I refer to my training approach as a “shotgun approach”, because I have many different training methods available to me, and I “shoot” them out to the members of my training audience.
Now, don’t worry – we’re not actually shooting anyone for giving a wrong answer or anything! I’m talking about applying a Blended approach to training.
In a blended training program, we’re talking about applying all of the tools we have available to address our training audiences, and addressing each audience type with the training methods that apply to that particular group.
We want to be where our audience wants us to be. That means we have to apply different methods for different audiences. But, it also means that there is no one perfect training solution for all training audiences, and that even for a single learner, there are several methods that may be applied to create their particular Blended training solution.
It’s important to know who your audience is, and what works for a particular group. And, tracking their usage and success is key, so you can feed that knowledge back into your training plan. I’ll talk more about potential audience types in a future posting.
As one example, if you’re an eLearning specialist, you may think that eLearning is the ultimate answer to training your learners. After all, that’s what you do, what you get paid for, and what you are held accountable for. And there are many benefits to the eLearning format. But in fact, eLearning is just one part of a Blended approach to training. One pellet in the shotgun shell.
A complete Blended approach may include some or all of these methods, which I’ll discuss – some in this article, and others in future postings:
Instructor Led Training (ILT)
Follow-ups and Evaluations
In the educational field, there’s a concept known as flipped learning. The idea is that instead of the usual format of a classroom session followed by assigned follow-up learning (books, videos, etc), flipped learning switches that around. So, first the learner is assigned learning content that they study on their own prior to attending the classroom session. Then, they attend the classroom session. By doing that, the classroom session can be much more effective, because the teacher can focus more on those things that make the face-to-face time special.
Now, you could argue that when a classroom teacher assigns their students a chapter of the textbook to read prior to the next class, because it’s the topic that will be covered next time, that’s an example of flipped learning. And I would agree with that. And of course, that’s been going on for a very long time. The modern interpretation of Flipped Learning takes it well beyond that. But flipped learning is very rare in the training field.
I’ve been applying this methodology to the training of company field teams for years, because it’s a rare and special occasion that we actually get time in front of them. Let’s take a look at some of the training methods I listed.
If you’re planning a face to face training with your learners (like a classroom or workshop), you should provide them with documentation and information ahead of time, and ask that they take the time to review them prior to the live event. Don’t waste the learner’s face-to-face time covering content they can review on their own. When you have the rare opportunity to spend time in front of your learners, you should spend that time focused on those things that you can only do face to face – live demos, sales scenario practice, coaching, etc.
Don’t waste it on PowerPoint presentations covering product details that could be covered by providing other materials, or holding a web-based training. There’s certainly room for some PowerPoint/Lecture during the live event, because a skilled trainer can bring life and insight to the subject that learners probably won’t get on their own, but just keep it as brief as possible.
Examples of Pre-learning materials include documents, videos, web pages, PowerPoint decks, white papers, and more. Really any source that will prepare your audience for the live training.
By incorporating pre-learning into the training program, your learners will show up to the live event with sufficient background knowledge to allow you to move very quickly beyond the lecture portion.
The main benefits of eLearning are that it’s On Demand (or Asynchronous) for the learner, and it really leverages the efforts of a relatively small group of “trainers” – the production team. Some companies only have one person producing online training content, yet they can reach thousands of learners with the same effort it takes to reach just one. The term “eLearning” can be broadly used to describe any kind of learning or training that takes place through the internet. For my purposes, it’s a little more focused than that, referring to a formalized training program with learning modules or courses, videos and resources housed in some type of Learning Management System (LMS).
For purposes of this discussion, we will be talking about tools for training large groups, like 20, 50, 100 – maybe more. And we have a need to demonstrate something – perhaps an electronics product (since that’s my background).
Usually, when people think of webinars, they think of a “webex”. You know – a web meeting with the PowerPoint deck, and a person basically reading the slides.
But webinars can be much more than that. I’ll talk more about Video Webinars and the rest of our training tools in my next post.
Until then, remember that there are many ways to train someone. There’s no such thing as a single “best” method. We need a Blended training solution to bring together the right tools for a particular training audience.