I recall a story where a trainer said to her participants,
Although this is a statement of fact, in my mind I thought that the trainer seemed to have missed a golden opportunity to make the learning stick to her learners’ minds.
Consider training and work situations as two islands. Trainers, instructional designers and developers build the bridge that interconnects the two. We need to provide the workers an avenue where skills and knowledge learned in training can meet the demands, issues, and situations at work “as they happen.”
We’re Not Atlas
For some, the trainer’s myth that it is our job to follow up on how good the workers are at doing their jobs and applying ideas beyond training is unfair and unrealistic. It is like Atlas
carrying all the weight of the world on his shoulders. It’s not that learning professionals are trying to avoid responsibility but this is hinged on what actually happens on the ground. However, just because it’s hardly possible to check on everyone, it does not mean that there’s no way around it.
The importance of follow-up in the training process cannot be underestimated. It is during follow-up that workers are given time to reflect on their learning. Also, trainers are able to evaluate the effectiveness through feedback and results. It also is an opportunity to reinforce key learning points to the workers. It works! No doubt. However, follow-up requires time and resources from both trainers and workers. It can also be difficult when trainers and workers are unable to connect regularly.
Three areas to explore to make follow-ups effective:
||Self-learning – Encourage your learners to drive their own learning. Provide opportunities in your design and training that follow-up work and study are relevant and useful to learners.
||Easy to access references while at work – publish your references and learn-on-need materials so your learners can easily access them when the need arises. The references become so handy that it feels “it is always there.”
|| Build in your design work applications – focus your design with the intent of work applications. If your sessions are on point for work usefulness, learners will apply the ideas by themselves, instead of the need for follow-ups.
Learning is supposed to be an ongoing process. But we also have to realize that formal training alone will never be sufficient. More learning happens in the workflow, albeit informally. Study how people learn while doing work, involve their ideas, and try to embed follow-up methods or activities for a seamless, more efficient, and relevant learning process. The argument of whether follow-up is a trainer’s sole responsibility may be debatable but it doesn’t take away the fact that it is essential and highly beneficial to improving the workers’ learning and performance at work.
Ray Jimenez, PhD
“Helping Learners Learn Their Way”