Many organizations around the world have already tapped into the training potential offered by online training simulations. Simulations are highly specialized, interactive programs that allow workforce to learn and practice real world activities in a controlled, secure, and risk-free environment.
Online simulations can be used in a wide variety of training programs including product and sales training, compliance training, software training without any hassle of transporting materials or trainers or learners to a particular location. They are an ideal choice for any business organization where people have to follow procedures or learn a new trade or skill to be effective in the job they do.
I have listed out five best practices of creating online training simulations.
1. Identify which skills areas you wish to train or assess
Gather your SMEs and identify the learning needs and the skills that must be imparted. For example, sales people need to be trained on products, soft skills, handling customer objections and so on. Let’s say you wish to train them on selling skills. And to meet this requirement, create a sales simulation that mimics various selling situations which the rep would face in the course of his work. This would enable learners to practice and master their skills to hold good sales conversations and handle customers’ objections in a safe environment. Reps can effectively transfer these skills to their workplace.
Thus, we see that determining what skills you wish your learners to acquire will help you develop the right training simulation.
2. Keep the simulations short and easily digestible
A recent report by Microsoft revealed most Gen-Y learners have attention spans of not more than 8 seconds. Online training simulations need to be short but precise, so that learners can complete the online activity during their spare time.
Keep in mind that many corporate learners (such as sales reps) tend to be very busy and may not have room in their schedule to sit through a 30-minute online training simulation. So, break them into smaller chunks so that learners can complete whenever it’s convenient for them. Also, they can go skim through the specific steps needed to perform a task without having to start from the very beginning.
3. Strike a balance between realism and simplicity
Any online training simulation must be realistic enough to draw the attention of your learners. But, at the same time, it shouldn’t be so complicated that they give up midway. You need to sit down and research your workplace, and conduct a task analysis to determine what your learners ought to do.
For instance, in case of software training, you can create a watch-try-do simulation using simple screen captures. In a watch-try-do simulation, learners are shown the step-by-step process of using a software application and then allowed to try it in a virtual environment. This makes it easy for a learner to understand and learn the steps of using the software application.
4. Choose how you wish to evaluate and give feedback to your learners
Bill Gates rightly said “We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve. Unlike “traditional” e-learning, which offers factual and conceptual feedback, simulations help learners know the consequences of their actions. You may choose to delay the feedback, so that learners have time to reflect on their actions, resulting in a positive cognitive processing. (Source : tatainteractive)
5. Use the right authoring tool to develop the simulation
Various e-learning authoring tools provide the ‘Watch-Try-Do” simulation-building capability. But, Adobe Captivate is arguably the most effective. And is used widely to develop software simulations. The tool saves development time and efforts and provides rapid scalability. On the other hand, if sales simulations are what you wish to create, then you can go in for Articulate Storyline.
Here’s a software simulation created using Adobe Captivate.
Online training simulations enable learners to practice and master their skills in a risk-free environment. In order to make your online training simulations effective, keep them short and easy to digest; ensure that you do not complicate the simulations in pursuit of keeping it realistic; make use of the best authoring tool to create engaging and good software and sales simulations.
What practices do you follow while creating simulations for your online learning? Is there is a specific authoring tool you prefer to create them? Do let us know in the comments section.