It may be hard for younger business people to imagine a world without employee training software to make everything much easier. These new, bright-eyed people of the next generation grew up bearing witness to the dawn of computers in homes and classrooms, and the idea of using this technology for learning is not at all alien to them.
But for most people my age, not fortunate enough to have adopted computers early on, this can be a bit of an impenetrable idea. Rather, it can seem like one.
Even for those who have adopted computing into their training regime, few actually implement it in the way that works best, because it’s just not that obvious. As a result, most of the problems of classical training remain present in most cases, only somewhat reduced in tedium by run of the mill employee training software.
In truth, a lot of companies use some level of software training alongside orientation videos, to educate and test new employees. This is common from fast food restaurants and retail, to more dangerous jobs like security, and even in office work as well. We’ve all experienced the student journey through this hell.
Well, are any of the problems gone? No. It still requires you to sit either alone or in a group, in a classroom (or the walk in storage where they keep the buns), where you’re lectured and drilled on facts. It’s effective for repetitive work, sure. But that doesn’t make it appropriate.
All of the struggles of this old teaching model, be it in a formal environment or the hasty, slipshod model just described, preserve all the reasons people hate having to go through training.
The lack of engagement inherent to sitting through what’s basically fact programming utterly thwarts the purpose. Learning is about being engaged, challenged, and interested. It’s about acting on this impulse; seeing a problem, and solving it by deduction and information they obtain through active searching and contemplation. Lectures on facts followed by rigorous tests and judgmental letter grades are a really rough-handed way to do this.
On top of this, in modern business, the model has bigger problems, severely eating into man hours, and in inconvenient times to boot. With the classroom model requiring everyone to be away from their stations and in a classroom at a specific time, every other schedule dynamic in the business gets interfered with.
It’s a mess.
Modern Employee Training Software is a Different Story:
I mentioned a moment ago that the so called lack of adoption of computing in training was a misnomer, but I did also say that they were mostly doing it wrong, didn’t I?
Well, some people may be unaware, naturally, that modern training systems aren’t the same thing as the dinosaurs all these companies have been using. When you see headlines about breakthroughs in training technology pop up, don’t gloss over these anymore; they’re talking about something way cooler than you think.
So let me be the first to give you a taste of the sort of innovations they’re talking about. Remember all of those problems with engagement, drilling and lack of actual learning initiative?
Well, people have proposed all kinds of new learning models that would remove those shackles, but there’s never been practical ways to implement them in the past. Things like organizational learning, gamification, social self-direction and other models would be fantastic, if only they weren’t a nightmare to operate manually.
Well, modern training systems are designed to support those alternate model concepts. That’s right; it’s not about playing a lecture and running drill tests on old PCs in the manager’s office anymore!
Meet the LMS, or Learning Management System, a web-based SaaS concept. These systems come in all shapes and sizes, and most of them are open ended in one way or another, allowing you to completely shape them to suit brilliant new training models that were once impossible.
Systems like Moodle and Blackboard implement several automated, customizable constructs such as courses, projects, tests, and more. With easy to reconfigure auto-grading, you can completely leave the scholastic letter grade system behind, and adopt something with a little more pep for the self-esteem of students. With plugins to automate extra metrics, you can convert the grading to a point system for gamification, or an upward scale for social learning models. All of this can be done with a few clicks of a button, and are completely handled by the computer thereafter.
Along with integration over social networks, as well as Wiki and resource indexes, these systems also resolve that man hour problem mentioned earlier. With real time communication over established channels, students can train socially while also following the schedules that individually suit their lives the most.
Consider the implications of this for a moment. With these systems, the teacher can step back and be a helping hand, while the software automatically delivers courses and tests, tracks progress, and cleverly follows unique logic brought in for different learning models. All the while, everyone gets their jobs done, manages their personal lives, and still finds an hour or two a day to pick up their laptop or tablet, sit at their PC or pull out their mobile at dinner, to get their training done.
But Wait, there’s More:
Now, a few years back, that’d be the end of this discussion, aside from maybe a look to the potential future of training in light of these breakthroughs. But that’s not the case. There’s a whole other kind of employee training software that’s even more amazing.
While alternative learning models were being dreamed up by trainers, and teachers gone programmers were toiling away at what would become the LMS systems, another group of exceptionally cunning developers were doing something completely different.
A while back, they would have been considered quite mad, attempting this. The proof is in the pudding, though, and boy has WalkMe proven itself to countless businesses.
Let me tell you about this thing, because it’s something else. Rather than worrying about learning models or software to support training, these guys looked at another old fashioned training idea – hands on learning. Well, that’s just dandy, but how can that be implemented safely in business environments?
WalkMe is basically a type of macro, which can integrate into web forms. Macro doesn’t do it justice, but that aptly describes the idea. Now, once in the web interface, it can be set up to do many things.
A student sits at the system they’re going to learn to use. It’s not a mockup of the system, but the actual live system the business uses. One special difference is that WalkMe is running with it.
A student can then begin to try doing the tasks they’re told to do, with no prior knowledge. The moment they make a mistake or try to do something they shouldn’t at that time, WalkMe intervenes.
It can override what they did, and point out the part of the form they should be interacting with, and even say exactly what to do. It will prevent them from proceeding until they follow its instructions.
While it takes these students step by step through any process, no matter how complex, it also captures analytics. Trainers can then see, automatically, how many mistakes are being made by which students, what mistakes they are making, and so on.
This information helps track student progress, and helps to determine which parts of the process are the most universally difficult to learn, and note that special attention may be needed for those parts.
This sort of system sounds like it’d be a nuisance to set up, but it really isn’t. You don’t need any programming logic to use the point and click “scripting” for WalkMe. A good sense of logic, of course, always helps.
Implications of Employee Training Software:
With these two technologies married together, a new kind of training immerges. In this new model, students are first enrolled in a few basic social classes. In these classes they will get to know their fellow students (and where applicable, their new coworkers). They will be introduced to the basic new ways of thinking applicable to what they’re learning, and build a sense of teamwork in helping each other through this.
Over the social networks everyone uses, and an easy-to-use web system for accessing material and submitting work, they will speed easily through this training in the occasional slow time at work, or whenever. They will not be stressed by rigorous strains on their schedule, yet complete this part exceedingly faster nonetheless.
From here, they begin actually performing their new duties right away, with no prior experience here. But that’s ok, because WalkMe will be right there to take them through every process, easily, step by step. They will get their real work done while they learn how to do so. WalkMe will track progress, and tie in with the LMS to keep all of the training records in unison for ease.
Students are not bored by lengthy training where even the orientation part is pleasant thanks to LMS, and the rest of their training gets real work done, eliminating that man hour drain once and for all.
This is possible with employee training software right now, not in the far off future.