Last time in Designing Your Training Program – Part 1, we talked about the first four considerations in designing a training program:
- Training Goals
- Training Resources
- Training Personnel
- Measuring Success
This time we will talk about methods for training. Please understand that a related conversation will happen for each training you develop, but if you don’t have the capabilities for each of these types in the beginning, you will have to removed that option from your training menu. The four major types of training you need to consider having available are:
- Face-to-face training
- Online training
- Blended/mixed method training
If you ask someone to think about training, their first thought will probably be something like sitting in a classroom listening (or trying to listen) to someone standing in the front of the room explain how to do something. Face-to-face training is the typical way that people have been learning skills and has been for years. For some activities, face-to-face training is still the best choice. Ideally in face-to-face training, the trainer will stand in the front of the room described the new activity and then have students practice it. With technology and other skill based trainings, practicing the skills on a computer or other technology can really help to transfer the knowledge to participants. Practicing the skills also works well with softskill training like leadership and teambuilding activities. Unfortunately, many trainers rely on lecture with little chance for activities in their face-to-face training and so the retention of knowledge falls off dramatically. Face-to-face training should be included on your training menu, but be careful when constructing materials to allow for practice/skill-building time.
Online training/learning, sometimes called computer based learning, has been around for quite a while. It was extremely popular in the 80’s and 90’s when personal computers entered schools and the workforce in large numbers. The use of CBL(computer based learning) tapered off in the mid to late 90’s for a variety of reasons. However, with the growth of the Internet, online learning has expanded again in the last 10 years or so. Most people at some point in time have used some kind of a learning management system or a MOOC like UDEMY or Coursera that required them to be on a computer for at least part of the time. Many people have also gone to testing centers to take a proctored test for a certification of college course. These are all examples of using online training. If you are looking at using online training in your organization know that you can’t simply take a face-to-face class and produce pdf for your course content. You will need to get an instructional designer with e-learning experience involved to make your content useful to your learners.
Blended/Mixed Method Training
Blended or mixed method training or learning, hasn’t been around quite as long as computer aided learning, but it truly has experienced a real growth in the last decade or so. For those of you who don’t know what blending learning is, it is actually a combination of face-to-face and online or computer-based learning. In the business world, a typical blended learning training for a participant to go online before the first face-to-face session to do a pre-test and some pre-reading. This sets the stage for what is to come. They would then come to a face-to-face class for that hands on, instructor led learning. Their time with the instructor can be more focused on the specific needs and questions because the preliminaries have already been taken care of. There may be several sessions of face-to-face learning with online or computer-based learning mixed into face-to-face sessions. Then the final sessions of a mixed or blended learning situation would be online again. It may include getting questions answered about applying the skills to the participant’s specific situation or turning in some kind of project. In some cases there is an ongoing discussion between participants that helps with hands on application of skills.
The final type of learning, who will talk about in this session is mentorship. Mentorship is not necessarily a type of learning, but more businesses are going to this type of a situation or relationship for at least a portion of what they do. This can sometimes be almost an apprenticeship between a mentor and mentee. It could be set up many ways but what it amounts to is for the organization to match with someone who is more experienced in a certain area with someone who needs to learn that skill. Then through either direct observation or conversation at set times the mentee learns in an informal situation how to do certain tasks. This form of training in centuries old but it too is seeing a resurgence in use.
As we moved through these trainings, one of the things that happened was moved from a more formal, traditional type of learning to a more informal type of learning. So, what’s the value of all of this for you in developing your training program? Its value is to help you make some decisions now about how your program will look. The decision you make early in your developing of your program that will guide what happens in the future of your training program. You don’t necessarily have to have all four of these major types of learning. But if you don’t, it should be a conscious decision. It should be something you’re making your mind up about intentionally. It may be that your particular organization doesn’t have the technology or the need for a blending learning situation so you have to use face-to-face for all of your training. It may be that you don’t have the time to pull everyone out to do a face-to-face and so you need to do an online learning situation. Whatever the reason you have for selecting the methods of training you use in your organization, make sure that there is a valid reason for doing so. Each type of learning has its strengths and weaknesses. Hopefully you won’t have to choose one type or the other based simply upon dollars and you can also factor in learners needs when choosing the type or types of learning you can design into your training plan.