Traditionally, product training was delivered either as a part of sales training program or as a classroom training program. However, over the last few years more options are being explored to deliver product training.
According to the survey done by trainingmag.com, more than 50% of training that is imparted in midsize and large companies is technology based. It goes on to show that using technology for training is something you can’t ignore as the number of employees in your company increases.
Technologies used for training
Thanks to the demands of markets and growing competition, companies have begun to use technology in one form or the other. Let’ take a look at some of them.
Some companies have also started using videos on products and are uploading on Your Tube for the benefit of not just their employees but customers in general. They are no doubt very beneficial but cannot really function as standalone training material because of the limitations of the medium and lack of interaction and feedback.
Webinars and virtual classroom are better than videos in that they are a bit more interactive when compared to videos. Participants get to communicate via chat. However, while they may be fine for quick product updates and for refreshing existing knowledge, it may not be able to replace a full-fledged training program.
Mobile learning is another latest trend but as we have seen in the research by trainingmag.com, it is at its nascent stage and need to go a long way before it is adopted as a norm in organizations. Nevertheless, companies can start using it for quick information bytes and refresher courses that provide just in time learning for their sales people.
eLearning has taken a new dimension in the last couple of years. As per the research by trainingmag.com about 56% of those surveyed use rapid eLearning to train their employees. A few years ago eLearning used for product training were static page turner type of courses which were not as effective. However, thanks to the new and powerful authoring tools that have come up off late, eLearning courses have become rather effective to deliver product training. And is an useful alternative for companies who need to reach their geographically widespread employees in limited time.
Here is another snapshot of the same survey. Notice that 56% currently use Rapid eLearning and about 70% use virtual classroom/webcasting or video broadcasting for training their employees and a fairly large group use LMS for their training requirements.
What we have seen is organizations are making isolated attempts to provide product training choosing one of the many available formats. Each of the medium used to deliver product knowledge is good in its own way. However, if there is one method that comes close to the effectiveness of a classroom training, that is eLearning.
Many organizations use blended learning using a multitude of technologies and that is the right strategy. eLearning can be the base which has videos as a part of its modules. These can be uploaded as independent resources as well that can be made available to sales people anytime – even on their mobile devices. Having seen the videos in the context of a full-fledged course, employees are more likely to benefit from it when they view it as a refresher.
Webinars or virtual classrooms as a follow up to eLearning can serve as a part of reinforcement strategy. What it means is that the annual product training sessions can be followed up with eLearning modules, podcasts and assessments hosted on the LMS. Wikis, discussions and chats can be initiated on the LMS to facilitate integration and peer to peer learning.
So, instead of using isolated efforts in the form of webinars, videos, virtual classrooms or mLearning modules, use an integrated approach that makes training available on a continual basis.