Don’t expect better results from your training programs if you aren’t willing to change how you think about corporate training. If you have specialized in online learning or eLearning for your entire career, it’s time to get back to the human side of your chosen profession. Get back into the classroom. And if you’ve always been a classroom trainer, you might want to look into how digital media can make your efforts more effective in the classroom. If your training department has always built custom training internally, you may want to consider buying some off-the-shelf training. There is a lot more you and your team can achieve in 2017 if step back and review your options. There are more options for training solutions than ever before.
Buy Courses to Deliver More Business Value
Buying courses is a great way to jumpstart your new year with fresh packaged content for your training library. If you haven’t purchased OTS (off-the-shelf) courses in a long time, or ever, then you’re in for a surprise. These pre-produced training courses are getting better and better. And since development is also getting easier, the courses are more affordable.
Subjects matter experts in all topic areas have discovered the value of sharing their knowledge via training courses. Many work on their own and sell their courses independently. Other experts work with course development vendors to create libraries of packaged content based on their expertise. And the cost is so minimal, relative to your in-house production, that you will immediately be adding business value within your organization. You spend less, but deliver more.
The best OTS courses are also flexible in their modular structure. This means that you can launch the courses as they are, and then later add custom modules specific to your line of business and employee needs. This is another form of the “iterative design process”. Custom iterative design starts with a course containing raw content. This makes the content available immediately so that those who need it are not left waiting. But then, after gathering feedback on this early rough-cut version, you update it with edits and focus on the most important content areas. By starting with an OTS course you start the process with a polished product and later add custom modules to further enhance the experience for your employees.
Get Back in the Classroom
This may sound counterintuitive in the age of google-fied learning. But the simple fact remains that great training needs both people and content. Can one or the other solve a specific need? Absolutely. However, if you’re creating a complete training program you should consider both. A one-on-one conversation is great but often falls short without digital content that captures the basics of what was discussed. And so a lot of learning potential is lost despite the valuable nature of talking to the expert. One-on-one training also does not scale. We also lose the important human element when we rely too heavily on self-paced learning. There is a balance required in order to maximize the benefits of both human interaction and digital content.
If you are using self-paced content, and can’t enhance it with a classroom experience, then make sure you encourage discussions with peers and/or leadership about the topic being studied. It’s the flip-side of what teachers already to. Classroom instructors are quick to offer up supporting material for their courses in the form of websites and other digital content. Making human interaction part of the self-paced course enhances the experience and offers an opportunity to ask questions and reflect on the content.
A common course pattern that is easy to execute supports both digital content and human interaction. But it also supports the long term learning process. You start the course with self-paced introductory modules. Then require attendance in a classroom event that offers a time for interaction and practice. After the classroom event is complete you followup with smaller digital content that reinforces the learning. This pattern was mentioned in a recent post on sales kickoff training.
In order for this course pattern to work, designers need to rethink their classroom course design. The classroom time should be focused on activities, interaction, and practice. The classroom experience should include elements of training that cannot be achieved as effectively via technology. For example, you might be tempted to offer the classroom portion of the course via web conferencing tools. There are good reasons why you would do this, but the point is that whenever possible create an opportunity for face-to-face interaction.
As you begin the new year, take some time to reflect. Find opportunities to use off-the-shelf courses and improve your classroom training experiences. Find courses you already have and brainstorm ways of applying a different pattern. The effort and resources required to make significant changes to your training programs are minimal. But the rewards are great. It simply requires a change in mindset. And that’s something that costs you and the business nothing.