Do you remember the first time you rode a bicycle without training wheels? You might’ve crashed into the bushes a few times, but do you remember the feeling of empowerment the first time you pedaled down the sidewalk on your own?
That’s the empowered feeling we want every user to experience the first time they log into our new Absorb Learning Management System (LMS) on July 1st! We’ve spent months creating and customizing a training and support plan that began rolling out to all levels of LMS users in mid-June.
Here's some of the training industry’s best practices that we’ve incorporated into our LMS training plan:
• Pilots, pilots, and more pilots!
Piloting is an essential best practice for every new training course – no matter how small or large your training program is! There is simply no way to fully vet the logistics and content impact of your training without one or more practice sessions in front of “typical” learners.
For our LMS Training program, we conducted two complete pilots with current administrators. In these sessions we tested the effectiveness of our job aids, the course content flow, our facilitation approach, the class learning activities and the overall relevance of the content for the learners. At the end of each pilot, we asked for specific feedback and improvement suggestions on all of those components. The breadth and depth of feedback we received in those sessions allowed us to make substantial improvements to the training program before our official roll out in mid-June. This level of improvement would not have been possible without the advantage of several “dry runs” with a sample of our targeted audience.
• Utilizing job aids in the classroom to ensure post-training usage
Job aids or similar performance support tools are external memory support resources that are usually made accessible once learners return to their job. For the LMS training, we intentionally integrated job aids into our classroom teaching approach to help learners quickly become comfortable with using them to accomplish common tasks. Putting job aids in the hands of learners early in the training is an effective way to encourage use once learners return to their work environment. For the LMS training, we also provided two ways to access the job aids – hard copy and electronic posting. Providing learners with hard copy job aids can be risky, especially with software and systems that tend to be upgraded frequently. The danger with hard copies is that out of date job aids can remain in circulation indefinitely. After considering the risk, we decided that only primary LMS processes that were unlikely to change would be included in the hard copy job aid books we distributed during classroom training. Job aids for tasks and processes that are more susceptible to updates will be delivered through electronic means only.
• Designing instruction using proven cognitive techniques
Designing instruction that people will learn from and be able to recall when they return to their work environment is key! There are proven instructional techniques that can be incorporated into training delivery to enhance the likelihood that learners will be able to recall and use their new skills after leaving the classroom. Here are examples of some techniques we incorporated into our LMS training approach:
Teaching relevant concepts first: Sequence your training by teaching key concepts first followed by teaching and practicing task steps or processes. Evidence shows that teaching concepts up front helps learners grasp the task steps quicker and more easily.
The LMS training class follows a standard, intentional structure that first introduces learning objectives, conceptual information, and definitions surrounding tasks. Next, learners are given the opportunity to follow a job aid and work through the tasks in the system, following sets of process steps. Scenario-based exercises conclude the training session; these provide the learner with practice that reflects what they will experience in their work environments.
Teaching for near transfer: Transfer refers to the extent to which a learner can apply new knowledge and skills from one setting (the classroom) to a different setting (their work environment). Near transfer means that the way people learn the task in class is almost exactly the same as the way they will use it in their job. The other type of transfer is far transfer and refers to problem solving skills that are learned in the classroom but may be applied differently by the leaner in different real life situations.
The LMS training was focused on the near transfer of skills and knowledge. Our activities and scenarios were designed to be very similar to ways in which the leaner will be using the LMS in their real work environments.
Activating prior knowledge: The “stickiness” of new information can be enhanced by integrating it with pre-existing knowledge. This technique provides a familiar context for the learner and increases their ability to learn and remember the new information.
Utilizing that technique during the LMS training, we consistently made connections between the way specific tasks were performed in the current LMS and how those same tasks would be accomplished in the new LMS.
Delivering the same content to every class: Many times, a training rollout is large enough to require multiple sessions and multiple trainers. For those situations, standardized delivery approaches can ensure that every class receives the same information, in the same order, no matter when that class is delivered and no matter who is teaching the class.
For the LMS training delivery, we developed a facilitator’s guide that defined the order of delivery for specific topics, activities and processes. Our two facilitators tested the guides during our pilot classes to ensure that they were comfortable with the content flow and that they were achieving the desired level of consistency between classes. The two most important benefits of standardizing your delivery are ensuring consistent performance outcomes across the learner population and allowing trainers to apply universal improvements when content and/or and delivery is not reaping desired learning outcomes.
WPO is excited to introduce the Absorb LMS next week and is on hand five days a week to answer your questions and support your success with the new LMS. Department and one-on-one consultations are available by appointment and the Learning Exchange inbox is the central point for all LMS questions. Please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
The new job aids will be available on the WPO website, too. Just follow this link: http://www.mc.vanderbilt.edu/root/vumc.php?site=wpo&doc=39931