Education and training is a natural activity for humanity. However, the kind of knowledge imparted and the method used to impart it may differ depending on the needs of a human being or a group of individuals. Before education moved to the confines of a traditional classroom, training was imparted by way of experiential learning and lessons had ‘show me’ and ‘let me’ elements included in the training. Many of these were related to psychomotor domains like hunting, archery, rock climbing, and cooking too.
In Harry Potter movies, Severus Snape’s classroom has a combination of a very traditional teacher-pupil relationship (where Snape is in complete control of the student’s behavior) and an experiential way of learning (where students mix ingredients to create their potions.)
After being stuck in the groove with lecture-oriented classrooms for decades, the mode of imparting knowledge is shifting back to learning by action.
Technology has revolutionized the world in numerous ways—a prominent one being education. Today training is more commonly imparted online—eLearning is the trend that has advanced to mobile learning or mLearning.
An imperative question a learning expert asks these days is, “Which is the correct mode of training to promote an effective solution for a specific training requirement?” Bearing the same question in mind, let us discuss three modes of learning through:
- Classroom Training
- Mobile Learning or mLearning
When designing a training solution, the main consideration for instructional designers is to choose the appropriate mode of training. An in-depth training and organizational needs analysis goes a long way in taking the right decision.
A classroom training essentially entails a group of students, a facilitator/professor, and live labs with lab assistants for guided learning.
When faced with a situation to make a decision on whether to choose a classroom learning solution, consider the following criteria:
- the use of psychomotor skills
- soft-skills training where the trainer’s response is critical
- more hands-on activities
- group interaction to meet the objectives
- development and enhancement of team work
- live demonstration of skills along with real-time assessment of the skill
- strict time schedules with time constraints but no location and cost constraints
Often, a blended solution may provide a better option and can be used in the following ways:
- when training is chunked to enable part of the training to be delivered through a self-paced CBT or WBT and the remaining portion in a classroom with an instructor
- when training is taken in a classroom and CBT or WBT or videos are used as training aids during the training by the instructor
- a CBT or WBT is used as a precursor to classroom training for familiarization with subject matter
ELearning is the buzz word that has been around for a few years. Its importance is increasing as a larger number of training institutes, government and corporate sectors incorporate eLearning into their realms of training.
When recommending an eLearning solution for a training requirement, consider the following criteria:
- cater to various learning styles
- a blend of videos, simulations, animations, role-plays, and quizzes will add to the interactivity resulting in enhanced learning
- faster learning in half the time compared to traditional training is the main requirement
- cost of training is a major consideration
- size of the audience is huge and schedules for completion are tight
- the audience requires more flexibility in completing the course
- localization and geography are key elements of the decision
- change is the only constant and a quick update in one location has to be reflected simultaneously at all locations
- standardization is important
- learning effectiveness and ROI has to be monitored
- group interaction is not limited to a location and the use of blogs, wikis, message boards, and whiteboards will add positively for an effective solution
- a course is required to be saved and reused, eliminating trainer dependency
Mobile Learning or mLearning
As we advance in technology, the optimization of each tool becomes a norm. The latest device/tool to join this need for optimization are mobile phones. Mobile phones were already being used as music and video tools, cameras, computers to access the Internet and all social networking sites, banks for eCommerce, playing games, and now, as learning tools.
Since learning technology is evolving, learning via mobile devices is becoming common.
Situations and learning needs where an mLearning solution will be a good fit may be listed as follows:
- stimulating recall of prior learning by way of pre-work before ILT, eLearning, or even virtual ILT
- informing learners of the objectives and learning outcomes prior to the training for gaining attention
- summarizing the content of a learning topic/module soon after its completion
- reiterating learning by stimulating recall a few days or weeks after completion of training
- ensuring application of learning by way of assessments, pop-quizzes, and/or learning games
- continuation of learning through company blogs, wikis, and social networking is required
- sending podcasts for continued learning over mobile devices as a just-in-time solution
- communicating the salient features just before the next round of training to add value to the learning and keep the interest in training alive
- sending flashcards with regular updates instead of repeating the training every time there is an update
- providing learning on-the-move for travelling executives such as sales personnel with little time for even taking eLearning courses is of prime importance
Varied forms of training and a wide spectrum of learners is the norm today because training is not only limited to schools, universities, or professional institutes. Training is also a vital HR function in most organizations. However, with the increasing use of technology in learning as in other spheres, making a decision on the right tool and selecting the correct instructional approach to meet with the training needs, analysis has become a major challenge, requiring the expertise of professionals.
Knowing your available options and analyzing suitable solutions for a learning need will help in creating or delivering cost-effective, goal-oriented and skill-enhancing courses.