Tips for Diversity Training at Work: What Works and What Doesn’t

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A lot of companies are rightly concerned about acquiring a more diverse workforce. I’d say that’s just the right thing to do from a societal perspective, but beyond that there’s a lot of research showing that diverse organizations are more innovative and generally perform better.

And likewise, a lot of organizations are working to create a more welcome, accepting, and inclusive environment for their workers. Makes sense, right? And that includes spending a lot of time creating, delivering, and consuming (as learners) well-intended diversity training activities and programs. Also makes sense, right?

The problem is that studies show a lot of this training is ineffective. Which isn’t so good.

But the Learning Guild, and Dr. Jane Bozarth, have come to the rescue with a meaty, 33-page, research-based report titled What Works–and What Doesn’t–in Diversity Training (download a copy for yourself here).

If you’re not familiar with the Learning Guild, their Research Library, or learning researcher Jane Bozarth, put them all on your list of things to learn more about, right there alongside “how to make my diversity training more effective.”

We encourage you to read the entire report, and we’ll summarize a few of the key findings for you below.

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Virtual Classrooms Today: A Report from an Expert

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You don’t need us to tell you that when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, work changed for a lot of us. And workplace training changed a lot because of COVID-19, too.

We’ve been writing about this recurrently over time as the COVID pandemic stretches on. We started with articles on quickly developing elearning courses and quickly creating live online learning, and then we summarized much of that with a webinar on getting training online quickly. After that, we discussed “live online learning,” including webinars and virtual classrooms, with expert Shannon Tipton. More recently we’ve been including some of the tips we’ve learned in our webinars on using online manufacturing training & online maintenance training (and we’ll be doing that again in a December webinar on online safety training).

In addition, we also talked with Dr. Stella Lee about how COVID-19 presented both a need and an opportunity for L&D to “up their game” to help people upskill and reskill for the pandemic economy, and recently we profiled 3 online learning tools and skills made more essential by COVID-19.

We’ve also been doing everything we can to learn more and sharpen our own skills, in particular skills for designing, developing & leading virtual classrooms. In doing so, we’ve identified Cindy Huggett as a leading expert in the field and have read two of her books, both of which we recommend to you: Virtual Training Basics and Virtual Training Tools and Templates. And we’ve been learning from the resources, blog articles, and other materials at her website as well.

All of which brings us to the fact that Cindy Huggett has recently conducted surveys and published the results (an her thoughts) in an article titled The State of Virtual Training 2020. We encourage you to check out the entire article (there’s also an infographic she created that you can download), but we’ll summarize some of the key points here.

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3 Online Learning Tools (and Skills) Made More Essential by COVID-19

Workplace learning has made increasing use of technology for not only years, but for decades now.

And then the COVID-19 pandemic came, making face-to-face, instructor-led training dangerous, potentially fatal, impractical, and less desirable and making various forms of online, remote, or technology-assisted training even more desirable.

We’ve done our best to keep writing about how to deliver training more effectively and safely as a result of COVID-19, We wrote an article about quickly transitioning to elearning and another on quickly taking up live online learning and followed those up with a webinar on the same topics. Then we had a recorded discussion with Shannon Tipton about live online learning, including the use of webinars and virtual classrooms. We’ve talked about it elsewhere, most notably in some webinars on online manufacturing training and online maintenance training. And we’ll be writing about it again in an article with some tips on virtual classrooms via guru Cindy Huggett.

In this article, we’re going to quickly introduce three online learning technologies to consider as your company continues to adapt your own training programs because of COVID. As always, let us know if you’ve got any questions!

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Online Industrial Training Tools & Tech to Know About

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Industrial companies and other organizations have been making increasingly common use of online training and different technologies associated with online training for some time now. And that long-term trend has only increased as a result of COVID-19.

So if you’re a manufacturing or industrial organization, and you’re looking to begin your online training journey or simply add to it, you may be asking yourself what some of the common technologies, tools, and product types are.

And that’s what we’re going to try to help you with now.

In addition to this article, please feel free to listen to our Effective Manufacturing Training that Works webinar and our Selecting Online Manufacturing Training webinar as well as download our Manufacturing Training guide and our Selecting & Using Online Manufacturing Training guide.

