Why is a speed awareness course like eLearning?

So I received the dreaded brown envelope in the post.

It transpired that I had been caught driving at 82mph on a dual carriageway.

My first reaction, naturally, was one of indignation. Everyone has driven at 82mph on a dual carriageway, I’m not a bad driver, they should send that bloke that pulled out right in front of me the other day on this course instead. A couple of minutes passed of me being annoyed, followed by a feeble attempt to come up with some creative but rather implausible excuses before I accepted the inevitable.

Arriving at the course I didn’t want to be there, I didn’t think I needed the training or think that I would actually learn anything new or useful.

It struck me that this is probably exactly the same way many people feel when they are assigned mandatory eLearning. The feeling of ‘this is a waste of time’, ‘I won’t learn anything’ and ‘what even is the purpose of this other than to tick a box?’

The fact is that we all consider ourselves good people, the same way we all consider ourselves good drivers. Yet we all make mistakes. Sometimes we might not know as much as we think.

Much to my surprise I walked away from my Speed awareness course pleasantly surprised that I’d actually learnt a few things and understanding the value. I shook the trainer’s hands, thanked them, and walked out smiling. He hadn’t been that bad, some parts could actually be useful, I learnt a few things that were both interesting and practical. The trainers were lovely and clearly knew what they were talking about, and most importantly, I didn’t feel patronised or blamed.

If done right way the same is possible with online compliance training. But if it’s not, people feel patronised, bored and as if their time has been wasted.

So how can we turn a learner’s mind-set around. Make their compliance training genuinely useful maybe even finish a course with a smile? Here are a few things that, on reflection I thought made the biggest impact with my driver awareness course that could also apply well with eLearning.

1. Start with the assumption that your audience are intelligent and will already know many of the basics

It’s the simple things, like saying ‘yes you already know the basics and have lots of experience so we’ll just summarise really quickly then move onto the interesting stuff’. Rather than making the learners sit through a very slow voiceover they can’t skip past. Sure, it’s good to allow the learners to view all the basics, but let them skip on to the more advanced content quickly once they are sure they have understood these.

2. Ask Questions, create curiosity ask for a guess

If you tell me something straight off there is a good chance I may not be interested. Ask me an interesting question first and I’ll positively seek out the answer. In the case of my course we were asked how many people are killed in road traffic incidents. Take a guess? I won’t tell you my guess, but I can tell you I was miles out!

3. War Stories – The time it went wrong

For me, remembering figures and statistics is near impossible in the long term. I can cram my mind with facts for a couple of days before an exam or meeting, soon to be forgotten. Yet, I rarely forget a story, even years later.

It might be a technique as old as time, but I’m a firm believer in good stories being one of the most powerful tools we have in training and especially eLearning.

4. Provide useful shortcuts

3rd gear at 30 and 4thgear at 40 is a quick and easy moto I would have to try hard to forget. Yet apparently in modern cars it’s not only very fuel efficient, it will stop you accidently going over the speed limit. A simple memorable and practical piece of advice I could (and did) put into practice.

Are there simple shortcuts you can give you learners to make it easier for them to behave the right way? Are there even benefits they could get from following these easy methods?

5. Make people see another perspective.

Do you know why some signs in the UK are set on a yellow background? In fact do you know why warning signs are put up at all?

I hadn’t given much thought to it, but, if pressed on the issue I guess I thought it was just because some health and safely obsessed bod at the council had too much time on his hands.

It probably should have been obvious, but most warning signs are only put up reactively after someone has been seriously injured or killed. A yellow background indicates multiple casualties. It’s a simple piece of information, but it has certainly changed the way I look at warning signs.

Are there simple reasons behind your compliance procedures that could change a learner’s perspective? A real life case study within the company or industry that can make it if real for them?

Compliance training is never going to be anyone’s favourite thing, but there are plenty of things you can do to make it a more useful and positive experience.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas!

Why you should demand eLearning pre-work from your delegates

It’s not only about saving time. It’s about bringing every student or delegate into their most proficient space. Training becomes more efficient, more relevant and more profitable for all concerned. But the added ingredient is happy learners, and I can tell you why it matters.

Research confirms that positive emotion increases the attention given to a task, as well as thoughts and actions (Fredrickson, 2004). Providing learners with what they need to feel safe and confident is like turning the microphone on before addressing a large audience: You will be heard much clearer.

