Are Your Online Training Courses Ready For Action? They Should Be!

Are Your Online Training Courses Ready For Action? They Should Be!

Most online training developers being developing their content in PowerPoint using slides that present text, images, audio, video, and animations. While this may be a great way to speed up development time, it usually just doesn’t work that successfully.

Developing online training quickly in PowerPoint may be a good way to “tell” information to course participants. However, it’s not that effective in course completion or knowledge retention. Studies have shown that it’s 30% more efficient to “show” information — and that doesn’t mean to just present it with more flash and pizazz — but to get the learner involved “by doing”.

Course development efficiency does not equate properly trained learners. One possible solution to this is though Action Learning.

What is an Action Learning Scenario?

Action LearningAction learning is a process developed by Reg Revans, professor at the University of Manchester and management thinker. He developed Action Learning knowing that learners succeed better through repeating relatable actions and practice. In terms of online training, this is done via scenarios. His premise was that “there can be no learning without action and no (sober and deliberate) action without learning.”

Action learning allow participants to acquire knowledge via “hands-on” excercises rather than traditional instructor-led training. Action Learning Scenarios allow the learning object (piece of knowledge that you want to teach) to solve a real organizational problem.

A relatable action scenario takes the learner into the scene, gets them involved, and encourages them to take an action where the result is open. By dropping learners into the scenario and having them “act” upon it, they’ll learn more quickly and remember what you’re teaching as they are engaged and entertained throughout the scenario.

Here are the main tenets to Action Learning Scenarios presented via an online training course:

  1. Relate To An Actual Problem

    Action learning scenarios should review a relatable business or personal problem, challenge, or task that a learner would have to deal with during their business life.

    For example, in this role-playing scenario, your job is to assign an appropriate task to an employee based on their background and skills. If the task is accomplished correctly, you reward the employee appropriately.

  2. Important To The Learner’s Work

    Scenarios should be significant to a learner’s work — not just a small issue but something that requires them to face difficult choices in their job area. By raising the stakes the learner is more invested to ensure success.

    For example: don’t choose a scenario where the learner must only identify one correct fire hazard in a building, but involve it so that there are multiple hazards and people they must identify, resolve, and secure safely before passing the challenge.

  3. Group Activities Facilitate Learning

    Online Training - Action Learning ScenarioA scenario is more successful when the learner interacts with multiple individuals as most business decisions deal with other individuals. From a learner perspective, this results in greater consequences as they must deal with multiple stakeholders.

    Asking questions to multiple characters in an action online training scenario helps the learner relate to all the different personalities that could occur in a workplace and increases the stakes of asking the wrong questions to the wrong person. See our online role-play course demo to see how this is done.

  4. Can Be Accomplished By A Single Person

    An online training scenario can be one that the learner must face on their own without interaction from other characters. This is a less involved action learning scenario, but it shouldn’t be solved too quickly so that it’s still challenging.

    Most jobs involve dealing with others, but if there is an important task they need to review alone (like how to find rescue after surviving a plane crash), it’s good to get the learner to repeat a task until it becomes second nature.

  5. At The Centre Of The Action

    Immersing the learner in an action online training scenario puts them in the center of the learning, motivates them to ask the right questions and find the right answers. Interfaces can included branched scenarios, menu-driven options, and virtual worlds.

    Immersive learning offers a great alternative to face-to-face classrooms, where a user can learn from analyzing a bank loan and the menu elements involved to get proper approval, to automotive troubleshooting where you focus on the process needed to diagnose issues as well as solutions, to a sales role play, where you can coordinate open-ended learning opportunities to make the customer sale.

A visual representation allows the mind of the learner to fill in the details based on personal experience.

The Action Learning Scenario Process

Online Training - Action Learning ScenariosBegin creating your action learning scenario by asking a series of questions that the learner must face before they can identify the scenario problem, challenge, or task – the “WHAT” part of the process. Once you have the questions decided, then the action learning scenario process should focus on the different tangents that the learner may go down to complete the task, also known as the “HOW” part of the process. Finally, the learner should reflect on why they chose those specific courses of action to accomplish the goal, so that they learn the “WHY” they succeeded or failed.

Action learning elearning scenarios involves graphical aspects that helps the learner relate better to the task presented before them. This makes the challenge seem more real when they can imagine themselves doing the task live, even if it’s from the safe confines of their computer. While action learning was originally created by Revans for teams to partake live, it can simulate the a real-world activity by immersing learners in an online scenario,.

For example, the military often uses online wargaming scenarios that put a soldier into a combat-environment so that they can safely get accustomed to an issue they may face in live training. It prepares them for the steps of problem analysis, team building, challenge, and focus they’ll need to get the job done. They are often coached on the wargame afterwards so that they can learn before attempting the training in a more dangerous environment.

According to Albert “Skip” Rizzo, a University of Southern California psychologist, online training scenarios succeed because “ want to teach people this stuff when they’re in a state of arousal so that they’re more likely to access that learning when they’re in a similar state to real life.” Striking a balance between the time needed to create the course the realism required to immerse a user in a simulation, takes a little more work.

Action learning is a perfect fit when developing online training and will be part of the direction that online training is headed. To find out where else the online training industry is headed, download our free ebook Navigating The Training Industry In 2013. If you want to try some of our amazing course demos to see how we’ve implemented the concepts of Action Learning.

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