And of course, we’ve got a range of online manufacturing training courses, mobile training apps, and learning management systems for manufacturing organizations as well.

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How Lean Manufacturing is Part of the HPI Toolkit for Improving Performance at Work

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It can be easy to unnecessarily “silo” different sets of ideas and not immediately recognize that they’re related. We all probably do it at times, which is too bad, because we can often create better outcomes by making connections between those silos and creating a convergence of ideas.

One easy example of this is the not-necessarily-obvious connection between lean manufacturing and human performance improvement (HPI).

We’re going to explain that connection to you in the article below. It’s worth noting this idea certainly isn’t new, and it may seem blindingly obvious to some while perhaps others haven’t thought of it. The idea came to mind for me most recently during the pre-recorded chit-chat immediately before a recorded discussion I recently had with Guy Wallace describing the origins of HPI, so hat-tip to Guy for instigating this article.

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Using Mental Models in Learning & at Work: Talking with Arun Pradhan

Developing helpful mental models is critical for learning and performing effectively at work.

We decided to talk with learning strategist Arun Pradhan to learn more about it and to learn more about his new website, ModelThinkers.com.

The video’s immediately below–enjoy it. And we’ve provided links to some helpful resources below the video as well.

As always, thank to Arun.

Remember we’ve got links to more resources below.

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A Brief History of Human Performance Improvement (HPI): Talking with Guy Wallace

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Human Performance Improvement, or HPI, is a method of improving performance and outcomes at organizations that can include workplace training but considers  reasons for problems beyond just knowledge and skill gaps and interventions other than just training.

It’s also sometimes called Human Performance Technology, or HPT.

In this interview, HPI practitioner Guy Wallace gives us an overview of HPI/HPT, tells us about a few of the key ideas and originators (some of whom Guy worked with or new), gives us a few best practices, and talks about two HPI-related projects of his: a series of recorded video discussions with other HPI practitioners and a website collecting HPI resources for people to check out and learn from.

Check out the recorded discussion below and then check below the video for some links to things Guy and I talked about.

We’ve got resources for you below, plus a free downloadable Mager/Pipe Problem-Solving Flowchart, so check that all out.

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Supporting Behavior Change at Work: An Interview with Julie Dirksen

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Not so long ago, we had a discussion with Julie Dirksen about how to help people learn at work, with Julie mixing in stuff from her classic book Design for How People Learn along with additional helpful tips.

In that discussion, there were some times we talked about desired behavior changes and how some times, learning along won’t contribute to that behavior change. That’s usually because the “problem” isn’t an issue of a knowledge or skills gap, but other factors are driving the behavior or lack thereof.

This is something Julie covers in some detail in her book, and it’s also something she’s planning on covering in a lot more detail in an upcoming book (stay tuned for that one). But she was nice enough to join us and talk about it here, and in particular to talk about the COM-B behavior change model, which is also sometimes called the Behavior Change Wheel.

Check out the recorded discussion below, and then scroll down to see a series of related links and resources.

Of course, we appreciate everything Julie’s doing–the great books, the discussions, the sharing of information, etc.–and we thank her. Be sure to buy her Design for How People Learn book and keep an eye out for the upcoming book on supporting behavior change.

Links and resources below!

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How the COVID Pandemic Has Broadened The Skills Gap and Increased the Need for Skills Development Training (And What To Do About It)

Back in the years and even decades before the COVID-19 pandemic dominated much of what we talk and think about, employers and learning & development experts used to talk a lot about the skills gap and how to create and provide training to help employees develop those needed skills.

And to be honest, that skill gap didn’t go away with COVID, and in fact in several ways, COVID brought with it an ever greater need to help people develop new job skills.

We talked about this a little bit in a recorded discussion with learning professional Dr. Stella Lee, COVID-19 Presents Challenge to L&D to “Step Up,” not so long ago. Go check out that discussion, because as usual, Dr. Lee’s on point and provides some great tips about all this.

In this article, we’re going to list a few ways COVID-19 has made this skills gap issue more problematic and give you some tips for creating performance interventions and training solutions to help workers develop those skills quickly, efficiently, and reliably.

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LMS Basics: Can You Use an LMS to Track Safety Training Completions, Due Dates, Expirations, and Recurrent Safety Training?