What L&D can learn from the delegate experience.

Pre-work has made my training courses much more enjoyable than the rest – and therefore been more effective. This has ranged from questionnaires or surveys to eLearning courses or short pieces of reading. In my experience, it’s an essential part of the course for all, not an optional headstart. It’s about time to competency – read whitepaper

Here are four reasons why eLearning pre-work before a face-to-face training programme creates happy learners and should be compulsory:

1. It levels the playing field

Pre-work ensures everyone knows the basics, preventing the newbies feeling perplexed and the veterans feeling bored.

Few things are more embarrassing for a delegate than being in a room and realising they have no idea what anyone is talking about. Especially when half the sentences are made up of acronyms. Conversely, it can be really frustrating when you go on a course and all of the content is incredibly basic, and people are asking questions that show no understanding of the topic at all.

2. Your delegates feel more relaxed and prepared

Sometimes, training can be stressful. When delegates feel confident that they are prepared (by completing an exercise or eLearning course) it makes the time much more relaxing and enjoyable. They know what to expect and you can keep up with with everything – plus the more advanced areas the trainer discusses make sense and add to your understanding rather than causing confusion.

3. Get straight to the good stuff

By letting people read, absorb and understand the facts before the course, you free up time for what the training should really be about: facilitating discussions and activities with the group so the students can put their new knowledge and skills into practice ASAP. This fits the ‘flipped classroom’ model, allowing for more student-centric and enquiry based learning with video lectures preceding the class considered the necessary pre-work.  

4. Prevent Information overload – pace the learning

When you go on a course that is very information rich it is impossible to take everything in. Giving your learners time to think, reflect and learn some of the content gradually, and by themselves, can be really helpful in preventing information overload. Time between learning will also help improve retention.

Don’t leave creating the best learning space until the face-to-face training. Start creating it now with eLearning opportunities that mean you can hit the ground running with happy learners on the day.

Design your eLearning programme with Commelius

How long does it take to be competent?

How long has it been since you started in a new role? How long did it take before you felt fully competent?

Having been in the same role for over four and a half years, until recently I was accustomed to being one of the most experienced people in the company. I knew how everything worked, who everyone was, what to do in each situation, all the clients and the stories that made up our shared memory. People came to me when they had questions or were in situations where they didn’t know what to do.

This all changed overnight when I began my role at a new company. On day one it hit me that for my first 2-3 weeks I was going to be effectively useless. Whilst I knew a great deal about the sector, my knowledge about my colleagues, our products and processes was practically zero. We are all out of our comfort zone when starting a new job.

Learning the ropes

When employees start in the organisation, move into a new role, or there are significant changes within the business, one of the main challenges is ensuring personnel are upskilled quickly. The better their training and the more quickly they can become competent, the better for everyone.

All of this is fairly self-evident. So how do we reduce time to competency for employees?

For me this really falls into two categories. Firstly, making sure people have access to the training and information they need to be able to do their jobs when they start. Most companies are fairly good at having this information, but the problem for the new starter is often where to find it. Whilst formal face to face training is better for asking questions and learning something in depth, you often have to wait many days or weeks for this to be scheduled in. Having access to quick guides or videos that can help you learn a piece of software, product or technique enables you to get started more quickly.

Secondly, and this is something that isn’t often thought about, but ensure they aren’t wasting time learning things that are not relevant to their role. One of my friends have told me they hate compliance training because it takes them a day and a half every year. Which, considering they sit in an office creating marketing materials, had me completely aghast.

Whilst I always understand the need to comply with legislation and ensure employees are safe, surely most jobs don’t require 12 hours of training for this.

Testing 123

One thing we’ve done recently with a client in the aviation industry with some of their compliance training, was creating an assessment first approach. Learners refreshing their knowledge of drug and alcohol awareness take the test first rather than at the end. Those that pass go straight to the summary information that just takes a couple of minutes. For those who don’t, they are taken to the content relating to the areas that they got wrong, then they can retake the test.

Through this approach, learners that had remembered everything had their course time reduced buy more than half. Those who had gaps in their knowledge we taken directly to the areas where they needed more training and didn’t have to spend time on things they already knew.

This approach saved thousands of hours of employee time, but still managed to get them to the same point of understanding. What is more, they were really happy about it.

