Design strategies for product training can be multifold depending on the nature of the product and the target audience. For example, the learning strategy for a software product would be different from the strategy needed to train on a piece of equipment or an electronic gadget. Similarly, the strategy cannot be the same for a sales person selling a product and the end-user who is actually going to be using the product.
Nevertheless, there are some basic design strategies that can serve as guidelines for product training. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Workshops/ Hands on sessions: The best way to get a learner to familiarize himself with a product is through workshops which are hands-on where a learner can actually get to use the product. However, when you need to train a large group of employees spread across different regions on using a piece of equipment, you could use an alternative strategy. You could use online training options which could be followed up with hands-on or on-the-job training.
Demonstrations/ Videos: Online demonstrations of products can be very powerful means to demonstrate how the product needs to be operated. Demos are effective to showcase the products in action. If using an online training method, videos of the demonstrations can be embedded into the eLearning courseware.
Graphics: When it is not possible to show a product physically, the best way to represent it is through graphics. In fact, in certain situations, a 3D model of a product can be visually demonstrated more clearly using graphics so that its functionality is better understood.
Job Aids: As the name indicates, these could consist of any information that helps the user do his job better. It could be a checklist for operating machine or simple dos and don’ts while using a product.
Case-based learning: A scenarios can be used to explain product features or functions. Content that is otherwise theoretical and boring could be made more interesting to the learner by using case-based scenarios. Troubleshooting of problems could also be explained in a similar manner with relevant examples.
Testimonials: Customer testimonials about the benefits of a product can be used as an effective means to highlight the main features of a product.
Electronic Performance Support Systems (EPSS): Barry Raybould in 1991 defined EPSS as a computer-based system that improves worker productivity by providing on-the-job access to integrated information, advice, and learning experiences. These are ideal for training that requires needing access to a huge amount of information. Think of the kind of information that dealers or distributers of spare parts for automobiles need and you will see how an electronic performance support system provides an optimal solution.
eLearning or online learning can be effectively used for product training purposes. Instructor-led training for products may have certain advantages but if they are supplemented with online training with the design strategies mentioned above, it surely will make the course very learner-centric and user-friendly.