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Are You Developing Training for Your Learners or Yourself?

Thursday, September 8, 2016
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When we train employees, our primary aim is to take the performance of individuals to a higher level. Every year around the globe millions of dollars are spent to provide the best learning and development solutions. There’s so much information available to learning and development (L&D) professionals, trainers, e-learning developers, and performance improvement professionals touting the best training methods. Some say bite-sized learning is the way to go; others advocate for one-on-one coaching. Some suggest that classroom learning is most effective; others say the same for asynchronous and self-paced e-learning modules. And recently, the trend has started to shift toward gamification. However, with all the options available to us, have we forgotten to think about what learners really want? Has our focus shifted to the medium of delivery? We need to stop thinking about what we deem best, and instead focus on the instruction and the methods learners prefer. To really understand your employees’ learning needs and get the best results, answer these six simple questions.

Have you conducted a thorough needs assessment and learner analysis?

Whether you use a skills assessment, observation, surveys, or focus groups, L&D project managers must initiate a thorough needs assessment and learner analysis. Often, the training request arises from a “perceived need,” rather than any formal assessment and analysis. Skills training and technical training needs have a better chance of being assessed through formal analysis. Once you conduct a formal analysis, you will be able to answer the “why” of the learning program, as well as its design. This is the most important step to determine the type of training required and for whom.

Do you know if your learners already possess the information and knowledge?

The worst thing L&D professionals can do is to create training programs for skills and knowledge that employees already have. It is a waste of time, money, and resources. Not researching needs can lead to the creation of invalid instruction, which results in the highest form of boredom. The “I Hate Training” phenomenon emerged from this concept. Tap into the learners’ knowledge when designing a training program.

Are you aware of the social and cultural aspects of the training you want to deliver?

It is very important to understand the social and cultural aspects of the training before effective learning can occur. Today, when organizational cultures are keeping global and local social values in mind, along with environmental situations, any type of training needs to be aligned with these cultural and social facets. It not only gains the attention of the learners but also enables them to participate more willingly, thereby facilitating greater retention of knowledge.

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On what basis are you choosing the medium of delivery?

I began this post by discussing the different kinds of mechanisms for delivering training to emphasize that one size does not fit all. A certain training delivery might be relevant for some learners, but it might not be as relevant for other learners. Having a true understanding of the best medium not only enhances accessibility, it also increases engagement. It is crucial to validate the medium through formal assessment to ensure the highest success rate for learning.

Do you have a formal feedback collection mechanism in place?

There is always something a genuine learner might want to offer. However, there is often no formal mechanism in place for feedback. Even though everyone focuses on evaluations and return on investment, an effective understanding of what worked for the learners and what didn’t goes a long way. It may be necessary to add a step after implementing the learning program to focus more on feedback.

Are you generating curiosity and innovating training practices?

It is crucial to scaffold strategies that work best to generate curiosity with your employees. This not only allows for innovation of better learning practices that actually work for your employees, it also allows for a learning culture to exist in the organization.

We get so immersed in creating highly interactive, well-designed, and pretty content that we forget the purpose for which it was built. But when our training falls short of expectations, why aren’t we asking ourselves these questions to improve the overall learning experience?

About the Author
Priyanka Chopra is an independent instructional design and media consultant in Dubai. She has more than six years of experience in instructional design and development, research, publishing, media writing, and design.
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