Online Dating for Your Training Programs

“Hot, new startup seeks high potential leadership training for its team. You must be easily accessible, up-to-date and ready to engage at any time. Online a plus, but face-to-face is an option if you have the right program for our smart, tech-savvy team. Stuffy and stodgy need not apply.” 

It sounds a little strange, but finding a good match for your training needs is a lot like online dating. You look at a lot of ads before you find one that looks interesting. What is it about that specific person that makes him or her appealing? Are you looking for a “type”? Common interests, or branching out? Rekindling an old flame, or questing into new territory?

When planning for a new training program at your organization, do you stick with the same, safe program, researching the new options available — but in the end, staying in known territory? Are you a risk-taker, or do you prefer a mix of characteristics to meet all learning objectives?

Like searching for a partner in love, approaching the planning for learning and development for your partner in training requires taking some time to identify your needs, your desired outcomes and the time available to make this training effective and applicable. When seeking a “perfect match,” we suggest you start with a list of possibilities and then compare them side by side to ascertain what provider meets

most of your needs. Here we focus on the top three in actual plan execution.

1) Program

Program and project management consists of content, registration, and ongoing management and service. Like our online dating metaphor, you may be in an organization that doesn’t need a lot of hand holding (“low maintenance”) or requires a more robust set of management tools (“Kim Kardashian”). In either case, being honest with your needs and culture at the outset will save you lots of time, lost dollars and heartache later.

Consider the following items when planning for T&D management:

*Content Questions:

>> Do you need custom online course development, or do you prefer to access a library of pre-designed materials?

>> Do you need tailored courses for specific groups or skill sets? Or private cohorts for internal problem solving?

>> Is your team interested in multiple modalities of learning such as webcasts, podcasts, online and face-to-face workshops? Complete blended learning programs?

>> Are you interested in using recognized subject-matter experts?

*Registration Needs:

>> Does your identified training need require a secure, co-branded registration site, or is a clipboard and pen signup sheet more your speed?

>> Do you require registration approval procedures? Who will manage that aspect of the program?

2) Participant Services

>> Do you want to offer participants course selection counseling or registration assistance?

>> Is a dedicated account manager for your learning programs beneficial?

>> Will your participants need help-desk and support services (via phone, email or live chat)?

3) Measurement and evaluation

>> How would you like feedback and reporting about your program’s progress? Course exit survey reports (including testimonials)? Or simply a report on course completion?

>> Program utilization reports demonstrating the overall usage can be helpful, along with custom post-course surveys.

If your checklist for training initiatives is as comprehensive as your online dating profile, you will find the right match for your employees, your company’s initiatives and culture. Get all the answers to your questions ahead of the big commitment, and your employee learning programs will live happily ever after.

— eCornell, a subsidiary of Cornell University, provides online professional and executive development to students around the world. It offers more than 20 award-winning online certificate programs in a wide variety of disciplines. More info: www.ecornell.com

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