Many employees take courses because they are mandated to do so by their employers. While some of them apply themselves and seek to use the training to improve their work, others only go through the motions. When the course is completed, often, nothing about their behavior changes. When employers invest in course creation without proper planning or with no plan for follow-up, learning often doesn’t actually occur. The training is, therefore, pointless.
Before launching a course, companies must think about what they want to achieve. Do they want to create a safer work environment? Increase sales? Improve customer services? If the aim isn’t to improve the performance of workers and the company, then it is a waste of time. Changing behavior should be the ultimate goal. This is not easy, but it brings a better return on investment than simply training people for training’s sake.
Remember this: Your course materials may be relevant and attention-grabbing but if your training isn’t influencing a change of behavior you have to ask yourself why. It can be tempting to just add more information to the course but often, workers already know what to do. They just aren’t doing it. You need to give them a reason to DO what you desire.
Here are some things you can do to ensure you get positive results from eLearning courses.
1) Talk to Your Potential Learners Before Creating the Course
You need to understand employees’ needs, motivations, and frustrations. The only way to do so is to hear directly from them. Some employees may be fearful about taking a course if they haven’t done so in a while. Others may simply not be interested in what you're offering. People who are overwhelmed, fearful or disinterested will not learn well. This is because the brain’s reward system is not activated and chemicals like dopamine don’t increase. There is no motivation to learn. At the very least, ask learners what they want. If you're going to go a step further, conduct a full needs analysis.
Bear in mind that students are not always aware of what is holding them back. They may not realize how their habits, mindsets, and beliefs are limiting their ability to learn and apply what they have learned. Instructors, therefore, need to be in a position to help course participants become aware of their habits so that they can break them and change their behavior.
2) Tell Learners What You Expect Following The Course - and Make them Accountable to Produce Results!
Before the training begins, workers should know exactly what they will learn and how and when you expect them to apply it. Make it clear what challenges the course is expected to solve and how improved performance will benefit the organization. Ensure that someone is available to answer any questions learners have and help them to prepare to make the most of the course after completion. If you have taken the first step of talking to the participants, you will know the type of information they will need.
3) There Should Be Frequent Communication Between Supervisors and Workers Post-training
The eLearning course will only run for a short time. What happens afterward is what’s most important. It is only in applying information that learning really takes place. Workers will now have to apply what they’ve learned to real-life situations. This is when the behavioral change will take place.
Don’t assume that learners know how to utilize the knowledge they have gained! Some may be ready to do things differently, but others will need additional communication, coaching and motivation. If course participants are aware managers expect they exhibit the behaviors they have been trained on, this will push them forward to take action.
The input of coaches and mentors is, therefore, an invaluable part of the learning experience. It’s hard to be productive in unsupportive environments, so organizational culture is critical.
Depending on how important the course is, you may even want to train managers, so they have the information they need to encourage other members of the team to change what you desire at the workplace - be it a skill or behavior.
4) Reinforcement Programs: Allow for Practical Training
Depending on the nature of your business, you may need to include practical, real-life training after or alongside the eLearning course. Let’s say you're in the security field. eLearning will only do so much, but you may not want to risk testing knowledge in a real-life situation for the first time. Practical simulations will allow you to test learners’ ability to apply what they know without causing any harm.
After all the training, you may need to get tough. Consider instituting a reward system to encourage the new behavior. You also need to remind workers frequently of what they need to do. This helps new habits to form.
5) Produce Checklists and Cheat Sheets
When the eLearning course is completed, provide students with documents highlighting the key points. You can store the information in a central location, so everyone has access to it. Course participants can then look back at the files whenever they need them to assist in their duties. Such a document is helpful if you’ve introduced new procedures or modified existing ones following the training. Depending on the nature of the training, you may want to make the materials available to workers who were able to take part in the eLearning course.