Evidence-Based Training: Learning Maximizers & Learning Myths (An Interview with Dr. Will Thalheimer)

In this article, the continuation of our series of interviews with noted learning researcher Dr. Will Thalheimer, we’re going to discuss evidence-based training methods and learning myths with no supporting evidence.

The focus on evidence-based training methods is central to Dr. Thalheimer’s career and work, and it’s been the central focus of our earlier articles with him, which looked at smile sheets, spaced learning, and elearning effectiveness.

In this article, you’ll read about three three models for applying evidence-based training, about some learning methods that many think are proven and effective despite a lack of evidence supporting that, and about the importance of fighting the good fight to identify and use learning methods that truly support the learner.

And since this is the final article in the four-article series, we’d like to issue a big thank you to Dr. Thalheimer for his time and knowledge, both of which have been greatly appreciated. Don’t forget to check out his new model for learning evaluation, which he finished while we were writing this series. Maybe he’ll be nice enough to come back and discuss that with us in the future.

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Evidence-Based Training: Is eLearning More or Less Effective than Classroom Training? (An Interview with Dr. Will Thalheimer)

Question for you: what’s more effective in aiding employee learning–elearning courses or classroom training?

We asked the noted learning expert Dr. Will Thalheimer to answer that question. And presenting information from his Does eLearning Work? white paper and metastudy, the simple answer he gave was: classroom training < elearning < blended learning solutions.

(If it’s been a while since you last attended math class, that means classroom training is less effective than elearning, which is in turn less effective than blended learning solutions that use both classroom training and elearning.)

But….there’s much more to the answer than that. And in fact, that simple presentation of the answer isn’t just incomplete, it’s misleading.

So we encourage you to read this interview with Dr. Thalheimer to learn more about the effectiveness of elearning and classroom training, and to learn more about how to make both more effective.

If you’ve been reading along lately, you know we’ve also published interviews with Dr. Thalheimer on the topics of smile sheets and spaced learning.

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Evidence-Based Training Methods and Spaced Learning (An Interview with Dr. Will Thalheimer)

In this article, we’re going to continue our ongoing series of interviews with Dr. Will Thalheimer, and we’ll be getting some tips for using spaced learning to better support learner memory in workforce learning & development efforts. For those of you keeping track at home, you may know that in an earlier article, Dr. Thalheimer gave us some best practices for writing level 1 “smile sheets,” and we’ll continue the focus on evidence-based training methods in this interview with the good doctor.

For those who aren’t familiar with spaced learning, which is also known as spaced practice, the idea is to have the learner re-engage with the learner material at different moments over time. There’s a lot of evidence that shows this really reduces the human tendency to forget job training very quickly, meaning workers will be more likely to remember the training and later apply it on the job to create the desired behavior the training was intended to create.

If you’re not familiar with Dr. Will Thalheimer, he’s a well-known and very credible research- and evidence-based learning professional who runs the Will at Work blog and generally shares useful information for learning professionals. Many, many thanks to Dr. Thalheimer for participating in this interview, the earlier interview, on smile sheets, and two more to be published soon.

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ANSI/ASSE Z490.2 Update: A Key Definition

A little-known poet once asked “what’s in a name?”

It’s not often that you get to refer to William Shakespeare and Romeo and Juliet when writing about safety training, but events at the most recent meeting of the committee to create ANSI/ASSE Z490.2 as a complement to the existing Z490.1 standard, gave me an opportunity to do just that. (Those events plus the tireless efforts my junior high English teacher, that is.)

But why, you might ask? Because we spent a good deal of time talking about the definition of “online safety training,” which is especially relevant since that’s what the standard is about.

Defining Online Safety Training

Over time, in discussions about the standard and in various drafts of the standard, we’ve been using terms like virtual training, distance training, elearning, online training, and more. And we’ve discussed the amazing variety of types of training this includes–streaming online videos; HTML web pages; elearning courses in SCORM, AICC, and/or xAPI formats; augmented reality viewed through smart glasses; virtual reality; simulations; and more.

So this notion of “what is online safety training” really isn’t as simple as it first appears. Although, perhaps it smells just as sweet by any name.

What are your opinions?

Stay tuned for more about Z490.2 in our next update.

Online Safety Training Buyer's Guide Checklist

Online Safety Training Buyer’s Guide Checklist

Learn how to evaluate the different online safety training solutions that exist to find one that best fits your company’s needs with our FREE informative guide and checklist.

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Online Safety Training Buyer's Guide Checklist

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Lifelong Learning & Learning to Learn (Arun Pradhan on Learning and the Jobs of the Future)

lifelong learning and learning to learn image

We’re pretty excited because Arun Pradhan, a self-described “learning geek,” a senior learning and performance consultant at DeakinCo., the winner of the Australian Institute of Training and Development’s 2017 L&D Professional of the Year Award, and the creator of the amazing Learn2Learn app has agreed to speak with us about the importance of learning ability in the workplace, being a learning organization, and in particular how employees can learn to learn and become lifelong learners.

If you’re reading this article, you probably already know the importance of learning at work and have a sense that it will become increasingly important in the future. Maybe you’re a manager who wants to learn to improve at your own job while also seeing how you can facilitate employee learning at the same time. Or maybe you’re an employee who knows the value of learning to improve your career opportunities.

Either way, we think you’ll benefit from and enjoy Arun’s insights, and we want to thank him very much for participating in this interview and for all the works he does in workforce L&D.

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Evidence-Based Training Methods and Smile Sheets (An Interview with Dr. Will Thalheimer)

It’s always a good idea to use training methods that are (1) based in evidence and proven to be effective and (2) focused on improving performance on the job.

