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Lucy Limb

BiteSize Learning

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3 reasons why bitesize is a good fit


Research published last year[i] found that access - how fast suitable training can be delivered, followed by flexibility and quality remain the priorities for learning and development professionals.  This is hardly surprising – we all want to do things more quickly and flexibly without sacrificing quality, but is it possible?  I am reminded of the Project Management Triangle a rule in software project management which states that any project is subject to the opposing forces of speed, quality and cost - the adage is that you can have two but not all three. Things move on and concepts in IT development, such as Lean, have demonstrated that by doing things differently it is possible to have your cake and eat it.

The bite-size training model - short (90 -120 minute), high impact, modular courses is not new. We’ve been designing and delivering short courses in leadership development and personal effectiveness for over ten years. But it is a break with the norm and an effective way of delivering on all three of the top priorities of learning and development professionals, and, we think, learners too (access, flexibility and quality).


Bite-size courses are simply faster and therefore more cost effective as staff spend less time in training and find it easier to balance training with their every day work commitments.  Because the bite-size model provides a narrow and deep approach to each topic topic it’s easier to access the specific training at the time it is needed. Courses delivered in house can be arranged at times that suit the client, often scheduled around internal milestones and events.  Moreover if you’ve tried organising a 3-day course for a group of managers you will know the logistical nightmare it can be to find space in diaries; a series of half days is a much easier proposition.

Our client Daiwa Capital Markets explains why they use the bite-size model “Short courses are an ideal solution to our business needs when addressing targeted knowledge gaps as it provides our staff with development opportunities which can be delivered quickly and flexibly, with limited disruption to the business whilst also providing our staff with a practical and effective learning outcome.”


A modular approach enables broad knowledge areas such as Leadership Development and Communication to be broken down into manageable chunks that are easy to digest and apply to work place situations. A  “menu” of bite-size courses can be used to create modular programmes containing a series of short courses over a longer period of time, rather than covering the material in a 3-day course. This enables employees to apply their learning over time as they complete the programme.


The short course format requires the course designer to be highly selective; only the best models and exercises make the grade to achieve the learning objectives and avoid wasting precious time.

Bite-size courses are fast paced and interactive. Courses are packed with exercises which involve the learner and stories which grab people’s attention in a way that a screen or PowerPoint can’t. We’ve learnt from experience that people are simply better at understanding and remembering information recounted in a narrative form [ii].

Similarly, courses delivered in house can be customised using the company’s language, specific examples, scenarios or video to enhance the content.

Declining attention spans often linked to increased digital activity have been in the news recently - one headline suggested that the human attention span is now shorter than that of a goldfish. While this is unlikely to be true there is plenty of evidence to suggest that the ability to maintain concentration declines over time. Sleep researcher Nathaniel Kleitman[iii] discovered that, throughout the day and night, humans cycle through 90-120-minute phases characterised by distinct levels of alertness. The short course format works with - not against - our natural energy levels.

The result is a tightly designed course delivered in a format in which people learn best.

We offer 35 bite-size courses which you can view here.

[i] Towards Maturity (2016) Unlocking Potential: Releasing the potential of business and its people through learning,

[ii]  Baddeley, A. D. (1999). Essentials of human memory. New York: Psychology Press

[iii] Nathaniel Kleitman, (1963) Sleep and Wakefulness. University of Chicago Press


3 Responses

  1. Great blog and all relevant
    Great blog and all relevant and true. I used to organise bite sized learning at lunch hours on buying and merchandising skills in a major retailer. Book a speaker (typically a Merchandiser or Buyer from downstairs); brief them on learning objectives and learning methods they could use; book a buffet lunch (extra incentive) and watch the enrollment come in.

    It was a big success because of it’s duration and staff not losing productivity.
    Bryan – course delivery and off- shelf training materials

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Lucy Limb

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