Training Tools: Effective E-Learning
E-learning is a versatile and highly effective form of training. What is e-learning? It is training that is delivered electronically via the Internet or an intranet. Unlike traditional training, the trainer and the trainees do not need to be in the same room. E-learning can be self-directed, with trainees working alone, scheduling their own training.
E-learning can also be collaborative, with trainees communicating with one another and the trainer via e-mail, chat rooms, video, message boards, etc. The best e-learning is highly interactive, capitalizing on the capabilities of the electronic medium to create a stimulating presentation, often featuring graphics, audio, and video.
E-learning offers many benefits. Here are several reasons for you to consider using e-learning to conduct part of your safety training:
- E-learning allows you to present the same training content in the same way to a number of employees, which helps ensure training consistency.
- Alternatively, e-learning allows you to customize training to target the needs of certain groups of employees—or even individual employees.
- Online training programs are cost effective and are relatively easy to update.
- It’s easy to schedule training for shiftworkers, absent workers, telecommuters, etc.
- Any number of employees can access training materials at the same time or at different times, without having to leave their workstations to train.
- Training is available to employees anywhere and at any time that is most convenient for them.
- E-learning offers just-in-time training capability. For example:
- Employees tackling new tasks can review training materials just before beginning the task.
- Employees experiencing job problems can access online training materials to find solutions.
If you decide to use e-learning, choose or develop effective online training programs that are user-friendly and supply a tutorial and a “Help” function. Ensure that effective technical assistance is available 24/7. Choose programs that are highly interactive to get and keep the attention of trainees. Provide links to relevant online information and company-specific data.
Programs should also give trainees a chance to practice what they have learned and test knowledge through quizzes, case studies, and other assessments. Also, keep learning modules relatively short, no more than half an hour. Whenever possible, customize programs for specific groups of employees.
Prepare trainees for e-learning and provide support during training.
- Demonstrate the program in a group session so employees can see how it works.
- Ensure that trainees have the computer skills to use the program and the prerequisite knowledge and job experience to understand training content.
- Answer technical questions and let trainees know how to get tech assistance.
- Briefly review the principles of time management. Poor time management can interfere with self-scheduled e-learning.
- Encourage trainees to share knowledge and problems, offer one another feedback about training content, and work together in applying training to the job.
- Schedule a final date by which all trainees must have completed the program.
Monitor and evaluate e-learning. During training, track important data, such as how much time trainees spend training, progress through modules, test scores, and problems that prevent trainees from completing the program. In addition:
- Require employees to fill out an evaluation form after they complete an e-learning program. Forms should ask employees whether they thought the program was effective, what they liked and didn’t like about it, any technical or other problems they had using the program, etc.
- Evaluate the effectiveness of e-learning by observing employees on the job after training.
- Have they learned the skills the online program was designed to teach?
- Have their job performances improved as a result of training?
- Bring together managers and employees in focus groups to analyze and troubleshoot online programs and revise programs to meet training needs more effectively.
In today’s economy, organizations are cutting back budgets in every area—including training. E-learning is an efficient, cost-effective way to accomplish many types of training. Folded into an overall training program, e-learning can help keep costs low while keeping training quality high.
- Training 101 (safetygator.wordpress.com)
- Training and Development in Organizations: What Matters, What Works (psychologicalscience.org)
- Learning on the Job: Myth vs Science (psychologicalscience.org)