Workers Who Want To Learn Question The Value Of Employee Training
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Questioning The Value Of Employee Training

Attention trainers: We talked to your learners. They say they want to learn, but you’re failing to engage them. In other words, they question the value of employee training.

Okay, maybe we didn’t talk to your learners. But we did survey 550 workers, and chances are your learners are harboring at least some of the same complaints.

But before we get to those, consider this: 98% of the workers we surveyed said they consider company-sponsored education important for their on-the-job training and overall professional development.

Your workers want to learn. So much so that the majority of them are paying attention to your virtual sessions at least 80% of the time. And what are they doing when they’re not paying attention? 42% of them admit to tuning out… so they can continue working!

So far your workforce sounds like a great crew! But what about their complaints?

Let’s start with the 75% of learners who don’t feel the virtual training sessions they participate in are worth the time they lose from work. 75%!

Of course, that figure could be misleading. Perhaps workers are getting more from these sessions than they think they are. As long as you believe in the value of the knowledge that’s being transferred and your metrics show the knowledge is being retained, it’s all good, right?

Perhaps. But how much of this knowledge will actually stick? How much of it will actually be applied? When half of the learners we surveyed say as much as 60% of training content is not relevant to their jobs, things may not be going so well after all.

So Where Are Trainers Going Wrong?

56% of the learners we surveyed blamed their disengagement on the presenter. 44% said it would help if there were more engaging materials than just slides. (Video. Music. Heck, even a whiteboard. Grade school teachers have one. Why can’t we?) 29% said games within sessions could also go a long way toward livening things up. But ultimately, it seems the question of whether someone is engaged depends on one thing:

The engager.

Yes, even with all the sophisticated tools out there, you can’t leave out good old-fashioned teaching conducted by people who know how to keep people engaged. But this goes beyond how the class itself is presented. Engagement needs to be top of mind as the lesson plan is drawn up and as the supporting materials are created. Trainers must also use the tools that are available to them to mimic the in-class experience as much as possible. While most of our survey respondents said they didn’t find much value in their virtual training sessions, they did change their tune when asked about sessions that were conducted in person. This is the challenge. How can trainers immerse remote learners in the session as if they were all in the same room?

Bringing in gamification, social components, mobile, and custom-tailored learning to increase engagement is still crucial, but is it enough? Knowing your audience. Considering the visual elements. Incorporating video. Enabling microlearning. All important. But is it enough?

Virtual classroom technology is specifically designed for interactive engagement. These tools were built with collaboration and high involvement in mind.  They allow learners to benefit from the full experience of a media-rich session from anywhere, and anytime they want as if the session were still being held live. They also supports just-in-time microlearning, which many workers naturally turn to when they want only the information they need to complete a certain task.

But is it enough?

What Makes Good Teaching

If ultimately the effectiveness of your sessions come down to the teacher, then what is good teaching?

I poked about the web a bit and found a few teachers with some very sound advice:

Maria Orlando, a professor at Capella University, says a great teacher creates a sense of community and belonging”. While she was referring to the live, in-class experience, the ability to bind students in the spirit of togetherness is especially relevant in the virtual environment. It creates a higher level of engagement not just with the teacher and materials, but also each other.

Ken Bain, president of the Best Teachers Institute, thinks great teaching is all about giving great feedback. This, of course, goes both ways. Students need to demonstrate that learning is actually taking place. If they can’t, teachers need to determine whether the room for improvement lies with the learner or teacher or both.

This speaks to another characteristic all great teachers have: The ability to switch tactics on the fly.

But, according to Ellie Herman who teaches English in Los Angeles, great teaching isn’t just about the ability to educate. It’s also about the desire. Whether you’re a college freshman studying literature or a 36 year-old auto dealer brushing up on the latest management techniques, you want your teacher to care about your progress. Organizations, too, need to know their instructors are truly involved and working hard to ensure their learners are getting the information they need to work in full alignment with the business.

Here are more of the findings from our survey:

  • 9% say they are paying attention less than half the time.
  • 7% say they’re paying attention 50-59% of the time.
  • 8% say they’re paying attention 60-69% of the time.
  • 16% say they’re paying attention 70-79% of the time.
  • 30% say they’re paying attention 80-89% of the time.
  • 30% say they’re paying attention 90-100% of the time

In addition to more engaging presenters and materials:

  • 29% want the ability to directly interact with the presenter more.
  • 27% want quizzes to check their progress.
  • 24% want the ability to attend on their own time.
  • 20% want the ability to directly interact with their classmates more.
  • 19% want the ability to participate from a mobile device.

But you know which surveys matter most? The ones you get back from your own learners.

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