Archives for: May 2015

The Psychology of Learning

Psychology of Learning

Mr. X is a designer in a well-known custom content development firm, who has a very important task at hand: To create a rapid eLearning course for the employees of a multinational company. Mr. X is very enthusiastic about this project and wants to make sure his employees have access to the very best. In his endeavor to create the ‘best,’ he makes a detailed list of all the principles he must cover in the course. He also takes great pains to cover the other necessary areas such as where those principles must be applied, planned worksheets, concerns of employees, concerns of management, etc. Three weeks later, the course is ready to be rolled out to the employees. 6 months later – the employees have not gained any information from the course, and the course is deemed a failure.This is not an uncommon scenario in the eLearning space. In their eagerness and enthusiasm to create a course, designers and trainers forget to take the psychology of learning, into consideration. I See What You Don’t See Take a look at the pictures below. What do you see?

The first picture can be interpreted as a portrait of a man or of a woman standing under a tree. The second picture can be interpreted as either a young woman with her face turned away from the artist or an old woman with her head drooping onto her chest – One picture but two different perceptions. Take a look at the picture below. What do you think is happening in the picture? What is the Gorilla thinking?

Chances are that if 50 people were asked what the gorilla was thinking, there would be 50 different interpretations. Here is one such interpretation:

In the same way, in any learning experience, learners will bring in their own interpretation, and will give their own meaning to a course because they rely on their own mind. This one important principle governs all types of learning. The principle – A learner brings in his own individual context to the learning experience. Mr. X did not base his ‘best course ever’ on this principle; instead, he tried to force upon his learners what was important to him and what he understood from the material that was presented to the learners. I See What I Want To See While creating an eLearning course, no matter how short a course it is, it is important for the designer to keep the learner’s viewpoint and concerns in mind. Our perceptions of events/situations vary. These perceptions depend on past experiences, education, cultural values and role requirements. Learners also decide what they want to learn and what they want to see. Take a look at the image below:

Did you notice that the articles are repeated twice in the three triangles? For those who are familiar with the expressions ‘Paris in the spring,’ ‘once in a lifetime,’ and ‘bird in the hand,’ the fact that the articles (‘the’,’ a’, and ‘the’) are repeated, is missed. This is true with the busy learner as well: The busy learner decides what he wants to learn and sees only what he wants to see. And therefore, very often misses out on even the most obvious – if the obvious is not on his agenda of what he is looking to see. Mr. X ignored this principle. His ‘best course ever’ had rules that the learners had to follow. They had to read all of the several thousands of words presented to them in the course; the learners had to cover all the topics whether they were of relevance or not; and the course did not make sense if certain topics were skipped. The Short, Short Term Memory The third point that is worthy of note is that: The human mind has a very short, short term memory – 7 seconds to be precise. In other words, we can only hold something in our mind for 7 seconds. Since we learn by a few seconds at a time, any relevant information should be presented in short, bite-sized bits of information. Needless to say – Mr. X’s ‘best course ever’ was long, boring and monotonous; leaving learners lost, confused and disinterested.

Summary:

  • Learning is an individual experience
  • Every learner interprets a course in a different manner
  • Learner’s see only what they want to see
  • Learners can only relate to short, crisp, bite-sized bits of information

Successful eLearning courses must be created while keeping the psychology of learning in mind. Most organizations have subject matter experts (SMEs) who can provide course material that must be incorporated into each course; but this expertise ends here. Organizations don’t possess the necessary expertise required to structure and design a course in a manner that will consider individual learning needs and the best way to present a course that will lead to successful learning and retention. This job is best left to a dependable company that specializes in creating courses that take care of an organization’s individual requirements. Reach out to a custom content solution provider that has the capability of addressing your employees’ individual requirements while meeting your business training objectives; this will ensure your organizational training is a success. 24×7 Learning’s Custom Content Development team follows a detailed approach when creating courses for an organization. The organization first evaluates the needs of the organization. After a detailed needs, audience and task analysis and assessment of the existing training system, the learning objective is determined and the course is designed using sound instructional design strategies. The course is layered as primary (need to know) information and secondary (nice to know) information; learning material is also divided and sequenced into logical chunks of information, bearing in mind the cognitive load of learners. The courses are designed keeping various learning styles in mind thereby catering to individual needs.

Mr. X is a designer in a well-known custom content development firm, who has a very important task at hand: To create a...

