Training in the 21st Century

“Cheaper” Can Be Costly: A Case for Investing in Self-Paced ELearning

Self-paced e-learning is more expensive to create than real-time curricula, but the savings begin immediately and it’s an investment that pays off in multiple ways. Like buying a rug or carpet, you can spend more upfront for something that will really work and be usable for an extended period, or you can buy something that is cheaper initially, may not have the look and feel you want and will need to be replaced within a few years. Most of us have learned that, ultimately, the cheaper choice actually costs us much more in a number of ways.

Self-paced e-learning is an amazingly flexible component to include in any blend of learning tools. But an hour of self-paced e-learning costs much more to create than an hour of real-time curricula (approximately $10,000 compared with $6,000 for design, development and production costs). However, once the e-learning is created and uploaded, Continue reading →

Want Executive Management to Sign Off on Your New Training Initiative? Speak Their Language.

Earlier this year, I attended two presentations by two different presenters for different professional associations (NCHRA and ASTD-Golden Gate), but on the same topic: how to talk to the executive level of organizations. Both were designed for internal staff who wanted to develop more effective strategies for proposing new Learning and Development initiatives that would result in approval and implementation. Both were VERY well attended, with higher than average attendance for these regular meetings.

During the interactive exercise and discussion phases of the presentations, it became clear why so many people had chosen to attend: coming from Training and Human Resources, with challenges and outcomes that are often difficult to assess, the attendees didn’t speak the bottom-line P&L language of their organizational decision makers. Continue reading →

Training Survey Says: Part II—What Topics Are Most Beneficial

One of the biggest surprises from the survey conducted by Training in the 21st Century™ in September of this year were responses to the question, “What kind of training is most beneficial for your company to provide to its employees?” Respondents were able to select “all that apply” from a list provided.

Contrary to our expectations, Continue reading →

Training Survey Says: Part I—What Methods Work

In September, Training in the 21st Century™ posted an on-line survey on Training to learn more about what kinds of training methods companies are using, which seem to be most effective, and what new methods are planned for implementation. We’d like to thank all those who participated in this study. We hope the information we gathered will provide insights and ideas to each of them, as well as to our other readers.

Many respondents to this study are using a blend of methods for training: 45% use four or more of the training methods listed in the graph below,  Continue reading →

What Is Blended Learning?

The term “Blended Learning” is used to describe a mix of learning environments that combines old and new resources for learning and development. This strategy creates a more integrated approach for learners.

Computer technologies and the Internet have led to explosions of knowledge, with a resulting increased need for people to process and utilize that new information. Fortunately, those same technologies also offer a wide array of surprising new possibilities for learning and development. Many of the technologies people think of as resources for staying connected with friends, and for entertainment, are being incorporated into formal Blended Learning programs. Continue reading →

Reap the Benefits of Social Learning in Your Organization

Social Learning is the term for a new solution to an old problem: how to capture, vet and disseminate the amazing knowledge that people carry around in their heads? When people work in the same location, they learn from each other in a variety of informal ways:

  • Observation and modeling
  • Casual conversations at the water cooler— where a moment of venting about a tough problem can offer an unexpected solution
  • A purposeful trip across the room or down the hall to the resident “expert,” whose store of valuable knowledge, and readiness to share it, is well-known within the organization. Continue reading →

Two Types of Immersive 3D Experiences and Their Impact on Training

Two types of immersive 3D experiences are being researched and discussed in relation to training, and it seems important to try and separate the two. Most people familiar with monitor-based 3D environments know the experience as one in which small figures/avatars act as our agents inside the world we see on our monitors: We use our keyboards and mice to direct our avatars, inside our monitor screens, to interact with other people’s avatars and with the environment around them, and to talk using VOIP or chat.

For most people, whether they’re playing video games or attending 3D training sessions, the monitor-based 3D experience is what they think of when they read reports of the impacts of 3D immersive experience on people’s real-life behavior and self-perception. Continue reading →

Why IBM Uses 3D Virtual Training: It Works!

IBM is one of several large, successful companies that have pioneered the use of 3D environments for their virtual training programs. Research they conducted1 to assess their 3D training programs’ effectiveness showed that simulation-based training improved information retention rates of employees to between 70% and Continue reading →

Looking For Lasting Results From Your Training Programs? Virtual Training Re-Introduces: Incremental Learning

Virtual training has reintroduced a possibility for teaching that had become rare in corporate training programs: the ability to offer incremental learning programs.

