There’s no arguing with the fact that eLearning has put down roots in the training world and will continue to grow. While the majority of companies still give their training through instructor-led classes, the majority of employees are learning outside the classroom through YouTube, internet forums, wikis, and other electronic resources.
And eLearning has been evolving. Programs now include gamification to help learners remember information, simulations to help them explore new ideas, and chat platforms to help them confer with colleagues over long distances. Some video courses are even shrinking down to 3 minutes or fewer, so your team can learn quick bites of information whenever they need them.
So what’s next?
Employee training isn’t complete until learners apply their knowledge.
Considering how much effort we spend developing training content and how little we devote to practicing and applying new information, why not look for ways eLearning can help? Internet and mobile applications are perfectly poised to help your team practice and apply what you’ve learned. That’s where they need to go next.
Practice is a crucial element of any training program. “As a rule-of-thumb, practice should account for a quarter to as much as three quarters of instructional time, allotting more time as learning progresses.”
However, most training programs rely on the learners to find ways to practice on their own. It’s difficult to practice in a classroom. Real and electronic simulations can offer some rehearsal, but ultimately, an employee needs to try new skills in the work environment with all its pressures, distractions and unpredictability.
eLearning can help us practice new skills.
This unstructured practice is difficult for formal training programs to control or measure. But that’s where eLearning apps can help.
eLearning leaders understand this. In fact, in Jay Cross’s eLearning Manifesto, he lists several principles for transferring new behaviors from the virtual to the real world.
However, if we want to extend eLearning capabilities, we have to look at the role of training applications differently. No longer are we asking eLearning to simply deliver instruction. Now we’re asking it to help us remember to practice, find resources we need to help them do it, meet up with colleagues who can work with us, and help validate our accomplishments.
Looking for eLearning software? Check out these 18 keys for finding the best product for you.
How can eLearning applications support practice and application in the workplace?
Provide performance aids on mobile devices that go wherever employees do.
For example, QR codes on a piece of equipment can be used to pull up an instruction guide or reminder card.
Make it easy to get support when needed.
For example, an application can match up team members with experienced colleagues to help them over a tough spot or even extend the basic training to additional applications.
Provide a method for validating the results of practice.
Offer a sign-off capability or ways to share photos, videos or comments with managers and learning and development professionals.
Help employees follow their own learning paths.
Give employees several training options they can follow on their own or with colleagues. Let them “sign up” for informal experiences and record their participation.
Encourage employees to practice at regular intervals.
Remind employees how much progress they’ve made toward their goals to help them incorporate training into their workload.
Provide a way to give feedback on how well training translates to the work environment.
For example, a program can include ways to message the owner of a resource about how useful it is. Employees can let managers know what is and isn’t working, so the program can adapt.
Let managers identify the highest priority skills to focus on.
Managers can mark learning tasks according to their priority for the team or individuals and attach deadlines to ensure regular progress.
Remind employees of the behavioral or objective results they’re working toward.
Describe learning goals in terms of best practices, key behaviors and results.
Help management support the process.
Alert management about how much progress employees are making with their practice and whether they’re falling behind.
Good employee training programs don’t leave practice and application to chance.
Research into effective learning programs shows that strategies for transfer and practice need to be baked into the design. The truth is that humans almost never change behavior overnight even when a new behavior demonstrably improves our lives. We need to keep revisiting our skills, applying them in different environments, under different pressures, and over a long period of time.
Mobile and web applications, with their ease of access, speed, and availability across space and time, can accompany learners into the field. They can support, remind, reward and challenge employees every day. Why confine these programs to content delivery? eLearning has earned a place in the training community; it’s time to take the next step.
Pract.us delivers on the promise of eLearning to help you team learn, practice, apply, and improve new skills.