Learning something once is enough of a challenge—so how are your employees doing when it comes to retaining that information in the long term?
Training leaders in companies have a simple goal: teach workers to do the job. They try to give them the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in their day-to-day activities, but more often than not, it’s this translation from theory to practice that trips people up. Companies expect employees to get back to work after training and figure out for themselves how to incorporate their learning into their work.
No matter how great your eLearning course is—no matter how engaging the content—participants in your course might leave the program feeling, or being, unprepared to actually apply what you have taught them. That application is called “learning transfer,” and when it’s lacking, the company has effectively wasted its time and money training its employees. Without some sort of strategy for reinforcing skills after the end of training, 90% of the course’s content could fall right out of the learners’ ears. Read more about how to tackle this “challenge of training transfer” here.
Luckily, with the right background knowledge, training leaders can make the content of their eLearning courses really stick.
Here are some ideas to help your employees apply what they’ve learned:
No matter how great your eLearning course is—no matter how engaging the content—participants in your course might leave the course feeling, or being, unprepared to actually apply what you have taught them.
1) Go in with a purpose
Even before you create the eLearning course, be clear with yourself and with others WHY you’re conducting this training, WHY it’s important, and WHAT you want your audience to learn.
Communicate all of this to your employees throughout the process of training, and then follow up with words and actions that encourage them to implement what they’ve learned.
2) Write checklist and make cheat-sheets
After the eLearning course is completed, give students documents (via Dropbox, PDFs, email, etc) that they can take back to work with them and look at whenever they need. This sort of document is especially helpful when you’re teaching new procedures or adding new steps to existing ones. Even better, make sure that practical, easily-referenced training materials are available to employees through a centralized knowledge base.
3) Provide ongoing support from supervisors
Supervisors and managers need to be a resource for newly-trained employees, so that they can answer questions, review key concepts, and give feedback on how well they’re transferring the learning to the job. It’s just as important for trainees to perceive that their supervisors are supportive in this way!
You need to ensure that each manager is able to articulate why the course is important to the individual employee and the organization as a whole. For particularly important courses, you may wish to invest in some management training, to equip your managers with the information they need to help them encourage their team to apply what they learned in the training.
4) Establish group support
Towards the end of eLearning courses, group up trainees so they can meet regularly after training (online or in person) to discuss problems in applying their knowledge, assess how they’re doing with the new skills, and to quiz themselves with practice activities. This will give members a sense of unity and confidence, which will encourage them to reach out when they run into problems. Assigning a training partner can also be useful. Remember to review expectations for the networks you create!
Recommended read: How Your Workplace Can Support Learning Transfer
5) Instate Evaluations
Nobody wants to take a test, but evaluating how eLearning course material is being applied, at pre-stated intervals, can help with learning transfer.
For example, in one company, staff members are developing a test to certify employees in a particular work process. Not only is periodic reassessment planned, but they will also rotate employees through the different aspects of the job to ensure that everyone performs each work process equally. This way, the application of the information is both refreshed and assessed.
The effectiveness of your eLearning course will skyrocket if you arrange frequent opportunities for learners to put into practice what they’ve discovered.
6) Emphasize application just as much as comprehension
Don’t preach—practice! Without retention, training serves no purpose, and retention is useless without effective application. The effectiveness of your eLearning course will skyrocket if you arrange frequent opportunities for learners to put into practice what they’ve discovered. Gamification techniques, both during and after training, can contribute to making skills transfer both fun and rewarding!
At the end of every eLearning course, give your employees an exercise with which they can test themselves on the material. Frequent exercises like these will break up the monotony of boring lectures, but will also increase their competence in the subject exponentially!
You Might Also Want to Read: Before, During, and After Training: Improving Knowledge Transfer in Your Organization in 3 Stages
How are you ensuring learning transfer in your eLearning courses? What is the biggest hurdle you’ve had to overcome in terms of knowledge retention? Let us know in the comments below!