eLearning Development Incorporates Different Styles
When researching eLearning options, managers are not comparing apples to apples. There are various types of eLearning, just like there are many various types of apples. When choosing eLearning for your next project, remember the details are always important!
Here are some eLearning styles and how they are used:
Self-paced slides: These are usually a series of slides with information. Good for basic tutorials and a walk-through of basic info. Example: HR training on the company’s history.
Self-paced interactive: This is a bit more complex than a slide-show. Here there may be quizzes or exercises that demand the attention of the learner. This works best when you need to check for basic comprehension and test for basic competencies. Example: HR training on operational policies and procedures (how to ask for a day-off, how to address harassment, etc.)
Self-paced with asynchronous human interaction: Here participants learn at their own pace, but also interact with other learners in a threaded discussion board or blog. This allows for discussion of elements pertaining the course. There is interaction with mentors, peers, and subject matter experts. This style works best with more complex information that requires deeper critical thinking skills and creativity. Example: Customer Service advanced training: handling the most difficult customer complaints.
Self-paced with synchronous human interaction: This style is interesting. It allows the learner to pick up most of the content on their own, but then they discuss the content with peers, mentors and/or subject matter experts in a live chat or even a face-to-face setting. This works particularly well when there are physical skills required as part of the competencies. Example: student nurse learns about the anatomy of the arm online and about the concept of inserting an intravenous needle, but learns with an instructor and a live participant how to insert a needle in the arm of the participant.
Instructor led: unlike the last two, this style is not self-paced. The instructor sets the pace and walks the learner through the content within specified time frames. This works best when the content is extremely complex and requires very strong guidance. Example: teaching of very complex theory (physics, chemistry, engineering, etc.)
Blended (aka hybrid): a mix of any or all of the above.
As you can see, the success of an e-learning strategy depends on the type of e-learning and how well it was matched to its objective.
Staff Training is a Specialized Skill
The situation is all too common. An organization, in this case a call center, wants the senior associates to coach and train the less experienced employees. So the mandate comes from above that each one of the more experienced staff should plan to do a series of presentations for their units.
Is this a good idea? Let’s be brutally honest with ourselves for a minute. Not everyone is a good presenter. Even with training, there will be those who will stick to reading every word off each slide of a PowerPoint presentation. Others will be long-winded lecturers, and others will simply resent the fact that they are being forced to speak in front of a crowd.
It is true, seniority often means more experience and skill at doing one’s job, but the fact that one can do one’s job well does not immediately translate into being able to train someone else the job. To force staff training on senior staff may lead to conflict and frustration.
Before we send out global mandates like these, let’s remember some of the basic rules of employee engagement. If people are not properly outfitted with the tools for the job, they are likely to fail. If you plan to have your senior staff become the training and coaching body of your junior staff, make sure that you follow these steps
First we need to assess the capabilities of the individual. Perhaps the person is not a good public speaker now, but with training and support he might become one. Or perhaps public speaking is not this person’s strength. Instead this person may be a great coach. See who is best suited for different staff development tasks. Some will be better presenters than others, some will be better coaches, etc.
Then support them by offering them training and resources to become better at their given task (coaching, delivering training, etc.). Finally, continue to assess their skill level and continue to support their growth and development as part of your staff development strategy.
Who Does What in the Systematic Approach to Training SAT?
SAT is essentially a blueprint that we use to walk organizations through the design of their training solutions. The most widely used model of SAT used in designing a learning initiative is a process named ADDIE. ADDIE stands for: Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, Evaluation.
But who does all this? Who should be involved at each step of the process?
Each organization will have a different way to approach SAT depending on the project, available staff, resources, and timelines.
Here is a suggested approach and guidance:
In this phase you determine the need, the goal, and the gap in-between the two. To this end, it is good for you to establish a project advisory board.
In this board it is a good idea to include someone at the highest appropriate level of management to champion the project and who will keep everyone accountable for the end result of the learning initiative.
You may also want to include feedback from prospective learners and Subject Matter Experts (SEM’s), so make sure their voice is represented in the board. Finally don’t forget the end-user, the recipient of whatever results the training may bring.
To make things run smoothly, we strongly suggest you appoint a project coordinator or Project Manager (PM) to oversee this stage.
Here you will begin the work of developing a learning solution. For this phase you will need the help of an Instructional Designer (ID), and SMEs who will work together with the PM .