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Many people are quite familiar with learning management systems (LMS), what they can do, and how you can use them at work. However, other people are still new to the idea of a learning management system, and they often ask us how they might be able to use an LMS at their workplace.

We have conversations like this with safety mangers and other people tasked with delivering, tracking, and reporting on safety and health training at their workplace, especially when it it comes to safety training that fulfills compliance requirements from organizations like OSHA or other regulators.

The short answer is that yes, many learning management systems can do that kind of stuff to help you out with your safety training. Of course, no LMS is exactly like another, and each has their own features. So some LMS may do everything a safety manager wants, whereas other LMS may miss out on a few of those safety/compliance-specific features because they focus on some other aspect of workplace learning and performance improvement.

The Convergence LMS was designed in close consultation with manufacturing and industrial clients, often including their safety managers. We designed our LMS with their needs in mind, and they’ve been battle-testing it out in the field, running our LMS through their EHS training compliance requirement challenges and letting us know when we needed tweaks or new features not just to hit that bottom floor of safety training compliance but improve overall safety at their organization while also making the LMS and safety training administration easier and easier. So, thanks to them for working with us on this for more than a decade, and lucky you for coming to us now looking for help with your safety training needs.

We’ll briefly explain a little more about how an LMS can help with your safety training needs and challenges below. And of course, we invite you to contact us with questions about using an LMS for safety training or anything having to do with safety training (we sell pretty cool 3D-animated online safety and health training courses, too, by the way).

If you’re really serious about getting some online safety training at your workplace, in addition to this article, you might find the two resources below very helpful:

Now let’s get on with our quick overview of using an LMS for these safety training assignment and tracking issues we just discussed.

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Blended Learning Basics: Using Asynchronous and Synchronous Training Activities

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Many studies have shown that blended learning experiences tend to lead to better instructional outcomes–more learning, more knowledge acquisition, more skill development, better transfer to the job, etc. For more on this, including some quotes, studies, and meta-studies about blended learning effectiveness from the US Department of Education, learning researcher Dr. Ruth Colvin Clark, and learning researcher Dr. Will Thalheimer, see our Guide to Blended Learning Strategies.

But of course, learning design professionals shouldn’t just blend willy-nilly. You should have a reason for choosing to select the different training delivery methods you use in each learning blend.

There are multiple different ways to think about how to choose the right training delivery methods for the right learning activities in your learning blend. One of them is to think of when the learners will benefit from an asynchronous learning experience and when they’ll benefit from a synchronous learning experience. (Quick note for those not used to the jargon: an “asynchronous” learning experience means the learner is completing the learning experience alone–think of something like reading a book or completing a self-paced elearning course–and a “synchronous” learning experience means the learner is completing the learning experience with an instructor and other learners–think of a traditional instructor-led classroom training session or a virtual classroom completed online).

To help give you some ideas of how to use asynchronous and synchronous learning activities in a learning blend, we checked out a great recent series of articles on blended learning and synchronous/asynchronous activities written by our good friend, the learning researcher Dr. Patti Shank. Dr. Shank wrote these five articles for eLearning Industry–you can find the first article on synchronous and asynchronous learning here and then continue to read the rest.

We’re going to give you some of the highlights on Dr. Shank’s five-article series on asynchronous and synchronous activities in blended learning programs in the article below, although of course we invite you to read all the articles.

And if you’re curious, check out some of our earlier collaborations with Dr. Shank on other important learning topics:

Now let’s learn a little more about when to best use asynchronous and synchronous learning events.

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Guide to Online Training for Electrical Transmission & Distribution

Online Training for Electrical Transmission & Distribution Guide

If you’re looking to implement online training for your electrical transmission & distribution workforce, this is the guide for you. We explain tech and terms; walk you through criteria for online training courses for T&D, learning management systems for administering your training, and online training providers; discuss ways to blend training for more effective learning; and much more.

We encourage you to download the guide, ask us any questions you may have, and of course check out our series of online training courses for the electrical transmission & distribution industry.

And a quick heads-up: we’ve got a surprise new training offering for the T&D sector coming soon, so come back in just a little while to see what the excitement is all about. It will be worth it, we promise.

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