Our client had people coming up to him saying, ‘It was quite weird because I did the pre-assessment and summary. Is that it?’ His colleagues were thanking him for being so considerate.

More and more of our clients are starting to realise that they can reduce time to competency in compliance. That doing this saves the learner time and the company money.

But most importantly, when the content is concise and relevant, you have happy learners and contented employees.

Productivity in a world of assumptions & distractions – what’s your experience?

Productivity: “A measure of the efficiency of a person, machine, system, factory etc., in converting inputs into useful outputs”* it’s all very factory, manufacturing, creating a thing related isn’t it? Producing more outputs per hour, by the same number of people (or less) = better productivity. Right?

It doesn’t apply in other settings, like in an office…..well not really – does it?

That word …….”productivity” …….does it make you shudder sometimes? – because everyone knows they could be more productive if they were a little less distracted or if they knew a little more, or knew what people assumed they know.  So why aren’t we more productive?

Let’s just roll back a little and I’ll tell you what got me thinking about this. Recently I’ve seen a few articles, studies and other blogs about the need for productivity increases, Digital IT skills shortages and that there is a growing skills gap between what people know and can prove and what employers need.

A lot of these studies were talking about the higher end skills gap – things like coding and programming, so I’d often not given them much consideration as that is not an area I have much knowledge about. Based on my experiences from working in both the public and private sectors I was often struck by how many people, me included (just don’t tell the boss!), had a  lack of skills on basic IT products, think MS Office products and the like.

So one report that really struck a chord with me was “Wake up to the digital skills gap!”**

Who’d have thought that the following would be true:

“Only 53% of the labour force said they are confident that their level of computer and/or internet skills are sufficient.”

“38% of respondents rely on their colleagues to learn how to use their computer or solve IT problems.”

“On average, the total amount of productive time lost due to the lack of digital skills is more than 16 minutes a day for every employee, of which: 35% due to inadequate computer skills, 28% due to inadequate internet skills, 16% due to problems using tablets and smartphones, and 21% as a result of helping colleagues.”

Now that kind of data sounds like a world of work that I know, and have seen way too often in both private and public sector settings  – but for some reason (don’t tell the boss!) lots of us also do this:

“60% of respondents had not attended IT training because they felt they didn’t need it!”

I think that’s because we assume and other people assume (and yes this time it really does make an ass out of ‘u’ and me) that everyone else has these skills and knows how to use that particular piece of software, if you are that 35 year old+ person you’ve been working way long enough that you know this stuff and if you are the 20year old + person you’ve been born with this stuff so you just know it too!

The report also identifies that over half of respondents who had not received any IT training in the past three years acknowledged that they needed training to improve their skills, but simply had doubts about the training methods currently available to them.

To be honest then it kind of looks like a big bunch of us are, maybe, tech & mobile savvy but we are actually just muddling through, with our minimal training, self-taught and ask a colleague knowledge when it comes to even the most common pieces of daily use software. Interestingly this is also backed up by some feedback to a previous survey and Blog that we did at Commelius where in response to a number of questions we found that 74% of people are looking to enhance their desktop skills.

The other thing I know is that when you’re asked to do a task that assumes you have a certain amount of skills, with say Excel,  is that some other work  task, or even (really don’t tell the boss!) YouTube, Snapchat, Facebook or even the BBC news site suddenly become really appealing or important!

So you see I think that, and for once I can say it’s backed up by studies!, there is a lot of productivity gains to be had by doing some really simple things – at an individual level stop assuming and start asking, go on that IT training even if it’s for stuff that you think you should already know! at a company level – provide access to good quality suitable training that’s going to fill the need that people have.

Does any of that sound familiar to you and where you work? I’d really like to hear what you think and if you’ve had similar thoughts & experience?

Andrew (off to practice macros) Kenny.

Commelius Solutions.

 

*businessdictionary.com

**Wake up to the digital skills gap! / © Vodeclic, A Skillsoft Company

Learning at Work – the New Skillset

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Welcome to the conversation

Whether or not you participated in our Learning at Work Week survey earlier this year, you can now be privy to the findings.

DOWNLOAD the report here.