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Online Training: A Competitive Edge For The Pharmaceutical Industry

Online Training for Pharma

The focused business environment of the Pharmaceutical Industry continually shows signs of change. Organizations are forced to manufacture new products in this ever-changing environment. New organizations, affiliations and activities are ceaselessly being conceived. A competitive organization must think of innovative ways to train its workforce to ensure its employees are competitive, aggressive and keen to take the organization forward. The right training can make all the difference. Online training’s competitive edge over classroom training can’t be ignored by the Pharmaceutical Industry, here’s why:

A Uniform, Global Reach
Classroom training is not only an expensive affair but with different trainers training different regions, there is a wide disparity in what is taught, how it is taught and the message that is passed on to the learner. Online training delivers employee development programs to a global audience while keeping in mind the business norms, customs and local languages of each region.

Blended Learning
A blended learning approach that combines instructor-led training with online programs creates a very significant long-term impact. A 2011 European survey shows that 76% of companies who used online training viewed blended learning as the most popular approach to training while over 40% of these companies intensified their use of this approach the following year. Last year, 29.1% of training hours were delivered with blended learning methods – a 0.8% increase from the previous year. Blended learning reduces the dependency on trainers and agencies, giving organizations more control over their training programs.

Customized Courses
Pharmaceutical organizations can customize their employee development programs before pushing out these programs via an online learning platform. Integrating individual development needs with long-term, system-wide pharmaceutical practices is a critical piece of organizational development. A customized program allows an employee this luxury as well as helps him develop leadership strategies, competencies and a culture that is needed to meet a Pharmaceutical company’s specific challenges while keeping the organization’s business realities in mind.

Business Simulations and Experiential Learning
Online training paves way for business simulations and experiential learning that work well across different learning styles and geographical and cultural boundaries. Experiential learning allows a trainee to step out of his everyday role and gain exposure to his positional role by giving him a chance to make decisions in a risk-free environment, execute the best practices used by the Pharmaceutical Industry and experience critical interdependencies. More Pharmaceutical companies are using business simulations to help learners build strategic alignment and execution capabilities when faced with complex challenges and change that is a part and parcel of this industry.

Conclusion
The right training will promote exemplary performance-driven results through innovation. Today, the Pharmaceutical Industry is in dire need of training that combines creativity, innovation and skilling of employees and leaders to meet tough global standards. Pharmaceutical companies that make use of online training’s competitive edge will always have a workforce that is not only ready face today, but to take on tomorrow’s challenges as well.

The focused business environment of the Pharmaceutical Industry continually shows signs of change. Organizations are for...

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The Retail Industry – Dealing with Mayhem behind the Scenes

Retail Industry – Dealing with Mayhem

Picture this: A plush retail outlet – well stocked and clean; friendly staff; soft, soothing music playing in the background; happy customers who walk down well-organized aisles; beaming cashiers who expertly handle transactions – an outlet that runs like a well-oiled machine. If you belong to the retail industry you would know that what happens behind this scene is actually a nightmare. The Retail industry’s success is dependent on customer satisfaction – providing the customer with what he wants, when he wants it – at a price he is happy with. A few decades ago if you could do this, you were considered successful. Today the same maxim holds true, however, it takes a lot more effort to pull that off. What’s happening ‘behind the scene’ are layoffs, churn, rigorous training, store operation nitty-gritty, inventory controlling and various other business processes. It’s mayhem. When we talk about e-Learning – we talk about the benefits that employees and employers can glean from it. For the retail industry, it’s not just about the benefits that employers and the employees can glean from it – but the success of the entire industry.

Who can benefit from e-Learning in the Retail Industry?

  • Customer-facing staff
  • Managers
  • Back-end staff
  • All other employees and customers who are directly/indirectly related to the retail industry

Where can e-Learning help the Retail Industry?

  • Deliver quick, seamless, interesting training
  • Reduce churn (attrition)
  • Maximize revenue
  • Reduce retail shrinkage
  • Reduce training time
  • Increase product knowledge
  • Learn about merchandising
  • Minimize risks and increase safety measures

How does e-Learning works for the Retail Industry?

  • e-learning helps align learning with business goals
  • Streamlined e-Learning saves retail organizations time
  • For multiple retail outlets, e-Learning delivers uniformity in training across geographies with the ability to make the necessary customizations for specific geographies
  • With the option of learning any time and anywhere through e-Learning – employees’ productivity is not hampered and does not decrease the time spent on the shop floor
  • Dependency on trainers is reduced – thereby reducing costs related to hiring, travel, training space and other paraphernalia
  • e-Learning increases product knowledge of customer-facing sales force – of items being sold and related items as well. It can also be used for instantly retrieving knowledge of a product and its availability at the time of need – to serve customers better
  • Upskilling of sales staff through interactive and highly-engaging courses – to open and close a sale successfully and related follow-up procedures – will ensure customer satisfaction and brand loyalty
  • Delivery of simulation-based courses on the education of in-store operations and related processes leads to the seamless functioning of the back office staff
  • Safety training through on-line learning allows employees to recognize and respond to hazardous situations, minimize risks, and learn about disaster management and evacuation procedures – in a safe environment

Orderly, highly-engaging and streamlined training that is only possible through e-Learning will automatically increase the efficiency of retail staff, allowing them to perform to their optimum best in this highly-competitive industry. It does not have to be total chaos and mayhem behind the scenes – in the end it all comes down to the type of training delivered.

