In our last blog post about the “fuss” in online learning we talked about various scenarios and forms of online learning. Now the question is: what scenario fits which purposes and needs? What kind of online training do I need?
Depending on the scope and the goal of your training and the question and whether the same content will be relevant for others in the future, you have to decide which scenario fits your needs.
The scope of your training
The first question to ask for deciding upon the form of your training is: What is the scope of your training?
Would you like to communicate rules or standards? Would you like to train processes? Is the goal of your training to make the participants reflect on past experiences and draw conclusions for the future? Or is it some other form of joint development which needs the input from all participants? Do you need it for an onboarding course for new employees? Or do you have to present new trends and developments?
The first question: What is the scope of your training?
As you can see, there are many possibilities when it comes to reasons why we offer trainings in the first place. Having a look at the end of the training process and asking yourself “What do I want to achieve?” is not only essential in order to reach the learning objectives, it is also time-saving and a lot more effective than, well, not taking this step of planning into consideration.
Presenting new trends and updates
Developing an on-demand training costs time and resources which is why it is not suitable for presenting updates and new trends: by the time you are finished with the production the updates are most likely not updates any more and trends have become part of our day-to-day life already. Save yourself the hassle and deliver the news through some form of live training like e.g. a presentation, a workshop or a webinar.
Facilitating joint development
All scopes which involve learners as active participants who contribute content to the learning process (e.g. reflecting, brainstorming, discussing, …) you need some form of live training, such as a webinar or a classroom training and you need to facilitate processes by creating an environment that makes contribution not only possible but motivates learners to contribute actively. Trainings which take the backgrounds and specific contexts of the learners into consideration are of high relevance to the respective participants. In order to reach this level of relevance and qualitative value, they need a considerable amount of time throughout the training itself and for evaluating the results. As much of the training content relies on joint development, the preparation efforts are lower.
The second question: Will the same training content be relevant to others in the future?
Onboarding new employees
The second question you need to ask yourself for deciding upon a training scenario is: Will the same training content be relevant to others in the future? If you can answer with a definite yes, then it is worth considering the production of an on-demand training. The most prominent example for this scenario are onboardings: new employees who join the company have to become familiar with the corporate culture, which communication channels are used for which purposes, the expertise of their colleagues and who to talk to for which matters. Moreover, they need to become familiar with the software the company uses and last but not least they need to acquire all the skills necessary for them to get their job done.
The same content needs to be learned by a considerable amount of people over and over again. Why not prepare an interactive on-demand training which lets every learner go through the training at their own pace, keeps them involved with gamification elements and saves time resources of other employees who otherwise have to give the same training over and over again?
A best practice from our experience: Give every learner several opportunites to ask questions which might come up throughout the on-demand training. You might for example consider a buddy-programme which gives every new employee a collague as a “buddy” who they can talk to. Another possibility is to combine the on-demand training with instructor-led workshops where the newly acquired content can be discussed and open questions can be answered. Depending on the amount of new content, you might consider several workshops throughout the training. As the “newbies” are already familiar with the basics at this point, the workshops will only take a fraction of the time and are going to be more effective.
If it is not the employee who is new to the processes but the processes which are newly introduced to a company or organisation, the same advantages of on-demand trainings apply: a considerably big group of people needs to acquire the same skills within a certain amount of time. To address various learning types, give people the chance to learn at their own pace and rather than only listen to a presentation give them the chance to immediately do something, increases the learning effect and the motivation of the learners as they can immediately see results. Also in this case it is recommendable to offer a follow-up workshop where learners get the chance to discuss unresolved questions.
Communicating rules and standards
How do your employees learn about compliance standards within your company? Standards – as they are made to stay for a while – have to be trained again and again, whether new employees join the company or ones that have been working here for a few years already, need an update. Content like this might seem “dry” to some, which is why it is especially important to address various learning types through various kinds of input, something an on-demand training can offer due its ability to combine visual input (videos, pictures, photos, infographics, etc.) with audio input (podcasts, recorded narrations, etc) and text. Some Learning Management Systems (LMS) even allow to embed external content such as websites. When it comes to compliance, for example, terminology that most people are not familiar with might make it increasingly complex to understand, which is why it is especially important that learners have the chance to consume the content at their own pace.
To sum up, two main questions are relevant for deciding which training format is the most suitable option: you need to ask what the scope of the training is and you need to find out whether the same content will be relevant for others in the future. Following this guideline, we have come up with the following examples:
|Live training||On-demand training (in combination with personal guidance or a follow-up workshop)|
|Presenting new trends and updates||Onboarding new employees|
|Facilitating joint development: (e.g. brainstorming, reflecting, discussing, …)||Communicating rules and standards (e.g. Compliance basics for the respective company)|
|Training processes (e.g. How does this software work? How do I go about an holiday enquiry?)|
|… your ideas …||… your ideas …|
What other scopes for trainings do you have that were not mentioned here? Do you already have experiences you would like to share? We always welcome feedback and are looking forward to your comments.
In the next part of our series we are going to look into yet another trend many people talk about: social learning. What does this term imply and what do we have to consider when we want to try this new format of learning? Stay tuned.
About the author
Kerstin Schachinger supports the Pokeshot team as a Workplace Learning Consultant. Combining experiences in adult education in Vienna and Berlin with her enthusiasm for training and her love of creating great content, she found instructional design, facilitating workshops and conducting webinars to be her favorite areas to work in. Kerstin’s linguistic background allows her to break down information and communicate complexity in an easy way, an essential skill when creating learning experiences for a wide variety of target groups.