The expected and the unexpected

We asked hundreds of L&D professionals to identify three main pain-points in the workplace – three areas where staff most need a boost in skills. This was at a time when thousands of L&D professionals were taking part in Learning at Work Week, hoping to increase employees’ understanding of the opportunities for learning and development and what those opportunities can deliver for the business and the individual. Continue reading

11 phenomenal quotes that will change your view on training your staff

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Have you ever come across a quote from someone famous or someone you remember from your history or literature class that struck a chord with you? What do you do with quotes like that?

I tend to keep them, or I share them with others especially if a quote inspires me or opens my mind to new viewpoints and possibilities. It does not necessarily have to be a quote from someone in the past, or someone everybody knows. Some fantastic quotes come from people we know such as our colleagues or friends. Continue reading

‘You lead when you create a future which does not yet exist’- Ken Ideus

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Leadership, e-learning, courses

When you think of a leader, do you think of a conqueror? A General? A politician? A CEO? Someone who takes charge during an emergency? Someone who motivates and enables people?

Leadership means different things to different people, and yet this is the most popular category for development according to our recent Learning at Work Week survey. In this short article, our guest writer, Alison Winter, explores what leadership is and the different components that make up a leader.

Leadership at work  Continue reading

Online learning experiences: can we log them with the Experience/TinCan API?

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ShareWith Learning at Work Week just around the corner and with its timely theme ‘connect’, more people are becoming interested in taking part in the debate on social learning and social media. So today I wanted to share with you a blog from our learning technology expert – Andrew Brown – who wrote about his recent exploration of TinCan/Experience API on social media.

What’s the learning tech like at the dawn of the 21st century? Continue reading

Twitter: speed dating for learners and coaches

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LearnI hope you’re as excited about the forthcoming Learning at Work Week as I am. Its ‘connect’ theme presents a perfect opportunity to write about some of my favourite topics and my recent ventures into social learning and social media.

Connect and share: the value of social networks for learning

When I think of the words ‘connect’ and ‘learn’ I can’t help but also think of social media. Maybe it’s because lately I’ve been using a little bit more of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube for learning purposes. I’ve also discovered a few new (at least to me) useful networking tools or features I’ll go into another time.

Some of you might be surprised or sceptical to the fact that a person can learn something useful from social media, but Continue reading

L&D, what you’re missing if you don’t connect, if you don’t tweet…

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Learning at Work Week – perfect opportunity to connect and debate

Connect

Learning at Work Week – the week in May when we as learners and learning professionals are reminded that learning can be fun and rewarding, and when we’re very much encouraged to grasp new knowledge and learn new skills.

This year’s event has an exciting theme – ‘connect’! This is perfect because such topics as social media and social learning, often considered essence of connecting and sharing, are buzzing on and off line, and many of us can relate to it. It’s also a great opportunity to start and engage in interesting debates and perhaps answer a few questions social media and social learning raise among the Learning and Development and HR community. Continue reading

How fully understanding meaning of words keeps you engaged

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How to keep healthy attitude to learning, part 2

Ethusiastic student

Last time I shared with you four (out of five) mind-sets that can help you stay positive and motivated when it comes to learning. These were:

  1. Seeing your ability and willingness to learn as a measure of your potential to survive
  2. Realising learning is a tool that allows you to be in control of your environment
  3. Knowing that you don’t know everything
  4. Be sure that you’re going to use what you learn

I saved the fifth for last because I wanted to elaborate on it in a bit more detail, and writing about it in a separate article seemed like a good idea. It might actually be the key to effective learning. So here it comes… Continue reading

Merry Christmas everyone!

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… and a Happy New Year 

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I don’t know about you, but I love Christmas, I love everything (well, almost everything) about it, and especially preparations leading to the festive season. The planning, the shopping, the cooking, the hunt for special gifts for friends and family. And here comes my favourite thing about it – we tend to think a lot about other people during this time of year which, I believe, brings out the best in us and people that surround us.

For example, at Commelius everyone gets extra creative during that period. It brings out a fantastic team spirit in everyone and this reflects in the work of our ‘e-learning squad’. This year they used their creativity and team spirit to make something special for you and share our festive cheer. We hope you’ll like it.

So get ready to have a bit of fun. Your knowledge about the Holiday season is about to get tested, and you’ll find out if you’re naughty or nice on Santa’s list.

CLICK HERE to play our festive game, and don’t forget to use the social media stamps at the end of the  quiz to share it with friends and colleagues.

Happy Holidays from all at Commelius!