Picture this: A plush retail outlet – well stocked and clean; friendly staff; soft, soothing music playing in the backgr...

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Don’t Choose – Just Sit on the Fence

Just Sit on the Fence

Organizations are faced with a new dilemma – classroom training or eLearning? Or is there something between?

eLearning: Statistics from the 2014 Training Industry Report state that as of 2014 – 77% of US companies used online training and that a further 44% of those who were using classroom training planned to migrate to eLearning [1]; The global eLearning market is steadily on the rise and analysts forecast the e-Learning market in the US will grow at a CAGR of 5.53 percent over the period 2013-2018 [2]. Where classroom training fails, eLearning makes up by providing:

  • Learning on the go
  • Anytime learning
  • Social learning and knowledge collaboration
  • Cost- and time-saving benefits
  • Instant feedback and rewards
  • Individual tracking of progress online
  • Immediate Assessments

With all these benefits, can eLearning replace classroom training completely? – It probably could. Is it a good idea to completely replace classroom training with online training? – Probably not.

Classroom Training: Classroom training has its benefits. Since time immemorial, we as a race have linked learning to an instructor’s physical presence, step-by-step guidance and the psychological benefit of face-to-face interaction that lends a personal touch and a sense of assurance to the learner.

Learners have an opportunity to get first-hand information from subject matter experts on questions that extend beyond the course – thereby taking their learning one step further.

Employees get hands-on practical knowledge on the use of tools and machinery related to their job.

Most employees prefer the dedicated time set aside for classroom learning to haphazard eLearning that is believed to delve into their personal time.

But classroom training is time consuming, and in today’s fast-paced global circuit that is defined by change, new strategies, productivity and results, neither administrators nor employees have the time for it. Classroom training reduces the number of hours spent on the job and brings down productivity; and the non-availability of trainers and trainees in tandem leads to poor outcomes. Even the largest of today’s organizations lacks training space and requires the use of other resources such as writing material, monitors, projectors, etc., all of which come at no menial cost. With major disadvantages like these, should organizations give up classroom training and go the eLearning way?

Unfortunately, deciding on a training mode is not as simple as flipping a coin and taking a “heads-I-win, tail-you-lose” approach because there is a lot to win and a lot to lose – either way.

The Third Way: There is a third way – Blended Learning. I like to call it “sitting on the fence” because organizations can sit on the fence and enjoy the best of both worlds – have their cake and eat it too. It has been proved that a combination of classroom training and eLearning – a blend of the old and the new – is the perfect recipe for successful training. In 2014, 29.1% of training hours were delivered with blended learning methods- increased by 0.8 as compared to the previous year [1]. However, unlike the original idiom that denotes hesitancy and inability to decide one way or another, taking the “sitting on the fence” approach involves:

  • A fool-proof serious strategy that aligns an organization’s training with its business goals
  • Consideration of the needs/dynamics of the organization, administrators, trainers and learners

Here are just some of the ways that today’s organizations make use of the blended approach:

  • Decreased dependency on trainers for basic training programs by moving these online
  • Organizations with solidly established classroom-training programs add new online opportunities that will engage their learners virtually (hybrid courses). This multi-channel approach gives learners wider opportunities to engage in learning
  • Larger programs are moved online while short, one-day programs for smaller groups are conducted via classroom training, thereby saving costs
  • Employees make use of basic eLearning courses before a classroom training session. This reduces the number of face-to-face training hours and costs related to classroom training
  • Generic courses such as induction programs, compliance programs, and soft skill training are moved online while specialized courses remain face-to-face
  • Elearning is used to uniformly train a geographically-dispersed workforce online while personalized, shorter in-house training programs are conducted in individual locations
  • Data analytics supported by online learning is used to understand an employee’s online/offline learning styles and requirements to enhance learning and retentive abilities

When it is properly implemented, blended learning can bring the fun back into learning. For organizations it is a guaranteed way to increase productivity and ROI and decrease costs and provide employees with training that matters. So don’t choose – just sit on the fence and enjoy the best of both worlds.

References:
1. 2014 Training Industry Report: http://www.trainingmag.com/sites/default/files/magazines/2014_11/2014-Industry-Report.pdf

2. e-Learning Market in the US 2014-2018: http://www.researchandmarkets.com/publication/mqct3tu/elearning_market_in_the_us_20142018

Organizations are faced with a new dilemma – classroom training or eLearning? Or is there something between? eLearning:...

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