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Top 10 tips for flexible and tailored learning

15th Apr 2010
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Allan Pettman gives his top 10 tips on how to use Web 2.0 tools to go 'beyond the classroom'.

1. Embed practical applications within the course design

 
People need practical experience and not just theory - otherwise organisations can't demonstrate or justify a return on investment. Offering hands-on experience also makes the training course more interesting if they have practical tasks as well as the theoretical exam at the end.
 

2. Combine traditional (classroom-based) teaching methods with self-guided learning

 
There's been a lot of talk in recent times about elearning and the opportunities it offers for self-taught and tailored training. However, it's important not to disregard the role of the instructor. People learn in different ways so there'll always be an audience who'll justify the need for a person to train them face to face, even if this is remote via a webinar.
 

3. Make learning interesting – use Web 2.0 tools (video tutorials, technical papers online, remote trainers on IM)

 
Nobody wants to be lectured at, no matter what they say. So it's important to make the learning process as varied and as interactive as possible. This means going beyond seminars and using the web for online courses and technical papers that trainees can access in their own time. This will allow both the trainee and company to reap the maximum benefits from the course as the trainee is more likely to be engaged and implement his or her training, leading to financial wins for the company.
 

4. Follow up the training course with practical tricks and tips

 
Too many training companies simply consider the course as the sole learning activity. It's important to provide resources and support for the learner throughout the training and afterwards. This allows individuals to get the most out of it, and importantly, work at their own pace. Establishing an interactive relationship between the trainer and client after the course will benefit both parties and position the trainer as a reliable and long- trusted partner.
 

5. Offer training at a time and place that suits the delegate

 
It's a fact that people want an easy life. Longer working hours and big extended families mean people aren't able to commit to weekly training sessions 'out in the sticks'. To get the most out of your trainees it's important to offer them a variety of training methods so they can learn at a time that suits them best. This could include elearning sessions in the privacy of their own homes or nine to five classes which accommodate childcare issues.
 

6. Raise IT training to the business level – tie it into the organisation’s learning and development programme

Getting sign-off on training budgets is getting harder and harder as organisations find it difficult to demonstrate a real return on investment. To make this easier, training vendors need to help establish learning and development programmes and show an understanding of the bigger picture – not just a one-off training course to fill one accreditation gap. Look ahead to where the industry is going and start advising your customers on how to implement learning and development and career progression programmes.

 

7. Training shouldn’t start and finish on the day

Start preparing delegates for a training course with information both in advance and after the course. Whether online, sending packs with relevant course materials through the post, or giving them a problem and seeing how they'd solve it during the course. This will help engage the delegate before they go on the course and hopefully show a better return on investment in the long run.

 

8. Ask the delegates what kind of training they want, and explain what training they get

 
It might sound obvious but ask your customers what they'd like and how they want to work. Preferred training methods evolve with the times, especially as technology and learning preferences change. It's crucial for the longevity of the client/trainer relationship that they get the most possible out of the training. At the same time, if, the training is more of a prescriptive activity for the organisation, it's vital to explain why it's taking place. By outlining the organisational and personal benefits of the training, the learner will be able to understand the context of the activity, which is a pre-cursor for learning.

9. Ensure the course can be evaluated so companies and delegates can measure its benefit and value

Often training is treated as a tick-box exercise instead of an output. It can be seen as a business driver, leading to competitive advantage and improved efficiency but it's just about how to make those links. Both companies and delegates need to be able to justify the money they've spent on the course. A company needs to reap the benefits through staff retention or increased efficiency. There’s no doubt that the lifelong learning agenda will continue. But its success depends on the options provided and how people consume them, whether via an instructor or self-taught. What is certain is that organisations are looking to measure return on investment, so the costs and benefits must add up.

 

10. Know the customer and what will add value for them so you can advise them what’s best

 
It's an age old rule – 'know your customer'. In times of recession, training budgets have never needed more justification. As a result, it's crucial that companies reap the benefits of the training they receive, whether through staff retention or increased efficiency. The more you know the company and what they need, the easier it is to identify what's lacking and recommend the right course for them.
 

Allan Pettman is the UK managing director of Global Knowledge. The company recently won the Innovation in Training Services Award at the IT Training Awards for the company's 'Collaborative Learning Programme'. For more information please visit www.globalknowledge.co.uk

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