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Something that sends a chill up the spine of any trainer is the requirement to design or deliver a course that employees will see every year for their entire career. Sexual harassment in the workplace, hazardous materials handling, CPR training, HIPAA compliance, and so on. Perhaps more importantly, the training is often dreaded by the participants as well. They’re wondering, “Why do I have to attend exactly the same class I’ve gone to for the last 14 years?!”
How can you make these courses engaging and successful? The answer rests in strategy, methods, and delivery.
If the opportunity and infrastructure exist within an organization, consider putting some of those “required by law” courses online. To lower my car insurance, I recently completed an elearning course on safe driving. I’ve been driving for many years, so most of the course content was familiar to me. Despite the familiarity of the content, having the option to move through the course at my own pace, with modules I could easily bookmark and return to, made the course comfortable and more engaging. I learned a few new things while the course also reinforced those items I was already familiar with. Some organizations require in-person attendance in an instructor-led training session during the first year of employment for some of the mandatory classes with the option of completion through an elearning course for successive years.
By regulation, many of the mandatory classes have predetermined content. However, the way the content is brought to the learners may provide a degree of flexibility. In instructor-led training (ILT), virtual classroom (VC) training, or an elearning tutorial environment, using methods that appeal to adult learning preferences is a way to make the mandatory classes more palatable. For example, in an ILT/VC environment, discussion is a presentation method that is based on what the participants have experienced. In an elearning tutorial, using non-linear navigation builds on the principle of self-direction and can test to the same standard required to demonstrate compliance. Also, gamification of the content can make it more enjoyable for the learners.
Finally, the way the instructor manages the class can make it more engaging for the participants. Here are just a few instructional techniques a seasoned instructor has at his/her disposal to make the training more enjoyable: acknowledge the experience the learners bring to the classroom as content is covered; use question and answer techniques; provide positive reinforcement; use discussion, active reviews, and lecturettes based on demonstrated knowledge or skills, and inject an appropriate amount of fun into the training.
Bottom line, mandatory annual training must be delivered or you expose the organization to rule violations or legal risk. If the training is presented as canned, unchanging, dry material, it conditions learners to expect that of any class offered. This contributes to the impression left with the target audience that training is irrelevant and a waste of time. On the other hand, if the training is engaging and enjoyable because of the strategy, methods, and delivery, training is established as something in which the learners want to participate.
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