Even with greater access to social, mobile and online education, in many organisations – and maybe even yours – the default tool for learning and development is still the traditional training course. Traditional training courses do still have their place, though, but you can improve them by enhancing the classroom experience with other activities. This approach is broadly known as “Flipping the Classroom”.
In the traditional teaching model in schools, students sit quietly in a classroom and get “lectured to”, and then leave with homework that includes interactive activities like group exercises, discussion, and case studies. “Flipping the Classroom” turns this on its head: The students get all the lecture material as pre-work (which is possible now because it can be provided online); and in the classroom, they do the interactive activities to embed the learning.
You can apply the same principle to your training programs, although you probably won’t go as far as “flipping” them entirely. Team members still attend traditional classroom-based training programs, and enhance their learning with additional resources before and after the course.
Depending on your authority, you can either ask the trainers to provide this additional material, or you can provide it yourself. In the latter case, even if you’re not an experienced trainer, there are so many resources available online now that you can easily find suitable material to complement a training course.
These additional resources give a new lease of life to the traditional training course. Instead of throwing it out altogether, you can “stretch” it with other features.
Before the course
Here are some of the things participants can do to prepare for the course, and the tools they can use:
- Assess their ability: online surveys, diagnostic tools, personality profiling
- Identify specific goals: workbooks, guided e-learning
- Do pre-work: videos, reading material, audio
- Meet other participants: videoconference or teleconference call, webinar
- Meet the trainer: webinar, individual Skype or phone call to discuss individual needs
This sort of pre-work helps each participant get more value from the course and helps the course presenter tailor the material so it’s more relevant and appropriate.
After the course
Even if you’re providing training courses for the right reasons (and not just to “tick a box” for compliance purposes), it’s not easy for participants to use the new skills when they return to their desks. Again, there are a variety of techniques and tools participants can now use to embed the learning:
- Re-assess their ability: online assessments (ideally compared with their pre-course assessment)
- Access to the trainer: individual access (Skype, phone, e-mail) and group access (follow-up webinar, online forum, group videoconference)
- Access to resources: additional material that supplements the course
- Drip-feeding reinforcement: material sent automatically at set intervals
How will you stretch the training for your team?
From a technology and cost viewpoint, these are all easy to provide and can provide huge value to participants. Some trainers will suggest these options to you, but many won’t. Take more responsibility for your team’s ongoing development, and build these sort of activities into every training program they attend.