Thursday, February 13, 2014

The top learning miss-steps that start-ups make. Part 3

Living and working as a Learning Pro out in Northern California I see and hear about a lot of training that is not serving an organization in the way it should.

So I've put together a list of the most common miss steps and mistakes I've seen and some thoughts on how these can be course corrected.

The first posting on this was about how Founders think that their systems are more obvious and intuitive than they may be.

The second was about cramming too much content into a course.

Here is the third and there are more to come.......

We'll move our classes online.

In their early days most start-ups do their training live as part of a high touch implementation. As they grow they often find that this option no longer scales beyond the 1 or 2 sessions a month they did in their first months and maybe years. The solution that so many of them take is to simply move their live class to a virtual classroom. As a concept the virtual classroom is fine and has be successfully implemented by many organizations.

Three problems however tend to rear their ugly heads.

  • Firstly that any weakness in the existing content get amplified by the physical disconnect between the facilitator and the learners.  A good 'stand up' trainer is constantly scanning the faces of their learners, looking for nods of understanding or those puzzled looks that indicate that it's worth spending a few extra moments on this point or that concept. Even the best online classroom tools do not give the facilitator that level of connection
  • Secondly most online facilitators don't really know the full functionality of their delivery platform and those that do all too often don't use that full functionality.  Trainers who would never dream of starting a live class without putting a flip chart sheet up on the wall to act as a parking lot, so often don't bother to get everyone using the chat capability of their tool if only to say Hi.
  • Thirdly using virtual classrooms make it much harder to give the learners an opportunity to demonstrate that they have learned. In a live classroom people can work in groups on role plays or to create teach backs or other tools. If you are dealing with software use then a classroom will usually have the learners using some sort of sandbox to show that they can follow the processes they have just learned. 

Moving your content online does not mean you have to completely rewrite it, but it is worth a good look to see if the three problems outlined above are risks to the learning being effective.

Lesson structure can be altered to get regular check-ins with the learners, facilitators can learn and use best practice with their tool sets and facilitators can hand control of their environments to the learners to demonstrate learning.

There are solid solutions, but first you must understand that you need them.

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