How to Revamp Your Professional Development Program Plan for 2019
The transition from away from laptops to tablets and smartphones has completely changed the way we work and consume content. Nearly everything that we once set aside time for has become a fleeting activity, one that can be seamlessly woven into our daily schedules. We fire off an email from our phone before sitting down to dinner, watch a quick episode on Netflix while waiting at the doctor’s office, and scroll through social media feeds while standing at the train station. This trend of consuming bite-sized pieces of content has been rapidly seeping into every facet of our daily lives. Well, except for one—Professional Development. The training industry has been particularly slow to adopt this “on-the-go content” model, likely for a few reasons.
First, studies show that in-person, instructor-led training still produces significantly higher retention rates than any form of virtual learning alone.
Second, corporate training programs are often developed with rigid budgets, limited resources, and strict student schedules in mind.
Many companies operate under the assumption that making any significant changes to current employee education and development programs requires a significant additional investment.
However, this isn’t usually the case. With the right strategic planning, existing resources can be used to create a training program that’s truly tailored for today’s dynamic workforce.
And no, that doesn’t mean throwing all your manuals online as downloadable PDFs, making a couple of instructional videos, and calling it good. Though the cost-savings and appeal of on-demand, self-paced training may seem enticing, training programs that rely exclusively on eLearning often see completion rates as low as 15%.
A New Way to Learn and Train
So what does professional development that fits our lives really look like in 2019?
The teaching space of tomorrow is one that bridges the gap between the physical and the virtual world, one that takes full advantage of the strengths of each. It utilizes a hybrid learning model, allowing instructors more opportunities to connect with learners through both live lectures and hands-on breakout sessions, no matter where they are. Interactive content and media provide essential context for a richer, more constructive dialogue between students and instructors.
These are the core pillars of a successful, budget-conscious learning experience in 2019:
- Easily Consumable Media
- Interactive eLearning Content
- Remote Collaboration Technology
- Live Instructor-led Sessions
Easily Consumable Media:
Mastering this category is crucial to maximizing your budget. When developing your content delivery plan, identify any pieces of content that can be consumed individually. In most cases, this is media-based content like image galleries, infographics, and most importantly, video content. Put this content somewhere where it’s accessible to your students 24/7, so that they can access it when it’s most convenient for them. By removing content that doesn’t require interpersonal engagement from instructor-led sessions, you ensure that you’re making the most of your learner’s time with their instructor.
Remote Collaboration Technology:
Most online collaboration tools were initially designed with business communications in mind. Only later were they adapted for training purposes. New, dedicated virtual collaboration and learning tools allow not only for communication between students and instructors but also student-to-student engagement. When combined with cloud-based lab environments and digital content delivery systems, all students, regardless of their proximity to the instructor and in-person class, can now participate in a meaningful way.
Interactive eLearning Content:
If you’re not building a new training program from scratch, be sure to leverage existing training content as much as possible. In many cases, learning materials developed for a particular mode of learning (on-demand, virtual, live instructor-led) can be easily adapted and enhanced for success. The modification of content may involve dividing modules into smaller portions, interspersing polls, incorporating virtual group breakouts within lessons, and finding other creative ways to improve training materials so they are more visual and interactive. The key is to leverage available technology to enhance learner interaction with the course content.
Live, Instructor-Led Sessions:
For thousands of years, dialogue and discussion have been proven to be the most powerful tools for learning. Though new learning tools change the dynamic of those exchanges, instructors should be encouraged not to change their style of teaching when adopting new technologies, but to tune their content and presentations to create meaningful interactions with local and remote students, as well as between the students themselves. Most presenters are quick to realize the benefits of visual interaction and increased accountability for remote attendees. This new classroom experience focused on active participation and learning results in better learning outcomes for all students.
With the explosion of eLearning in recent years, many companies have found themselves trying to decide between synchronous, instructor-led programs and asynchronous, on-demand training programs, attempting to determine which is best suited to creating an efficient, flexible, and convenient experience for students. However, as we’ve outlined above, it’s not necessarily a binary decision. Embracing the benefits of each model is the only way to create a training program that truly fits today’s professional learner.
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