Notice it says “Easy.” However, the core elements of
training are quite simple.
When I first became an instructor in the 1970s, the most
common technology available was the overhead projector. The instructor could
write on the film during the class or have professionally prepared slides made.
Often the learners were given an outline with space to take notes. It was a bit
cumbersome, but it worked. We also made use of printed self-paced modules.
Then, seemingly overnight, technology exploded – videotapes and
computers were going to do training for us and replace trainers. Companies looking
for ways to do training on the cheap have tried ever since to make the technology
deliver the training. The trouble has been that technology delivered training
is generally ineffective, primarily because people learn things from other people,
not from machines. I can cite one classic example of a suite of very expensive flight
training simulators that failed because pilots refused to use them. At least half
of their time had to be with other people.
Training and learning require interaction with other people.
So, we have come to the current situation; how can we deliver effective
training via computer?
I ignored this problem as long as I could but was forced to deal with it beginning around 2002 when my major client demanded two different series of training modules, a technical skills course in PowerPoint® , and a Supervisor skills course in Adobe Flash®, both with voice-over.
Let’s remember the core principles of performance or
competency-based training. They are:
- Observable and measurable objectives
- Relevant practice and skill checks with feedback
- A final skills demonstration to be signed off.
All attempts to replace that demonstration with written tests leave much to be
The solution that we, my team and I, finally came up with is
to try to make the computer act like an instructor as much as possible. That
means that at appropriate points in the lesson, the computer delivers a worksheet
for the learner to complete. In the initial case the learner was required to
get their supervisor to sign off on the practice before they went back online.
At the end of the module the learner had what they called a “Competency Assessment.”
The learner got with their supervisor or trainer to demonstrate their skills
and get signed off.
For organizations that really want effective training, there
is no other choice. Once the core pieces are in place the lessons can be enhanced
with technology. Videotaped demonstrations, for instance offer an excellent way
to give good or bad examples of how to do things. There are ways to conduct
virtual classrooms. We can do live or recorded webinars. Those also are only as
effective as the course design allows.
Computer advances have made this process more streamlined. At
PathfinderCoaches.com, our courses are truly self-paced, and as interactive as
we can make them. At the beginning of each course the leaner downloads the workbook
with all of the practices (we call them all skill checks). Some of the skill
checks have online feedback, while others instruct the learners to discuss
their results with their colleagues or supervisor for feedback.
Our free course, “Discover Your Money Temperament,” shows
some of the aspects discussed above. For a complete example you might take one
of the Rapid Training Design (RTD) courses. We can’t afford to give them away,
but the reasonable price may surprise you.
As the title of this blog says, there is no easy way to do
training, even though the process is pretty simple. Learning new skills is often
hard work. In today’s world we must do the best we can with a computer. The
computer does allow for individual learners to work on their own, but beyond
that the core elements don’t change.
Here are the links you might like:
Rapid Training Design – https://pathfindercoaches.com/rtd-system/
FaceBook Group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/2619780738249043
Director of Course Design and Development at www.PathfinderCoacher.com. Fred has 40 plus years as a consultant designing, developing and delivering performance-based training including all manner of technical training, individual development soft skills, and basic leadership. Clients include all sizes from a local sandwich shop to the military to fortune 500 multinationals. Just beginning to convert previous courses online. I tell folks, “I have trained people in everything from how to make a ham sandwich to how to operate an offshore oil platform, to how to solve problems as a call center operator, in both technical and leadership areas.