Why is my Online Training not effective?
Are you thinking performance support when designing your training programs?
You may ask that you have tried everything from using breakout rooms to online quizzes and fun videos to engage your learners. Why then do your learners still sit with their audio and video muted in the v-ILT sessions? Why are the learning completion metrics on your LMS still low? Why do you still have to follow up with learners to log-in and complete their learning?
To answer these questions, I would step back to the fundamentals of instructional design. The first step is called Training Needs Assessment (TNA). It may seem like an extremely simple place to start from, but I cannot over emphasize the importance of a good need assessment because it forms the very backbone of your program. TNA is often under-rated or limited to subjective discussion-based tools. Poor understanding of the learning objectives will inadvertently lead to poor effectiveness of the program delivered.
It may not seem like but validating learning outcomes through a detailed need assessment is in fact the less time-consuming step, as compared to what follows! This is also because at Samriddhi, we have template-ised this crucial step, so you never miss out the finer details in conducting your TNA.
Click here to get a copy of the Samriddhi TNA Diagnostic Tool
The next step after TNA is what causes most of us maximum discomfort – discerning which category your learning outcomes fall into:
- Knowledge dissemination, or
- Skill building.
It is sometimes possible to confuse between these two. Consider a training on negotiation skills – do you want your learners to understand the process of negotiation? Or do you want them to develop their own style, practice it and apply it in work situations? Now who doesn’t want the latter, right? But are we then ready to commit ourselves to achieving that learning outcome? Hence it is important to understand the trade-offs between choosing between the knowledge and skill buckets.
The reason this is important is because sticky learning is only achieved when we treat learning as a process, and not as an event. So, while an information dissemination training can fall into the first bucket and be an isolated learning event, application of skills or behaviours to workplace situations, needs significant time and effort. It is this stickiness that makes the online training truly effective and is therefore brings in the concept of performance support in learning.
Performance-supported learning answers one question: “How does my learning program enhance the performance of my learners?” And because it is such a bottom-line driven question, measuring the effectiveness of the online training is built into the program design from a very early stage. Consider a simple example. If a learner scores high scores on all knowledge quizzes in the program, would that count towards program effectiveness? Not so much, right? However, if the learner demonstrates that she/he can apply the learning in real life situations, the program be considered effective. The idea is to replicate the learning environment as closely as possible to the actual workplace and introduce key concepts by linking them to the learners’ pre-existing knowledge, skill or behaviour patterns.
And this is what makes performance-supported learning so interesting too. It offers endless opportunities to innovate on the content, experiment with varied instructional design tools and incorporate relevant workplace-linked assessments. Some different instructional design tools we have used in the recent past are scenario-based tests, job aids, video tutorial, system simulation, feedback-based role plays, etc. These are called learning scaffolding, which supports the learner as s/he walks through the process of picking up the new skill. With subsequent steps in the learning journey, we reduce the scaffolding, giving greater confidence to the learner to apply the skills in real-life scenarios.
To summarise, make sure to run a strong training needs analysis before designing your program and use performance-supported learning to make your online programs more effective. We would love to hear more from you about your experiences and challenges in making online training effective.