Increasingly as firms look to “do more with less”. Training such as health & safety and compliance training is delivered using eLearning platforms.
In the past much of this training was Click next>>Click next>>Click next>>test. You have passed/failed.
But thankfully things have moved on. If only a little at times.
There are challenges
Whilst we are more than 15 years after the turn of the millennium, many internal networks and their capacity set the limits for what can be delivered in the way of computer based training (CBT or eLearning). You only need to look at systems such as WiiU or Xbox1, to know that network driven learning content can be very rich. But then we have massive amounts of computer and internet bandwidth to deal with this.
But the problem is not just the technology
What tends to happen with compliance based training, is that a classroom course of 1-2 hours is taken and delivered online.
Unfortunately for the learners, we go from “death by PowerPoint” in a classroom, to the same “death by PowerPoint” online. Alone with no one to giggle with in a classroom. All social interactions have been removed. The worst of the learning content is retained.
To check that learners ‘understand’ the material, we then set crazy high pass rates for the end of module tests.
The courses often require tens, if not hundreds of minutes of reading and clicking. It is often way too long. Rarely is it broken into ‘bite sized’ pieces. We often fail to manage learners expectations about how many sections are in a module. How long to take. Then we sit them on their own, with no help. Is this really about learning, or being seen to “train” people? I do wonder how often this activity is a ‘backside’ covering activity, as opposed to a truly learning journey.
Here is where it starts to really go wrong
Often people can retake the course and test as often as they like. They are told by managers “they must pass”. As we all know sometimes the questions asked are not always clear. So things that people SHOULD get correct they don’t. Then it becomes a game of learning to get a “tick” rather then learning to learn.
We play the game of passing the test.
But it’s worse – it’s discriminatory
Often in these tests, when we retake it the order of questions change. In theory this is so that people cannot remember a set of answers just to complete the test. BUT, its discriminatory.
If a person with a strong memory for words takes it, they will remember the questions, irrespective of the order. However a dyslexic remembers shape and patterns so won’t have the same advantage. This is by definition discriminatory!
People learn to pass the test (get the desired scores) – not learn the material.
Do we want learning or conformance & tick box exercises?
What is the solution?
ELearning should never be the ONLY learning. It should be part of the learning journey. The material should be repeated in several ways. Using different learning vehicles. If we treat eLearning as part of the learning journey, then different things happen.
When difficult pass rates are used, people play the points game. They do not focus on the content. They focus on getting questions correct. Unfortunately may people that design or deploy eLearning, seem to believe that’s test scores reflect competence. The only competence being assessed is the ability to pass online tests!
Radical approach to compliance training
What if there was no pass/ fail score. Just a score. People will stop focusing on the scores, and have the space to focus on the material.
If the ‘report’ at the end said – “you go these questions wrong, have a chat with a colleague to help you understand”.
Make the activity learning led, not compliance led.
No blame culture – tick box exercise
I love the fact that many firms say they have a “no blame culture”, but then have a “pass/fail” system. A no blame culture needs to be about people saying they do not understand in order to learn. If there is a pass/fail rate that is too tight, we re-enforce a “no learn” approach to training. What does this say to the rest of the business about culture?
ELearning is a great tool. But much like the difference between delegation and abdication, we cannot abdicate safety or compliance training to a “self-directed” read, check, next – tick box approach.
ELearning is a valid tool
Don’t get me wrong. ELearning has its place. The modules need to be well designed. Short in duration. The communications needs to be clear and specific. A supportive environment needs to be put around such learning.
ELearning must NEVER be the only learning tool. It makes a great pre-requisite to on-the-job coaching or classroom learning. It can help ensure most people are starting at the same place.
Get rid of tight test scores, as this will just change the culture and attitude. It will not enhance learning.
Help people to learn the content – not how to “beat” the system. Always ensure that any learning is real learning and never a tick box exercise. If employees believe the “game” = pass rather then the “game”=learn, then unplanned gamification has been designed in!