The Value Of Simulations When Creating eLearning Solutions For Application Training

Helping Learners Gain Skills Through Experiential eLearning Solutions

Regular training is a must for companies to stay ahead of the competition and keep the employees’ skills up to date or in compliance with the law. But the task in hand is easier said than done. With technological advances, employees have to learn new skills, techniques or processes at close intervals and that can be challenging for many companies. Application training often requires hands-on practice on machines or software – which many times- is not available during the training session. By the time they are available, the learners are already expected to know their way around the application, which reveals a startling gap in learning. While hands-on simulators and simulation-based training is not new – especially in fields like medicine, aviation or the military, they are now being utilized for other forms of training as well, including Application Training.

In a traditional approach to application training, the workings of an application are explained in a classroom scenario or in simply created text-based handouts which the learner has to read through. Since newer software or applications are often in a ‘testing’ phase or just not available for adequate practice instances, the learners gain enough theoretical information in this approach but they do not get a chance to acquire hands on experience. This leads to a lot of chaos in the initial days of implementation of the new software as new learners grapple their way around it – hampering work standards and output. Simulations for application training make the learner better prepared and help them master the application before starting actual work on it – making sure that the learner is more confident and is able to churn out adequate work standard as well as output.

Here Is An Example Of How It Can Be Done

For a large chain of hotels, we created a simulation based training module, which trains its employees on the working of a website used for buying supplies online. While the website makes buying supplies easier and faster, most employees were still attuned to the older mechanics of actually writing out invoices and getting things delivered from their vendors. The website was a new technology-based platform that they were not used to at all and needed to get adequate hand-holding in order to start utilizing it well. We created a simulation-based eLearning solution, which mirrored the website in looks as well as functionalities – including color schemes, layout, graphics and more. This helped the learners get familiar with the website and learn their way around it. We created the simulation in a tri-partite structure – each with a different level of interactivity built in to help the learner see, understand, and then practice.

  • Level 1: Label.
    The website had many sections and the learner had to navigate through the structure to get to the relevant section to place their orders in the right manner. The first level of the elearning solution was devoted to pointing out the different sections of the website – in logical flow that most learners would follow on the actual website. The labelling was done with the help of a series of clickable links, explaining the various functionalities built into the website. When the user clicked a link, a pop-up text would appear and explain to the user what that particular link does. This exercise was helpful in creating a necessary background.
  • Level 2: Explain.
    The next level explained all that the learner needed to do in the various sections. To make the explanations interesting as well as impactful, a series of ‘demos’ were created, where details were filled at relevant places to demonstrate an actual purchase being made through the website. The demos were also ‘clickable’ and the learner could click on specific fields to know what needed to be filled and how.
  • Level 3: Do it and do it again.
    Finally, the learner was given the opportunity to practice on sample forms – with instant feedback on their performance. Help menus were created to make sure that the learner could get support if he or she wanted – especially the first few rounds of practice. The learner was allowed unlimited tries on the sample forms, so that the confidence build-up is most and the utility of the learning solution is also heightened.
More and more forward thinking companies are turning to simulation-based learning to get a better trained staff, in a shorter time, and to save costs. Users are more engaged with simulation based eLearning solutions because in spite of its instructive aim, it is not always didactic. There is ample space for learning from examples and hands on practice. Simulators and simulation-based training also deliver continuity. Users are taught the exact same techniques and procedures, no matter where they are located around the globe. With better technologies to create life-like simulations, it is evident that simulations will continue to be the preferred route for experiential learning.
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