Here we have to answer another question: What is an Instructional Designer and what do they do?
We’ll cover that in Part II.
Examining What Drives an Organization to Improvement Through Learning
Recently I was asked question in a forum about the three most important elements, processes, or systems which drive organizational learning. In my reply, I stated that this can be analyzed from multiple angles; however, the most elemental pieces include
- In the right organization: strategy
- In a mediocre organization: someone’s impetus or impulse
- In the wrong organization: reaction to a problem or crisis.
I find that the best organizations manage their learning initiatives as a very important part of their business strategy and objectives.
In order to support the organization’s strategy, the best organizations will put into place these three key elements:
- The people (they come first). Get the right learning champion first, then give that person the right staff, and let them Identify the right learners. If they are the right people they will be smart enough to know how to identify the right business objectives and how to put together the right programs for the right people.
- The infrastructure. People need the right tools to do their job, otherwise even the best people are doomed to fail.
- Finally, the support. From money to time, someone has to support the learning operation with real assets. If not, you hired a lot of good people and bought a lot of nice equipment and software, but rendered the team impotent.
Learning4Managers is a staff and customer training and development service by Accolade Institute, Inc. Although we are based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, we offer services to clients worldwide. We help with projects of all sizes and complexities. Beyond simply putting a curriculum or a course together, we will help you think through the entire strategy, from training development to content delivery, course marketing, and more.
Applying the “Six Hats” to the Analysis Stage of ADDIE
Edward Bono in his book “6 Thinking Hats” presents the metaphor of wearing different hats that represent different styles of thinking. Each style gives us a different perspective, which helps us gain a deeper understanding of the project at hand.
Let’s take a closer look at how we can apply Bono’s six hats to the Analysis stage of the ADDIE Model.
- White Hat: Data and Information
While wearing the White Hat you will focus on information and data alone. In the Analysis stage, this is where you begin your consultation with your client by gathering as much information as you can about the current state of affairs. While looking at data, try to identify trends. The ADDIE Analysis Form Template can guide you in the data collection stage.
- Red Hat: Emotion and Intuition
When you wear the Red Hat you’ll want to seek out feelings and intuition. Ask those involved in the process how they feel about current performance, and how they would feel if desired performance was achieved. Try to identify what people feel strongly about, and what their gut tells them. Strong emotions can be great allies or formidable rivals, and we should not ignore them. At this stage you may also consider using Kirkpatrick’s first level of evaluation as a way to get to the emotional reaction from those involved in the process.
- Black Hat: Obstacles and Challenges
The Black Hat keeps us grounded by taking a closer look at possible challenges. Here we analyze everything that could go wrong. By addressing the bad news during the Analysis stage, we can create plans for contingencies upfront . Not all contingency plans need to be created in the Analysis phase, we only need to identify what needs to be addressed. The contingency plans themselves can be developed in the Design and Development phases. The ADDIE Analysis Form Template includes a section for challenges.
- Yellow Hat: Advantages and Benefits
The Yellow Hat brings our focus back to a vision of success. Vision is what guides our Goals, and our goals direct our Objectives. These VGOs need to be aligned, and they need to be positive. VGOs need to point to an Advantave and Benefits statement that clearly identifies how the learning intervention will make things better. In the ADDIE Analysis Form Template, in the Vision section, make sure to include an Advantages and Benefits statement.
- Green Hat: Innovation and Creativity
The Green Hat is primarily used in the Design and Development phases because it relates to innovation and stands for creativity. In the Analysis phase, you can use the Green Hat as a reminder that not all problems are to be taken at face value. Often, a performance gap is the result of deeper issues. Keep an open mind as you develop your Analysis. The Green Hat also gives us an opportunity to find new and creative ways to address performance problems. Some times your clients have pre-determined ideas as to the kind of learning interventions that should be used, only because they may not be aware of other alternatives. During the Analysis phase you may be able to introduce your clients to new technologies or approaches.
- Blue Hat: Direction and Control
The Blue Hat is the one that provides structure, methodology, and decision making processes. You may have noticed that in the ADDIE Analysis Form Template we included room for leaders, champions, and stakeholders. In the Analysis phase you want to establish an early structure of reporting duties, responsibilities, and a decision-making structure.
As you can see, this adaptation of “The 6 Thinking Hats” by Bono can help organize your thinking during the Analysis stage, and helps you gain a deeper understanding of the projects you work on.