|Education and Training|
Cutting edge training
Instructional design is the last piece of the training puzzle.
The local training industry is bombarded with a variety of offerings and solutions, all of which promise companies and their employees the perfect learning experience. The choices that are made with regards to training methodology can have a large effect on the quality of employees learning, which means if you present them with run of the mill training, they will reward you with run of the mill results.
On the other hand, if you give them an innovative, stimulating way to learn, a new way to explore their work, they will give you innovative, stimulating results. As a result, in the world of training, instructional design is starting to be recognised as an important piece to this puzzle, because, as a consequence of good design, people learn. In the past it was sufficient to have a good trainer, however, the demands have increased to great design, relevant content and competent trainer. The shift is demanding, but the results speak for themselves.
Today, people are starting to realise the value of experiential learning and, as a result, this approach to training is becoming more important and is therefore implemented more frequently. Key to this type of learning is engaging material û where there is no learner reaction, no learning will take place. Thus, instructional designers need to take responsibility for the quality of their material and need to ask; “Does it work, are learners engaged and are they learning?”.
When it comes down to choosing a training solution, many companies ask the question: How am I assured of return on investment? First of all, when investigating corporate training offerings, companies need to make sure that the training content is aligned with the business objectives and, eventually, business results. If these are not aligned, companies will not achieve the results that they are looking for, as it will not answer their specific business needs. When a training solution is tailored according to a company’s requirements and outlined objectives, it is more likely to be successful, thus resulting in maximum return on investment.
Therefore, when designing and implementing training solutions, it is important to take into account that each organisation is unique and therefore has specific training needs and requirements. Irrelevance is the enemy. In every instance, implementation parameters need to be considered and accommodated, according to the client’s specific requirements. For example, if a client’s employees only have 10 minutes during their lunch break or half an hour in the parking area to receive training, then training companies should utilise the available time and correct resources effectively, to drive maximum results.
By establishing the parameters upfront, training companies are more likely to successfully implement the correct solution and therefore they have more control over the possible outcome. This allows for companies to design, develop and implement training content and solutions according to the time, space and resources available. As proprietary content cannot be found in off the shelf courses, it is essential that companies develop training solutions for each client, according to their specific needs and requirements.
Although picture based training is only one form of innovative training solutions, it is an option that has proven to be very successful. Through the use of carefully considered pictures, learners’ curiosity is trigged and this normally leads to an engaging and stimulating learning experience. Pictures plus good design not only provide learners with a platform that they can easily identify with, but it generates reaction, interaction and, ultimately, learning through discovery. Additionally, picture based training creates a type of simulation, which offers learners a safe place to build their confidence. As a result, the learning process is accelerated, because learners now have the courage and confidence to engage in the content and learn.
Once a training need has been established, sooner or later the question as to whether to go “tailor made” or off the shelf will come up. The decision need not be a difficult one. Small learner groups may have to be content with off the shelf learning solutions as the economics of tailor made material is not warranted if you only have a handful of learners. As soon as the learner group is sizable, then it makes sense to create a bespoke solution, in which case the benefits and cost savings may be significant. For starters, clients get what they want and the training need is properly filled without gaps or overlaps. Secondly, the content can be 100 percent relevant. If the client can own the material free of license or royalty, then this too can prove to be cost effective. Ultimately, the combination of effective design, relevant content and internal training capacity can produce huge cost savings and above average results.
In the past training was all about training your own people on deemed relevant skills. Today, the trainable universe increasingly includes customers, suppliers, temporary staff and even channel partners. Along with this increase in learner audience, we are witnessing a demand for much more than skills training. Compliance, product knowledge, business processes, policies and procedures and induction programs are all examples of content areas that need training. Furthermore, as silicon replaces jobs and new jobs emerge, training becomes even more critical. Continuing adult education is big business. Nobody argues against lifelong learning.
Effective and efficient training is becoming crucial for improving company performance. Today’s demanding working environment places continuous pressure on people to deliver. This pressure is bad enough without having to add the burden of incompetence. Those that acquire the right blend of knowledge, skill and attitude to do their jobs well win, and so do their employers. These quests for competence (knowledge, skill and attitude) should be a joint ambition as both the individual and company’s benefit. If corporate training is effective, then people become competent and if it is efficient, they acquire this competence in a way that is economically viable.
Rob Dennison is the managing director at Trainiac (www.trainiac.co.za)