The art of training is knowing how and where to provide the right information to those who are in need of it. That said, this requires the right content, the correct delivery method, and the appropriate audience. Aligning all these components requires doing an in-depth analysis before even firing up your authoring tool.
Don’t create training for training’s sake! As a rule of thumb, before building your next eLearning course, incorporate the analysis phase to full circle the development process. We know it may seem unnecessary, we know that your time is limited, and it appears to be a little complicated, but you're wrong!
Brushing off the detailed reasons behind the “WHY” of your training may result in a myriad of mistakes. Among the worse, it can lead to significant amount of money and time wasted in creating an eLearning course that looks awesome, but that it isn’t relevant for the intended audience. Continue to review essential points and questions that will be instrumental in the analysis phase for optimal results.
1) IDENTIFY THE PROBLEM: WHAT’S REALLY GOING ON?
Though a lack of knowledge or skill is a frequent contributor of poor performance, these are not always to blame. For example, there can be issues within the organization relating to management culture or a clash of incentives throughout the floor. Therefore, the cause of a problem should be identified before imposing you need to create an eLearning course.
The thing to ask is: “What is going on in your organization?” It’s crucial that you tackle this angle to uncover the root of the problem.
To figure out what's causing the performance issue, you should first define the current level of performance, then point out the desired level of performance and finally, compare them both to determine "The Gap" (problem we’re trying to solve).
If you discover a gap exists, it can help you identify whether or not an eLearning course will solve the problem. If you determine that there is a lack of knowledge or skill and that eLearning could address it, you’ll now have a better idea of the behaviors you want to change.
Use some of the questions below as a guide to narrow down your answers:
- Why are you considering creating this training? Use the impact map to answer the ‘why’. Use the work of Robert O. Brinkerhoff,
Image source: Anewspring
- What are the causes of your problem?
- Supposing the problem is poor performance, do employees know what to do? Do they have the information to carry it out? Do they have the motivation to complete the task
- How can it be addressed through training?
- Are there influential factors outside of training? Are those being addressed in this course
- Is training enough to solve the problem? Will additional intervention be required to address additional factors?
As you answer questions, you will be even more clear if training (eLearning course) is the answer.
If you detect there is a problem that eLearning can solve, then you need to prioritize the knowledge and skills which need to be taught in your eLearning course.
2) DEFINE YOUR GOAL - THINK IN TERMS OF LEARNER’S NEEDS!
Supposing you have determined that eLearning is the best method to address your current performance issue, it’s time to go a little deeper and polish up that goal.
What will come of this? Instead of just enrolling entire departments into your eLearning course, you should do a skills-gap test, where the learners are filtered according to their knowledge level on the subject. While the first option might be much fast and easy, it doesn’t address a critical point: What do learners need to learn? You should consider the individual needs of learners and make the experience more personalized.
It’s imperative to look beyond the subject/ knowledge and current ability. Identify what they are eager to learn and incorporate that in to drive learners to tackle and minimize the gaps themselves. Doing this will guarantee that your content is viewed as relevant, interesting, and rewarding, making it far likelier to produce positive results.
While this can take time to create and review, it is worth it in the long run!
To elevate the learning experience for the learner go through these points:
- Statement of visible performance: Use actionable words that stress what the learner will be "doing.” This will clarify the act required from the learner in the instructions. This word will be unrelated to the strategy of the course or the behavior of the instructor. Examples of some statements of visible performance are: write, construct, compare, develop, complete, connect, prepare.
- Condition Description: It's extremely important to elaborate on the conditions (if any) under which the tasks are expected to be carried out. An example of where to begin can be, “Is there equipment or materials that the learner will be expected to use when performing a task (e.g., forms, tools, manuals)?” Answering this one question alone can lead to a step by step process of how to use it properly.
- Standard Performance: Defining a standard level helps to manage expectations. An example, “The training will inform employees of 2 major processes which will reduce customer care errors by 50% by the end of the next quarter.” Use the following questions as a guide to setting you're the bar on performance:
- What is the standard of performance that is required to manage this task?
- How well does that job need to be done to be considered competent?
- Is there a time limit (e.g., within one minute) that is critical?
- Is accuracy critical?
Once defining and analyzing is carried out, you will be on your way to meeting your learner’s needs, and your businesses’ as well.
3) HOW WILL YOU KNOW IT WORKED?
Setting your intention makes the progress of your work easier to follow because defining what you want the learner to know, helps determine whether it's been achieved. Keep in mind that all learning is designed to take the learner from one state to an intended future (more advanced) state. In other words, TRANSFORMATION needs to occur.
Just throwing out a course at your learners and hoping for the best will not work. Review the questions below to help guide you in defining your metrics:
- What do they already know? Always start here! You must not be part of the “empty bucket” approach to training where it is assumed the learner knows nothing and needs to be filled like a bucket from the font of knowledge that is the teacher. Understand what your learner knows and start from there!
- What would people be doing differently as a result of participating in this training? Mainly, what change needs to occur?
- What will people be doing at the job that they are not doing now? In other words, what skill or knowledge gap will be reduced through the content provided?
- Revisiting our first point, if additional intervention is required, how will it be working with training to produce the desired business results?
So, in an effort to drive the point home, answer this:
“What will the learners be able to do differently once they have completed your training? What will mark the before and after?”
Common responses are:
“They will be able to use the safety guards effectively.”
“They will be able to find the appropriate legislation.”
Refrain from, “The learners will understand…” it’s lazy. Go further. The examples above are vague as they do not establish a ‘why,’ which is important to encouraging the change in behavior or thinking that will lead the learner-centric design.
Training is a handy tool that can address various gaps in your business. However, upon receiving the request to design a course, ask yourself what people need to be doing that they aren’t. Be aware of the additional factors involved. If you deliver the right information to the right people in the appropriate format, it’ll work, but make sure you are open to knowing what each of those is. Use the essential points and questions above to analyze your business needs first and then if required, design the best eLearning program possible. Ensure that you will render the outcomes for the time and efforts invested.