Training Industry Quarterly - Spring 2013 - (Page 13)
people @ worK | cLaire raines
we must enGaGe our
learners in their
how to desiGn enGaGinG traininG proGrams
ou’ve heard the term. We talk about engaging the public in
the political process, engaging the community in conversations about critical issues, engaging employees in their work.
To be successful in designing and implementing organizational
training programs, we must engage our learners in their learning.
As children, today’s organizational learners were shaped by constantly evolving trends in teaching methodologies. The role of the
learner went from passive to active. Little Baby Boomers attended
school in classrooms where children sat in straight rows, their seats
arranged alphabetically. The focus was on the teacher, who lectured
from the front of the room, teaching skills that children were expected to mimic and delivering information they were expected to
memorize. Younger generations participated more actively in their
early education. Gen Xers went to school in “open” classrooms
where there were no clear boundaries between one and the next. A
more laissez-faire attitude permeated everything, and independent
study was all the rage. Children were free to choose the subjects they
wanted to study and then to pursue them in individual — sometimes unorthodox — ways. During Millennials’ childhood, the focus
had clearly shifted away from the teacher and onto teams of learners.
Groups of students collaborated to develop skills and gather information to complete projects together. As soon as their projects were
completed, kids were praised and rewarded.
Today, we understand that learning — among adults as well as
children — happens in correlation to the level of learner engagement. The amount of skills and information acquired is directly
proportional to the learner’s active involvement with the material.
Engaged learners are those who participate in the learning process. They internalize and incorporate skills and knowledge. Bottom line: They do something with the material rather than simply
The late UCLA professor C. Robert Pace conducted groundbreaking work in the field of student engagement by studying the
impact of university environments on students. His assertion is that
the more learners are meaningfully involved in academic tasks, the
more they learn.
One of the best examples of learner engagement in action is selfdirected, on-the-job, just-in-time learning. It happens every day. A
worker realizes she doesn’t know something she needs to know —
or that she needs a specific skill she doesn’t have. She seeks out a
more knowledgeable co-worker or, more commonly, searches the
Internet for information on her topic. She scans articles and watches
videos, evaluating the fit of the information to her specific requirements. Eventually, she chooses the article or video that comes closest
to meeting her needs. If she’s lucky, she finds something that breaks
down the needed skill into discrete steps. She makes notes. Then she
tries it. Maybe she forgets a step and has to go back and review. She
decides to drop, add, or modify steps to save time or improve the
end result. She tries again and succeeds, applying her new skill or
knowledge where it’s needed. Then she proceeds with her day, a bit
more skillful and enlightened.
This everyday example illustrates learner engagement at its best.
It demonstrates self-assessment, motivation, choice of learning
strategy, goal-setting, customization, practice, application, feedback,
integration, reinforcement, and reflection. As instructional designers, the more closely we can replicate this everyday learning experience, the more successful we will be at designing and delivering
more engaging training programs.
To get organizational learners engaged:
• Involve them in the design process. Talk with potential trainees
on a personal level about their goals, needs and preferences.
• Offer plenty of subject matter choices. The more involved people
are in choosing what to learn, the more engaged they will be.
• Offer choices in delivery. The more platforms the better. When
trainees can choose the delivery method that matches their personal preferences, they’re far more likely to succeed.
• Personalize the learning. Each trainee brings a unique set of characteristics. To expect each to learn in the same way and at the same
rate is unreasonable.
• Make your design at least 80 percent participative. An engaging
module is comprised of less than 20 percent passive knowledge
transfer. At least 80 percent of the learner’s time needs to be spent
in active participation: goal-setting, discussion, problem analysis,
games, analysis of real-life situations, role play, reporting, case
study, writing, and reflection.
Claire Raines is a speaker, consultant, and co-author of Generations at Work and eight other diversity books. Visit generationsatwork.com or email Claire.
Training Industry Quarterly, Spring 2013 / A Training Industry, Inc. magazine / www.trainingindustry.com/TIQ
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Training Industry Quarterly - Spring 2013
Training Industry Quarterly - Spring 2013
From Where I Sit: Back to the Basics
Table of Contents
Guest Editor: A Brave New World
Extracting Learning From Work
Poor Behavior: Your Brain is Partly to Blame
How to Design Engaging Training Programs
The Missing Link in Learning
Don't Let Training Be Half-Baked
What the Latest Brain Research Tells Us about Designing Learning that Sticks
Motivation: The Key to Learning Transfer
Improving Learning Outcomes with a Bite-Sized Strategy
Adult Development: Predicting Learning Success
From One Brain to Another: What We've Learned about Learning
Formalizing Informal Learning
Training Industry Quarterly - Spring 2013