You’ve developed valuable online training content with a subject matter expert. But are your employees actually learning skills that they will use in the real world? In this article, I’ll share 7 creative ways to test practical skills in corporate eLearning.
How to test practical skills and design effective corporate eLearning
Whenever an employee completes an online training course or activity, they should be able to demonstrate their new skills in the workplace. However, in any training, this transfer from “knowledge” to “skills” isn’t a given.
There needs to be a conscious design effort to develop an online training experience where employees test out their skills. There must be opportunities throughout the course for them to evaluate their progress and to sense-check. The question: “What would I do if I was in this situation?” doesn’t have to be hypothetical. Learning technology presents multiple ways to test practical skills before learners are back in the real world.
Turning the hypothetical into the practical
We all benefit when we can try something first before we are tested. This is true in all walks of life, from cooking to driving or learning a new language. So, if you want to test practical skills in online training, here are 7 creative ways.
1. Personal reflection breaks
The most obvious, and the least interesting, way to test skills is through formal assessments. But you can use a different approach. Replace formal, end-of-course online assessments with end-of-module self-reflection breaks. Offer employees a personal anecdote, case study, or story that encourages them to evaluate their own performance.
For example, how would they do things differently than the protagonist using their newfound knowledge or skills?
2. Online quizzes and mini games
Multiple quizzes throughout the course are more effective than a single eLearning assessment at the end. Test practical skills in the form of informal quizzes and games to engage the corporate learner. Use a timed visual quiz or a timed mini game.
Employees enjoy the competitive element of a timed challenge. Online quizzes and games are effective in testing practical skills because they help learners evaluate their own performance and feel a sense of achievement.
3. Branching scenarios and simulations
Branching scenarios and simulations are the next best thing to “learning by doing”. They provide a chance to test practical skills in a safe way that feels close to reality. Larger organizations are using virtual reality to fill this need in an exciting way. On a smaller scale, you could create a branching scenario using an immersive branching video or cartoon.
A step further than quiz-style evaluation, simulation and branching scenarios test practical skills application as closely as possible to the employee’s environment. These online training activities should be followed by personalized recommendations and feedback, so employees know what to work on. For instance, they could be advised to focus on active listening skills, given that they were unable to identify the customers’ needs, even though they clearly voiced them during the simulation.
4. Group collaboration activities
Online collaboration in a group helps employees to test their decision-making skills. Alone, they do not have the benefit of listening to and considering other people’s experiences.
There are several ways to trigger online collaboration. A social poll provides a simple way to review your thoughts against other people’s. A practical online training activity using video questions works well: watch a video, cast your vote, and see how you compare with others. Serious games for online group collaboration are effective when you want to test negotiation skills.
5. Personal challenges
Use your online collaboration to set personal challenges for your employees. They might be asked to contact a subject matter expert, find someone that uses a certain process, or find out a fact to unlock the next badge or reward. These personal challenges require practical application of newly-acquired skills.
You can even develop a skill-based scavenger hunt. Ask them to search your online training library to find resources that tie into their personal skill gaps, then participate in the online training activities to gauge their progress. For example, once a week they have to test practical skills, like their persuasion or management abilities, to see how far they’ve come.
6. Personalized action plan
At the end of your eLearning course, ask employees to create a set of actions for further learning. Invite them to register for additional courses based on their personal areas for improvement. This is a multi-faceted process that gives them control of their own development.
They’ll use the online training tools to identify their gaps, then determine the best course of action. For example, they might choose to enroll in the communication skills online training course based on their performance during the relevant simulation or serious game.
7. Follow-up microlearning testers
Give your employees space to digest but follow up your eLearning course with microlearning modules. These might include short tests in the form of a game or quiz. This follow-up serves to assess how they are role-modeling their new skills in their day-to-day tasks.
For example, a bite-sized branching scenario reveals that they still struggle to apply their negotiation skills to seal the deal. It may just be a virtual session, but it gives them a way to test practical skills by means of their responses and imparts practical experience.
Your online training experience should be a transition from the point at which you started to the point you targeted. So, you must understand clearly what skills you need to develop, and why they are important in meeting your learning goals. Once the learning objective is clear, the techniques for developing those skills should be logical and practical.
Knowing something is not enough. Learning is about absorbing information, evaluating it, committing it to memory and then applying it. When developing corporate eLearning, this process must be at the forefront of your design and development approach.
Will the online training content you are delivering change the way your corporate learners behave? How can you be sure that the desired behaviors will be applied? Testing skills during the course is the only way to be sure of their practical application in the real world.
Communication, problem-solving, and leadership are just a few of the many skills that your employees must possess. Read more on tips to create a microlearning library for soft skills to find out how you can impart soft skill training in a bite-sized format.
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