Some trainers are exasperated when their trainees complete their systems training module and find that employees are not using the system as they were taught back on the job. It seems as if they left their new skills back in the training room. The types of systems training that I am talking about here are training on a new case management system, bug or defect tracking system, problem management system, and so on. Trainers become more than exasperated when the trainees’ managers start complaining to them that their training is a waste of time and energy.

All too many trainers then go off looking for a magic fix; some new piece of learning technology or breakthrough methodology. If you are in this position, before you start spending big dollars on a new LMS, media or method, review your existing training practices. Make sure that with your existing training, that you are covering the basics. Here is my set of structured checklist questions designed to get you thinking.

1. Are your trainees using a fully functional training or test system? (Or are they looking at PowerPoints?) Make sure that they can get in and get their hands dirty by performing actual tasks on a live or test setup.

2. Is the learning structured around everyday tasks? (Or is it structured around system functions?) Make the training task focused, organizing each section of the training around a specific process.

3. Are they working through real exercises? (Or is it a brain dump?) Make the training active by asking questions, interacting in groups, and so on, instead of using your trainees as passive receptors of knowledge.

4. Are you giving them problems/tasks to work out? (Or are they using lower level brain functions only?) Give the trainees task assignments, with clearly defined learning objectives that are based on what they will be expected to produce back on the job.

5. Are you assessing how much they have learned and used the results to refine your training? (Or are you relying on faith that the learning has stuck?) Conduct formative and summative assessments throughout the course to check retention and skill acquisition.

6. Have you supplied on-the-job tools to reinforce and build on the learning? (Or is it sink or swim?) Don’t let the learning end at the training room door. Supply reminder cards, flow diagrams, online help systems, and so on, that trainees can use back on the job.

Consider each of the questions in the above checklist carefully. Your thoughtful and honest answers may save you a lot of needless expenditure and energy on new technologies and methods. Think also about how trainees are supported in applying the learning on the job by their peers and supervisors. That’s the subject of a future post.

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