The learning professional’s repository of training and development approaches just keeps on expanding. Now, with technology also being added to the equation, keeping up to speed with recent developments and current trends can be quite a struggle. Still, it is no excuse for a professional to be uninformed.
We already covered some of the must-know training techniques available to the modern eLearning professional in our previous article, so here’s the next installment.
4. Experiential Learning
Hands-on learning (which can also be called as on-the-job-training), exposes the learner to real-life work scenarios.
Employee training techniques like these make sure that learning is not limited to inside the classroom, but is also demonstrated (and assimilated) during work itself.
Experiential learning applies the theories discussed and the competencies developed in the classroom to the actual work environment.
Aside from on-the-job training, another example of experiential learning is shadowing – an activity where a junior employee is assigned to observe how a more experienced colleague applies the required skills at work.
Coaching and mentoring are two other experiential learning methods. These activities pair a junior employee with a more experienced colleague in order for the former to get guidance on how to develop certain skills for a future role.
The goal for any experiential learning approach is for the learner to observe, assimilate, and develop the required competencies at the work environment.
Advantages of Experiential Learning
Being exposed to how skills are utilized in real-life work situations is this methodology’s prime advantage.
With corporate training techniques that utilize experiential learning, the learner being able to observe and learn firsthand the competencies required to be successful in fulfilling his or her role in the organization.
To add to that, not only is experiential learning used for developing new skills, it can also be utilized for initiating and preparing high-potential employees to take on leadership roles within the company.
Disadvantages of Experiential Learning
Experiential learning staff training techniques take up a lot of resources on the organization’s end. Just the selection process of participants alone can take up a considerable amount of time and effort.
Furthermore, activities like shadowing, mentoring, and coaching involves working around the schedules of both the moderator, the mentor, and the mentee.
When is experiential learning most effective?
Utilizing these learning strategies as part of new hire employee training can speed up the onboarding process. In addition, these can also be used in preparing potential managers and executives through mentoring programs.
Experiential learning can also be employed in scenarios where an employee is underperforming – getting some coaching time from his or her manager on points for improvement.
5. Online Learning
Online courses are the latest iterations of elearning. The main difference is that they are not pre-packaged, but are rather available online. Furthermore, in contrast to CBTs, today’s online courses also have the capability of letting learners and facilitators interact with each other over elearning platforms.
There are two types of online elearning courses. The first type are the asynchronous courses. These are static courses, pretty much like the CBTs, but are hosted on the web. MOOCS (Massive Open Online Courses) are examples of such.
The second type are the synchronous ones. These are live courses usually moderated by an instructor / facilitator and would include audio-video conferencing over the internet.
Employee training techniques that utilize this course type are webinars, online conferences, and virtual meetings.
Compared with CBTs, online learning courses can be accessed anytime and anywhere as long as a device and internet are available.
There’s even a most recent iteration called mobile learning, or ‘mlearning,’ in which learning resources are accessed on-demand and are designed specifically for mobile devices and mobile internet.
Advantages of Online Learning
Online learning’s biggest advantage is the learner’s ability to take the courses at the time and place of his or her choosing. Because of this accessibility, corporate training techniques that utilize elearning is much more convenient than the other modes of instruction.
It also saves on travel costs because the employee doesn’t have to be physically present to take courses.
Unlike static CBTs, online courses also allow collaborative work between learners and facilitators. File sharing, shared working spaces, app integration, and instant messaging / conferencing are some features that make online collaboration a possibility.
Disadvantages of Online Learning
While definitely more flexible and more effective than static CBT modules, online learning also has its own disadvantages. Its most critical one being the required computer proficiency to operate and navigate the learning platform.
Another critical downside is online learning’s heavy reliance on the internet. This means that staff training techniques utilizing elearning courses cannot be deployed without a network connection; meaning no internet, no learning.
Compatibility is also another drawback as older devices and software might not be able to support newer platforms. It also goes the other way. Newer devices might not be able to support courses on legacy elearning systems.
When is online learning most effective?
Online learning is most effective when applied to a high-tech workforce that is knowledgeable in using current technology. It’s also most useful for quick learning rollouts across different geographical locations and time zones – as courses can be accessed anytime, anywhere.
Online learning can also be used for collaborative work and projects between remote working teams. To add, it can be used as a medium for instantaneous feedback among facilitators and course participants.
The Best Balance: Blended Learning
As each approach has its pros and cons, it only makes sense to capitalize on the benefits of each while using a different method to compensate for disadvantages. This is exactly what blended learning does.
Blended learning, like its namesake, is a combination of any of the aforementioned learning methodologies mentioned above. Its key differentiator is that it leverages on the benefits of both technology and more traditional methods to give more effective learning experiences to the learner.
The most commonly used blended approach is the ‘flipped classroom.’ ‘Classroom training’ is done outside the classroom through technology like CBTs, elearning, instructional videos, and podcasts, to name a few.
This then allows most of the class time to be used in interactive learning approaches and / or experiential learning activities.
Here’s an example of a company using blended learning approach:
A company can use blended learning for new hire onboarding. Company processes and regulations can be discussed using classroom training or CBTs. Soft skills like customer service and selling can be tackled with interactive approaches.
In addition, computer-based training or online learning can be used to train company systems and role-specific tools. Hands-on training methods like shadowing and mentoring can be used to slowly transition a new employee to his or her role.
Finally, on-the-job training can be used to gauge, evaluate, and certify new hires before they officially become part of business operations.
So, which are the best employee training techniques?
The learning profession has definitely evolved. The centuries-old, passive approach of classroom training has advanced to the more engaging interactive learning and hands-on training.
And just quite recently, tech-enabled approaches of computer based training, online learning, and blended learning have also been introduced to the mix.
More and more effective methods are being introduced into the learning professional’s toolkit as time progresses. And learning professionals nowadays have more on their plates – which makes keeping up with such a dynamic industry quite challenging.
However, the success of the company’s training programs rely heavily on the choices of a learning professional, so it’s no excuse to be uninformed. Thus, it would be beneficial to know these methodologies by heart and be well-versed in their benefits and drawbacks.
More importantly though, a professional must be able to deduce what situations each approach is more effective at and capitalizes on those opportunities.
At the end of the day, everything that a training professional does is always for the benefit of the learners. So, always remember to keep the tools sharp and the fire burning.