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The Secret to Designing Training For Busy Schedules

— by Bill Cushard

Course development

When one gets started in e-learning, it is easy to think, “This is great, now we don’t have to do classroom training anymore.” This is certainly one benefit of e-learning. However, you do not have to think of this as an either/or proposition. In fact, an effective and popular way to use e-learning is in a blended approach that combines live training and self-paced e-learning.

There are a variety of ways in which blending learning methods can be applied. In his Chief Learning Officer Magazine piece, “Learning Bursts: A Different Way to Deliver Training,” Dave Basarab lays out a method of effectively breaking up learning experiences into short bursts that can be used in combination with live or other self-paced training, OR completely replace classroom training.

You’ve Got One Hour

Learning bursts, a form of blended learning, are a great application of Mindflash to develop and deliver training in short digestible bursts, especially in environments that are moving fast and changing rapidly. I cannot tell you how many arguments I have had with management that go like this:

“Based on the requirements and learning needs, the training will take about three hours, especially if you want there to be some practice,” I say to the manager.

“Three hours? I cannot give up three hours with the deadlines we are facing,” says the manager. “In any case, this is not that hard. You ought to be able to train it in less than an hour. Let’s do that?”

Have you ever had this conversation?

This conflict is not going away. Businesses are under pressure to perform and people cannot spend all day in training. We have to accept this. So, in an environment like this, learning experience (LX) designers need to figure out how to deliver learning content that can be consumed by learners on their own time. Whether it is on their own time on a laptop, desktop, tablet, or smart phone, more and more of what we do needs to empower learners to learn much of what we design…on their own.

The Secret: Two Parts Self-Paced, One Part Live In-Class

Let’s look at an example. You have a project to create training to help managers run more effective meetings. This is an important topic for managers, and there are many ways by which it can be learned. Using the concept of self-paced learning bursts and blended learning, here is how that training might be structured.

Part 1: Lay the Foundation – Use Mindflash to create a 10 minute presentation on the fundamentals of how to run a meeting. In this training module, you can show how to create an effective agenda, distribute it before the meeting, how to keep the meeting on track, and assign next steps so people know what to do as a results of what was discussed in the meeting. Whatever the process or method, a Mindflash training module is used to cover the fundamentals of the topic.

Part 2: Assign an Action – At the end of the training module, set an assignment that requires participants to create an agenda for an upcoming meeting, have participants conduct their meeting, and then have them complete a self-assessment so they can evaluate their own performance against what was taught in the module. The self-assessment is a document that is attached to the Mindflash module for easy download.

Part 3: Host a Live Discussion – Schedule a live discussion session on a Friday afternoon, so people can come together in a conference room and discuss the results of their assignment. If you are really good, host that discussion on Yammer or similar enterprise social network. This allows participation among people from all over the globe and people can participate in the discussion on their own time. If you are a Yammer and a Mindflash client, you can install the Mindflash application in Yammer to combine them seamlessly.

That’s it. In the scenario above, we used a blended approach to bring the learning to the context of the work. This approach provides structure but also allowed participants to largely learn and take action on their own time. In a traditional setting, we would have hosted a 2-4 hour training session in a classroom to cover the same material, taking people away from their work.

Have Your Cake and Your People on the Job Too

Using Mindflash is more than just an either/or proposition in which one must decide, “Do we have a live classroom session OR create a Mindflash module?” Why not do both?

We’d love to hear what you are doing with Mindflash and/or with blending learning. Comment below and share your stories.

Bill Cushard, author, blogger, and learning experience (LX) designer, is a human performance technology (HPT) leader with extensive, in-the-trenches experience building learning organizations in start-up and hyper-growth organizations like E*TRADE, the Knowland Group, and Allonhill. You can follow him on Twitter or on Google+.

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Trakstar is a multi-product HR software provider helping organizations put the people back in people management. Develop and align your staff through better recruiting and applicant tracking, performance management, and learning management. For a more integrated solution to talent management, check out our website and request a live demonstration today.