Making training engaging

26/06/2020 - 17:28

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Remoteness, trust and accountability are a trifector of challenges front-of-mind for many businesses in 2020.

Remoteness, trust and accountability are a trifector of challenges front-of-mind for many businesses in 2020.

How can you be sure employees are doing what they should when they’re working from home, or on a remote site, how can they be upskilled, and how can you provide assurance that they were fully informed and trained?

This is the space in which digital training software is flourishing. In addition to being accessible online, some digital training programs are right at the forefront of the science of teaching and gauging whether meaningful learning has taken place.

According to Cell-Media managing director Steve Clarke, the success of any learning program is gauged by the user’s ability to understand and retain information.

Born in the late 1990s eLearning is now a market worth over $US200 billion in 2019, and tipped to reach $US375 billion by 2026, according to Global Market Insights.

While much-touted research published in 2000 by venture capital firm WR Hambrecht showed that eLearning could increase retention rates by up to 60% compared to face-to-face learning, more recent research has pointed to higher attrition rates, and according to Mr Clarke, the risk that people can click through, without engaging with the content.

According to Mr Clarke, approaches to these problems have become the points of difference between various products now on the market.

He explained that digital learning programs are more effective than having staff read large amounts of information in the traditional induction and training model, and that the dynamic combination of voice over and targeted pictures, video and graphics have proved to be significantly more engaging as a learning tool than non-voiced, text-heavy programs.

He added, however, that: “Lately, we are seeing some evidence of a limited but concerning return to the earlier learning styles that use text on screen, limited or no visuals, and no voiceover.

“In some cases, these programs allow users to bypass or click through the content without having to read more than a word or two. It is not possible to effectively lock down chapters in a text-only program because you simply cannot know how long a person may take to read.

“So, if a user bypasses part of an unlocked program, what happens to the learning outcome, the duty of care and compliance?”

This is where interactivity and assessments become an integral part of more sophisticated programs.

He offered three key tips to organisations looking to use or improve their eLearning strategies:

“Firstly, empower the end-user. You want people to be able to learn flexibly, at their own pace, using the tools that are the most effective for them. However, you still need to ensure they get all the information.”

To achieve this Mr Clarke said the Cell Media programs work on both informing and entertaining, moving away from lists and repetitive check box assessments and working instead with a mix of styles including case studies, drag-and-drop arrangement tasks, and scenarios with online characters that require participants to make choices to realise consequences.

Mr Clarke’s second tip is about sustainability. He said: “Your program must be able to work well into the future, with the agility to keep up with changing market demands and the fast pace of technological transformation. A key part of this will be focusing on experiential and skill development, rather than knowledge only, with carefully selected resources instead of overwhelming the user with information.”

His third piece of advice is about ongoing engagement with review and refinement: “Once you have chosen a tool, don’t be afraid to measure its success, adapt your strategy or even select a new tool if it’s not providing the desired return on investment, or addressing the business need as effectively as hoped.”

He said an important feature to look for in an eLearning system is adaptability of assessment processes so that users are not only able to show their level of learning, but the organisation can efficiently and reliably document the competency of their workforce. He added that getting feedback from employees about the program was critical as they can indicate what they find engaging and interesting and what needs to be adapted.

Mr Clarke said that while the pandemic has sharpened the focus on online workforce training, momentum has been gathering over the past few years as automation has necessitated large-scale reskilling.

Research published in 2017 by McKinsey Global Institute predicted that 14 per cent of the global workforce would need to be re-employed or reskilled due to automation and artificial intelligence by 2030. More recently, McKinsey’s 2019 survey of 1216 people from a range of industries, regions and tenures found that 90% of executives and managers think their organisations already face skills gaps or will do in the next five years. But less than half had a clear sense of how to address the problem.

Cell Media is based Perth and, in addition to providing induction, training and assessment programs, it also creates 2D and 3D animation and motion graphics for a range of industries. The company also has an office in Singapore providing services to the South-East Asian market.

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