You have invested countless amounts of hours, effort and budgets for training and imparting[theoretical] knowledge to your learners. When you have spent your resources for training your employees, you want to ensure that they retain the information, do their jobs better and not just recite and recount training content. You want them to be able to figure out what is wrong with a piece of equipment and fix it, than just know the troubleshooting tips.
Transferring learning is easier, but to measure its effectiveness is a whole different ball game. Let’s see how simulations can be used to measure training effectiveness.
Simulations are imitations of real world experiences, immersive in nature, which evoke aspects of the real world in a fully interactive fashion. It is a technique for practice and learning that can be applied to different types of training programs. Researchers Anderson and Lawton in their study ‘Is Simulation Performance Related to Application?’, found a strong correlation between what learners learned during training and their performance in a simulation. They concluded that:
- Simulations are effective at getting learners to apply concepts that they have learned through classroom learning
- Simulations can be used for testing because they can evaluate learner comprehension of key concepts taught throughout a course
Let us look at some examples of simulations being used to measure post-training effectiveness.
In the healthcare industry, health professionals are constantly required to develop knowledge, skills, and attitudes. It’s widely understood that through exposure to patients, healthcare professionals can acquire these necessary skills. However, there is also an obligation to protect patients from unnecessary risks, to ensure their safety and well being.
In this case, simulation-based e-learning can be a strategy for learners to lessen or completely resolve practical dilemmas. They can be offered the required knowledge or content through e-learning modules/classroom training; then allow them to showcase what they have learned, using simulations. Because simulations offer a risk-free environment and learners can afford to take risks, it ensures that healthcare professionals learn procedures and treatment protocols before performing them on actual patients.
Rather than sending them onto the sales floor untrained, you can use simulations to determine if your sales team has the skills and knowledge that are required to help customers,without compromising the company standards. Offer them sales skills training through a standard e-learning/ILT and allow them to test themselves using simulations.
Simulations with scenarios of interactions or conversations between a customer and a sales person go a long way in helping your salespeople visualize a real-world problem and understand the situation well.You can ask them to observe the outcome of the scenario in question, and check if the sales pitch will lead to a conversion. If they fail, you can offer a short learning module on that particular concept until they master the learning objective.
Simulations make software training simple and enable learners to try out procedures in a risk-free manner without disturbing the software. Watch-Try-Do (WTD) simulations are a popular approach for training employees on new piece of software. Employees watch the steps involved in the software program, try the same with guided help, and finally do the task on their own, enabling them to develop hands-on experience in working with the actual software in real-time.
The do part of WTD simulation evaluates your post-training effectiveness, because employees will have already watched the software simulation before trying (do) the software themselves. This gives you a peek into how much the learners have learned during the initial part of the simulation and helps you plan any further training accordingly.
The main objective of any training is to help learners improve their skills and enable them to apply the learning at work. Simulations, when used as a post-training evaluation tool, act as an effective technique to help your learners identify their learning gaps. They help organizations evaluate learners, and determine the retention capacity of a learner, and then take appropriate steps to improve training, if and when needed.