Some of us get rewarded for introducing the latest advances in technology learning into our organization. Some, who produce their own e-Learning courses, even enter their latest examples into national “best in learning” contests. And, some even win those prestigious awards.

However, you’ll be well served if you keep the following statement indelibly etched in your mind: “Don’t judge yourself by the awards you win. And, don’t judge yourself by the awards you don’t win.”

Instead, as a trainer, you must judge yourself by the future performances of your trainees! It’s not what you do that really matters. It’s what they are able to accomplish, after being introduced to your training initiatives. If they perform well on-the-job, you’ve done well. If they don’t, you haven’t. Simple as that — in spite of whatever awards you may win in the contests you enter.

In order to help you attain the only success that will ultimately matter, here are some things to think about when you design (buy or build) your training solutions.

The passive “lecture/reading” method of instruction — mistakenly — remains the norm for teaching far too many in our working-adult population — while continuing to ignore the fact that nearly 40% of our workforce does not well comprehend above a 4th Grade reading level.

Does that surprise you? It shouldn’t! There is a large trainer-population group out there that believes, “if it was good enough for me, it’s good enough for everybody.”

Change comes slowly. Better ways of doing things are delayed. But, eventually, the “better ways” are adopted — and, that is a very good thing.

Knowledge eventually trumps prejudice.

There are three reasons why organizations can’t help but fail when using the “lecture/reading” approach. First, workplace lectures have proven to be generally ineffective due to the listener’s inability to retain much more than a small amount of the instruction heard at a single sitting. Secondly, there is not enough time (and, dollars) available from a “right sized” work force to do live instruction in the “expose and practice” discrete-segment way. Thirdly, the complexity of the skills required to effectively function under today’s workplace requirements go far beyond what has been required of our non-reading population in the past.

So why not adopt the multi-sensory media technologies to address these new challenges? In that way we can keep the best of what has worked in the past — “expose and practice” in small discrete segments — while combining the unique power of video, audio, and hands-on practice — all of it “speaking” to our workforce in ways they can readily understand.

In the past, workers learned through one-on-one contact how to emulate the local plant “expert.” For example, if one wanted to know how to take a pump apart — they learned to do so not by reading about it, but by doing it under the expert’s supervision.

Full-motion, fully interactive media training can play that critical role today. For example, a student can simulate dial movement or pressure gauge readings in real time. And, whenever the printed word appears in the media courseware designs, an optional word-for-word audio button allows non-fluent readers to exercise that choice while the fluent readers can ignore it (the best answer for both groups).

Fully interactive, full-motion CD-ROM and e-Learning that incorporates full-motion video will be the answers for better training and for better retention (the only worthy goal for increased on-the-job performance). And the award that you, as a prospective “winning trainer,” should seek.

More on Thursday – – –

— Bill Walton, Founder, ITC Learning (Tuesdays & Thursdays)