For many years, companies focused on marathon training events: People were brought from all over to attend training programs with back-to-back workshops and other learning activities. These were sometimes held at corporate training centers or, for the lucky, in resort settings. They incorporated experiential learning activities, as well as discussion opportunities, that encouraged people to exchange ideas, network and strengthen relationships with their peers. But once the training was over, it was back to “business as usual” in the same old office space—trying to catch up on work that had piled up. Perhaps that’s why post-tests have often shown conflicting results: Those administered immediately after training generally show high rates of learning. But tests given a few months later, as well as observations of behavior related to the training, often reveal that the information taught has mostly slipped away. Why? Too much information poured into people’s heads with too little time for them to reflect on, and practice, what they’ve learned.

Most corporate training involves changing habits: whether it’s replacing an established process, or implementing a whole new activity, it means that the old neural patterns involved in how we go about our work each day—that have become automatic—now require constant, conscious thought. The age-old teacher’s stricture to “pay attention” is exactly what is required to create new neural patterns that are, in essence, the infrastructure for new behaviors. But who has the time and energy for that? Especially after returning from a week-long training to a desk piled high with work, and a mailbox full of unopened messages. So most people come back from these great training experiences with the best intentions, but soon find themselves defaulting to old ways of doing things as they scramble to get back on top of the workload.

Virtual training technologies enable incremental learning processes that include practice, reflection, and time and energy to incorporate new ideas into everyday work—a little bit at a time. With the easy access and low cost of attendance, it’s now possible to deliver a 25-to-30 hour training program over several months. Participants log on early in the week to learn a little bit, then spend a few days practicing what they’ve learned. Near the end of the week, they “meet” again for a free-wheeling discussion of how the new ideas worked, and learn a little more to try out before the next class. This training process helps keep people focused on using what they’re learning. By the time they reach the last class, people will actually be applying most of what they’ve been taught. They’ll also understand why and how things work in ways that can’t really be learned in a week-long cram session. And they’ll be far along the path of establishing new behavior habits related to the training. That meets my criteria for a truly effective training program

Old Sayings and Cutting-Edge Technologies

There are a lot of old sayings we grew up hearing—and may even use—without having stopped to think about what the words mean. One that I’ve seen pop up often is “a hard road to hoe.” Now any road you tried to hoe would be a hard job, and since most people have done enough backyard gardening to know that a hoe is used on rows of plants, they would know, with a few seconds of thought, that the saying is “a hard row to hoe.” Nevertheless, I’ve heard this old saying misstated more often than I’ve heard it correctly used. My theory is that, like children who pledge allegiance to the “united steaks” or whose prayers are to “hairy Mary,” old phrases and sayings are memorized when we’re young and then used without ever really stopping to examine what they mean.

At the same time, and in contradiction to this, I believe that many old sayings are still around because they have multiple facets of truth that resonate with each generation. And so, they continue to be used and passed on for generations. Two that I’ve been thinking about recently, and have connected together, are hundreds of years old: “A penny saved is a penny earned,” and “penny wise and pound foolish.”

“A penny saved is a penny earned,” ascribed to one of our great thought leaders, Benjamin Franklin, seems like a simple and straightforward statement, but what did Franklin actually mean? Is it the difficulty of withstanding the temptation to spend that penny on penny candy, and forego immediate gratification to save it for something that will offer more long-lasting satisfaction? Is it the effort to research and comparison shop to find that great bargain, rather than pay top dollar? Is it the strategizing, creating and implementing of a new process or procedure that makes things run more efficiently, so those pennies saved add up to significant value? Given that it’s Ben Franklin, and that the saying has been around so long, it’s probably all of the above. And that brings me to the other old saying, “penny wise and pound foolish,” that predates Franklin’s pithy, multi-faceted truth by 200 years or so, but seems to me to be connected to it. It certainly sums up one of the possible interpretations of Franklin’s saying, that we earn those saved pennies by effective strategizing, planning and implementation.

One way of being penny wise and pound foolish is to do something more efficiently, but less effectively—in other words, to sacrifice quality by cutting costs. In the short term, companies that try this strategy do save pennies, even dollars, but as quality issues start to surface, they begin to pay heavily for violating an old, established truth: Rebuilding a bad reputation is much more difficult than maintaining a good one.

So what does this have to do with new technology? It’s simple. New technologies offer efficiencies for saving both money and time. But in the long run, they have to enable effectiveness and not just efficiency. From the standpoint of training, we must focus on how to utilize training methods and technologies in the most effective ways, given the content, participants and goals. This is a much more complex decision than ever. But saving a penny by considering only costs is likely to be penny wise and pound foolish. That narrow thinking won’t result in any pennies saved or earned, because lessons poorly taught won’t be learned. And what’s the value of that?

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