What’s Different About Training for Software Applications?

The custom development of training for software applications requires a specialized approach.

Such training can be delivered as an e-learning solution, as instructor-led, in a virtual classroom, or via some blend of all these approaches. A blended approach often works best, and many clients choose this route.

Instructor-led

If instructor-led is the alternative you think is best based on the number and distribution of the participants and other decision factors, we will design and create the course materials, including the presentation, instructor guide and the participant guide, based on the individual software application and the ultimate work product/activity needed. Envision will also provide an instructor as needed to teach the software application or provide a “Train the Trainer” session to enable your current training staff to deliver the materials.

E-learning

If e-learning is the way you choose, the possibilities get very interesting. Envision will create online modules and job aids to train the participants on the software application. There are a few ways to go about it, based on the importance of the software to the organization, its complexity, and your willingness to invest in interactivity.

Consider the following increasing levels of interactivity as the basis for the e-learning development:

  • The course would utilize explanatory text, application screenshots and field definitions, much like an online manual.
  • The course is an automated presentation, showing a run-through of how the application works.
  • The course presents automated simulations of the use of the application, showing actual screen captures of mouse movement and the steps needed to complete activities.
  • The course does all of the above and also allows the participant to actually practice using the application in simulation mode by being guided through the clicks and activities necessary to learn the software.

Webinar

When considering training for software applications, a virtual classroom approach is often the best way to go because it provides the best of both worlds. It allows you to exploit the full potential of the interactivity enabled by e-learning while gaining the benefits of having the learning session led by an instructor. A virtual instructor provides presence and a guide through the material and gives the participants someone with whom to interact, both during the presentation and after. We have found that phone call symposiums after a virtual classroom session provide a great way to follow up, so participants can ask questions and apply the knowledge they have gained to their particular situations.

And of course, if you really want a blended solution, nothing stops you from running a true instructor-led class with all the participants in the same room going through the same e-learning course at the same time. The combinations are endless and we are happy to work with you to find the right blend of technologies to get the job done within your allotted budget.

Making E-learning Successful

When a really good instructor gives a live class, the presentation is compelling and the participants are engaged by the teacher’s presence; they are caught up in the momentum of the class. If that same class was delivered via e-learning, all of the presence and engagement and motivation that the teacher brings is lost. So the first challenge for an e-learning course is to explicitly construct the material so that it is compelling and challenging in and of itself.

A simple restatement of the instructor-given material in an online format will inevitably be insufficient. Therefore, for the online version to be successful, the training must be consciously structured to engage.

Motivation

Learning is a very personal act. If the reason for the learning activity is clear, if the material is relevant and engaging, if interesting interactions keep the participant focused, and if the participant sees the experience as a means to gain a positive outcome, then the participant will be motivated – the gold standard for e-learning. Participants who are motivated have energy to pay attention, analyze, create meaningful associations, synthesize, remember what they learned, and apply it to their jobs. To create really successful e-learning, motivation must be consciously and explicitly built in; it is as important and sometimes more important than the presentation of the content itself.

Control

The second problem is a simple logistical one. Once participants are in a live class, most likely they are not simply going to get up and leave! Yet when classes are taken online, participants are self-directed and can do anything they want. The challenge therefore is to explicitly construct the class so that participants are consciously placed in control of their own learning experiences and inspired to complete the entire class.

Since e-learning is self-directed, it should be designed to let participants get a feel for the material up front. This is actually part of the instructional power of the course: making explicit what will be learned, what the activities will be, how much time it will take, how hard it will be, and what is expected of them. As though paging through a book, participants should be able to browse the course structure and support materials to get the picture of what’s coming and determine a personal strategy for absorbing it.

E-learning is appropriate for a wide range of training solutions, from simple operational learning to complex problem solving, and has many cost benefits. But to truly make it shine, it must be consciously structured both to engage and to put the learner in control.