E-learning courses are often used in blended learning programs to ensure that the programs are conducted in an efficient and effective manner. There are many types of blended learning programs. Few of them could start with a classroom training session, to which an eLearning course can be prepended or appended. This depends on the specific requirement of organization and context of usage.
Generally, on-the-job training follows the classroom training session which concentrates on explaining theoretical concepts. We are all familiar with this type of learning.
It is usually structured as follows:
- Classroom Training
- On-the-Job Training
In classroom training, the instructor tries to explain the subject in a conceptual manner, helping learners understand the topic in a conventional way. Thereafter, the learners move to a place where equipment is present. Here, they explore the equipment and attempt to link what they see to what they have learnt in the classroom. In most cases, the instructor first demonstrates the operation of the equipment and this is followed by the learners getting a hands-on experience.
1. Where does an eLearning program fit into this training type?
The placement of the program depends on the context, but let’s discuss about the often used sequence.
2. What change does this new addition bring to the training program?
The benefits of using an eLearning program here are similar to the benefits of a standalone eLearning program. The eLearning program, as we all know, provides better understanding of the concepts through visualization. The learner will have a clear and precise idea of the concept through eLearning. Let’s see how adding eLearning prior to on-the-job training helps.
The eLearning program will demonstrate the equipment to the learner in a digital environment, which is close to reality. This will help him see what he will be working on later.
3. How did we go around with this approach?
We worked for a client in the automobile industry for a training program that helps automobile mechanics understand various service procedures. We worked on developing instructional methodologies for classroom training, eLearning and on-the-job training methodologies, for this project. The eLearning course was introduced after the classroom training, before on-the-job training. If we take a module on engines, for instance, in the classroom, we asked the instructor to list the steps in the operating procedure to be performed. Moving on to the eLearning course, we have demonstrated a highly interactive 3-D model of the engine. Here, the learner had the chance to explore various components in great detail. We have also provided an opportunity to the learner to perform the service procedures in a virtual environment, using various tools. We, at the end of the eLearning program, conducted an assessment that required the learner to perform the service procedures as in a real time environment. Here’s where the eLearning program benefited the learner and the company.
Dynamic Instructional Design saved our day:
Here, we have used a dynamic instructional design model to ensure that the training program is a success. What is dynamic instructional design? Well, let me explain with the same example. Depending on the results obtained from the eLearning assessment, the training program will be modified in structure to increase the chances of success. In other words, if the learners do not perform well in the assessment, the classroom training will be revisited to focus only on those areas where the learners have failed to perform. Hence, the eLearning program will not only serve the purpose of bringing the concepts closer to the learner, but also serves as an assessment for the classroom training conducted.
4. How does this benefit the company?
The equipment used in the on-the-job training could be very expensive and are prone to damage, if not handled properly. Sometimes, mishandling the equipment could also cause damage to the user. We cannot rely entirely on classroom training sessions or a single demonstration to prepare the learner for handling the equipment in the right manner. With the eLearning course, the company will have an idea of the learner’s readiness for working in the real time environment. This will reduce the chances of losing money due to equipment damage. This hypothesis is not confined to equipment-based training. Consider software training. If the user has learnt about the programming structure through a book or in a classroom training session and moves to work on the ”real” software, mishandling the code could cause unexplained abnormalities in the software. Here’s where an eLearning program such as a software simulation-based course helps. The learner will be interacting with a simulation program that behaves just as the software and has the opportunity to correct his mistakes, something which cannot be done in real-time.
An eLearning program conducted prior to on-the-job training helps in two ways. It benefits the learner by taking him one step closer to real time environment for better understanding of the procedure. It also benefits the company by saving their time and money. What do you think? Please share your views in the comments section below.