Employees are asked to process massive amounts of information. Some, such as simple facts, product details, due dates, use examples, or common procedures, might be best presented in a quick-access database or a job aid: a chart, table, infographic, or checklist. … [Others] lend themselves to presentation via instructional videos, perhaps accompanied by searchable manuals. Choosing the right format makes the information more accessible and useful.
Learning occurs in a variety of situations; a learner can be enrolled in a long-term course of study or simply be seeking information needed right now. Learners might be in an office setting, at one of dozens of stores or outlets in a large business, or on the road, calling on customers or making sales. They might need the “right now” information to solve a problem, figure out or remember how to perform a particular procedure, or adapt what they are doing to a new or unusual situation.
A traditional-format online course is not always the most effective approach to online training. eLearning can take any of a number of formats: a one-hour learning module; an infographic or diagram; a video or simulation; a microlearning module. You can also deliver it in many ways: synchronous or asynchronous courses, “just in time,” or on a schedule. Delivery might be via learners’ laptop or desktop computers or sent to their mobile devices. The goal might be to impart knowledge (facts and information) or to teach a skill or improve performance.
Therefore, there’s no single answer to “What’s the best way to provide training?” When choosing a format for online learning and a delivery method, managers should consider how and when employees will use and apply the learning. Here are five questions to help managers decide what type of eLearning is appropriate:
Will this training stand alone, or will it complement or form part of a deeper course of study?
Microlearning and just-in-time modules are ideal for stand-alone training. These formats also work well to refresh learners’ memory of processes and procedures or quick facts that they might have covered in a longer training course. But for deeper concepts, strategic learning, or complex topics, a longer-format course is more suitable.
When and where are learners likely to need this training?
A sales rep making calls on potential customers might need just-in-time training, available in a quickly searchable mobile format that provides quick facts about products and short demo videos the rep can call up on a tablet during sales meetings. Employees who perform a particular procedure only occasionally might need a refresher video or infographic that steps them through the procedure. You can easily provide these types of trainings as microlearning modules that they can access from their desks; for employees who are in stores or on the go, mobile formats that they can access on tablets or mobile phones are a better choice.