Dr. Will Thalheimer is one of the leading research experts on evidence-based and performance-focused training methods, and he’s been kind enough to grant us an interview that we’ll present as a series of four related articles.

In this article, our interview with Dr. Thalheimer will focus on smile sheets.

You may already know the term smile sheet, but if you don’t, you’re probably familiar with the concept. You know those surveys trainers hand out to learners who have just completed some form of training? And the learner then uses the survey to evaluate the training event, materials, and instructor? That’s a smile sheet, also known as a training evaluation sheet, reaction sheet, or a Kirkpatrick level 1 evaluation.

These learner evaluations are sometimes called smile sheets, however, because there’s a belief that the learners may not use them to put down truthful, objective, helpful information, but instead just write nice comments about the training and the instructor that are meant to make the trainer smile about supposedly having done a good job.

So you see the problem. If a smile sheet is nothing but a bunch of well-intended but fake or meaningless “smiles,” we’re not drawing helpful information from learners about the training material that we can use to evaluate the training and revise it if necessary so our training has a desired influence on worker job performance. And that’s why Dr. Thalheimer has done research on smile sheets, first to determine that as commonly written they’re often meaningless and second to give us tips on how to write better smile sheets that will help improve performance.

If all this is ringing a bell for you, you may be familiar with Dr. Thalheimer’s great book Performance-Focused Smile Sheets: A Radical Rethinking of a Dangerous Art Form or with the earlier article we wrote exploring his book on how to write better smile sheets.

So let’s check out the interview. Remember this is one part of a longer interview with Dr. Thalheimer, and we’ll have additional articles in which he discusses:

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9 Great Uses for Mobile Training at Work

Mobile Training Image

Organizations are becoming increasingly interested in mobile training these days (also called mobile learning and M-learning).

Which is great, because you can use mobile training in a lot of positive ways. But on the other hand, you don’t want to just rush into it, believing that this new technology is the silver bullet that will make training magical in the same way that people made the same claims about radio, TV, movies, filmstrips, video tapes, DVDs, the Internet, and more.

So in this article, we’re going to list out for you some productive ways to use mobile training at work. Please add any additional ones from your experience as well.

You might also want to check out our mobile training apps or our 3 Fundamental Uses for Mobile Safety Training article.

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Tips for Beating the Training Forgetting Curve

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In a recent article, we introduced you to the well-documented forgetting curve in training and explained that something called spaced practice can help reduce or even eliminate the forgetting curve.

In this article, we’re going to give you a few more tips for how to design training that combats the forgetting curve and creates memorable training that employees will not only understand during the training, but that they’ll also remember after the training and put to use on the job.

Sounds like good stuff to know, no?

Let’s get started, then.

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What is eLearning? How Can I Use It?

eLearning allows you to access training material online rather than in a traditional classroom setting. This makes eLearning more convenient because you can complete the courses when you desire, on your schedule.

While eLearning courses can have videos embedded in them, eLearning  is much more interactive than simply watching a video. eLearning presents material in a multimedia format, so you are more likely to remember it. Some of the tactics used to present material include practice questions, feedback to answers, and scored tests.

eLearning allows your employees to learn more about topics relating to their careers. Completing eLearning courses ensures that your employees are well informed so they can be more efficient, productive, and safer at work.

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Online Occupational Health and Safety Training Courses

online occupational health and safety training courses image

Convergence Training’s online occupational health and safety training courses teach new employees important knowledge and skills while providing experienced employees a way to refresh their understanding of knowledge and skills they’re familiar with (see our article on the importance of “spaced practice” for more about the value of this).

There are some clear advantages of online training. One is that the employee can learn at his or her own pace. Another is that the employee can access the online training anywhere at work anywhere by using a mobile device.

Convergence Training provides a large number of online safety courses on many different topics. This article describes some of the courses involving driver safety, first aid, equipment safety, and general safety. However, to see the full list and course descriptions, check Convergence Training’s online occupational health and safety training courses.

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How to Use Spaced Practice to Support Memory in Job Training

spaced practice image

The human brain is amazing. And so are the human abilities to learn new information and skills, remember them, and later retrieve and use them when it’s needed.

But if you’re involved in training and/or learning and development, you also know it’s not all that easy. And one of the big problems is that people tend to forget much of what they learned in training.

We’ve addressed some of the reasons why this happens earlier in our articles Why Don’t People Remember Their Training? and How People Learn (or Don’t). In this article, we’re going to continue looking at issues related at this general theme of forgetting and how to better support memory after training.

In particular, we’re going to focus our attention more specifically on the learning curve, the forgetting curve, and spaced practice. We think this will make you see more value in refresher training, for one thing. But we’ll include tips for using spaced practice at points of the learning and development cycle beyond just refresher training, too.

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What is Visual Learning? Identifying and Understanding the Benefits of Visual Learning

Humans are visual creatures.

Going back a bit in time, vision was important to us on the African savanna to recognize predators and find food.

And although today most of us spend less time dodging leopards than our ancestors might have, it’s easy enough to see the importance of vision in our lives. How long do you go without watching a movie at the cinema, viewing a film on Netflix, or playing a video game? Or even consider music–don’t you often experience music in a music video, or while watching a stage full of dancers?

Why are so many of the dominant forms of entertainment visually oriented? Because, to return to our beginning, humans are visual creatures.

And so it makes a lot of sense to take advantage of that for workforce learning and development.

We’ll discuss this a bit in this blog post.

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