It’s easy to say that all training requires different approaches based upon their special needs but for technology that can be especially true. While some skills can be at least partially gained by watching and listening someone else go through the material (a lecture), activities such as using software really need to be learned hands-on with participants working through the material with or shortly after watching someone else do the same thing (experiential learning). The increase in retention by using a hands-on approach was highlighted in Joan Burge’s March 25, 2015 blog post Your Case for Training: Adult Learning Retention Statistics in which she summarized ATD’s research data on retention.
Adult Learning Retention Statistics:
Lecture – 5%
Reading – 10%
Demonstration – 30%
Group – 50%
Practice and Doing (experiential!) – 75%!
I have unfortunately been placed in situations in the past where participants were only allowed to watch the process of setting up or using a software package. I talking to them after the training, while they were appreciative for the instruction, we both knew that by the time they got back to the office Monday morning most of what we had covered during the Friday workshop was going to be lost in the fog of the weekend. Had they been able to practice the skills at the time, their retention would have gone up dramatically.
When planning for technology training:
- Try to teach software in a computer lab or other location where all participants can use the software on their own computer.
- Make sure that everyone is on the same version of the software they are being trained on.
- Make sure that workshop materials are checked for correct version images, activity steps and processes.