Posts Tagged: Training-A-Z

The A-Z of Training: L is for Learning Methods

Posted by Adam Chester on 16/07/2014 at 09:00

Whatever method or tool you use, it should be remembered that learning is the goal.

I'm sure we can all remember a presentation where the speaker had used as many different effects as possible, embelishing their slides with a dizzying array of animation. At the time I probably spent more time watching the presentation than understanding it.

This is exactly the type of scenario we need to avoid when crafting experiences to deliver positive learning outcomes. It can be tempting to try out the newest technique or delivery method without giving proper thought to its suitability for the learning objectives.

Learning Methods

There are a huge number of potential learning activites which you could use all varying in suitability for a given task. A quick brainstorm here in the office gave us (in no particular order):

  • Instructor led presentation. Effectiveness can vary between trainers.
  • Instructional videos. Passive and may date quite quickly.
  • Role play. Offers participants an opportunity to develop empathy for both sides.
  • Simulation. A safe place to practice challenging tasks.
  • Gamification. Harness the competitive nature of students.
  • Workbooks/worksheets. Difficult to track progress.
  • Assignments/reports. Allows for in-depth study of a topic.
  • Practical demonstration. Passive for learners, and implicit knowledge may not be externalised.
  • Online Courses/elearning. Interactive and allow self-paced learning. May not engage non-technical learners.
  • Question and Answer. Unstructured, but offers opportunity to fill knowledge gaps quickly and shorten time to mastery.

Choosing the most appropriate method

With so many methods and techniques it can be difficult to choose the best one for a task. There are clearly times when eLearning is unsuitable for example first aid techniques or building tours but there are times when it can come into its own for example easy access to self-directed material.

Simulation based training can be helpful when the topic has serious potential consequences- astronauts train for years before attempting a mission in space. The effectiveness of a simulation relates to how well it approximates the task, a porr simulation may be no help at all.

To choose the best learning method, you need to consider the merits of each method, and weigh them against the drawbacks. You will probably also have to consider the period for which training will be used and balance it against the budget.

Room for Blended Learning

With such a huge variety learning activities, blending a few of them together can help to keep you and your audience engaged however using too many can lead to additional mental overhead for your learners. In my experience a one hour session should have a minimum of two but no more than three different activities. If you have longer with your students then you may like to use more, but make sure that they are sufficiently spread out to allow the learner the best change to engage with the task.

Which methods are your favorite? What did I miss? Leave your comments below.

The A-Z of Training: K is for Knowledge

Posted by Adam Chester on 09/07/2014 at 09:00

Building knowledge is an important aspect of many training courses. It may have fallen out of fashion but knowing the correct information can be the difference between making the right decision or a costly mistake.

When devising a new training course I always start with establishing the learning objectives as these help me to structure the course. To achieve the learning objectives I begin to think about what knowledge would be required to get the desired results.

In considering the knowledge that I might use to meet the learning objectives, I find that it is helpful to distinguish between essential and supplementary knowledge.

Under essential knowledge I place the knowledge that is critical for meeting the learning objectives. These may cover a single whole learning objective or part of one.

All other relevant but non essential knowledge is considered as supplementary knowledge. Examples of this might be historical information or activities that are related to the essential knowledge.

To complete the course design, I combine the essential knowledge with supplementary information. The supplementary information helps learners commit the key points to memory and connect it with their existing knowledge. It can also be a good change of tempo before jumping into the next section of essential knowledge.

The A-Z of Training: J is for Justification

Posted by Adam Chester on 03/07/2014 at 10:12

Do you feel that you have to justify your learning and development plan to everyone in your organisation? Do you need justify your budget to senior management? Are your trainees struggling to work out the reasons behind the training?

In the first case there are many potential justifications; updates to legislation or regulation, changes in business processes or even increases in profit margin derived from performance increases your training would deliver.

As trainers we have clear learning objectives in mind when we design and deliver a training course. Communicating these effectively to learners is the most straightforward justification for their participation and engagement. For learners who are on the fringes of your target audience, this is harder as the learning objectives matter less to them on a day to day basis. Here I would suggest that you stress personal development for the learner as the main justification.

Fostering a culture of learning and development is difficult, but making that change can free you up to raise the bar for you training organisation. How much more could you achieve if you didn't have to justify all of your learning and development activity?

The A-Z of Training: I is for Independence

Posted by Adam Chester on 25/06/2014 at 09:00

The 70:20:10 model demonstrates that the majority of learning occurs outside of formal training sessions. If our learners are learning more outside of our sessions than in then we need to support their independent learning as much as possible.

We think that online short course libraries are a great way to this, as they are always available and can be viewed anywhere.

How are you supporting your learners’ independence?

The A-Z of Training: H is for Help

Posted by Adam Chester on 18/06/2014 at 09:29

How can we help our learners best? In an ideal world we would be availble to answer queries in a style tailored to each learner around the clock, but this isn't feasible even when there is a single trainee.

I think that the best thing that we can do is provide access to the information and resources we would provide if we were available. Perhaps there are people in our organisation that we trust to answer questions on specific topics? Maybe we have a library of short courses that can be looked up as required?

For these techniques to work the Learning and Development manager needs to have faith that the information provided is fit for purpose. This can easily be achieved by writing the material personally or curating material from other sources.

Additionally the learner needs to feel that the information provided by the resources are authoritative and in line with organisational policy. Where this does not happen a learner may not treat the information as credible. To avoid this scenario developing a visible process for learning is essential.

How does your organisation help its learners?