Tips to Improve E-learning Transfer

We all want our e-learning programs to increase our participants’ performances on-the-job; in other words, training transfer. I define training transfer as “…participants successfully implementing and integrating skills learned in

We all want our e-learning programs to increase our participants’ performances on-the-job; in other words, training transfer. I define training transfer as “…participants successfully implementing and integrating skills learned in training into their work behavior.” Startling fact: only 10 percent to 15 percent of training skills are successfully transferred to the job.

Here are three tips other organizations have used to increase their transfer rate to 70 percent, which have been implemented at very little — or no additional — cost.

Tip #1: Map Design to Adoption

When designing e-learning, look beyond the program and ask yourself: “What do we expect participants to do on the job, based upon the course design?” I call these adoptive behaviors. Make sure your course objectives and content are supportive of these behaviors. You’d be surprised how often we teach content that will never be used because the participants have no need for — or opportunity to use — that content. Highly transferable training has tightly aligned content to adoptive behavior. In the same light, the activities and techniques you employ during e-learning programs to practice new skills also needs to align to adoptive behaviors.

Tip #2: Hold Pre-course Conversations

During e-learning, many participants feel overwhelmed by the quantity of information presented to them. A pre-course conversation between the participants and their supervisors helps them focus on the content that is relevant to them, their team and/or the company. Training departments are often reluctant to ask supervisors to do “one more thing.” Providing a pre-course conversation job aid for supervisors makes this approach as easy and as focused as possible. The goal here is to increase transfer by setting learning expectations, communicating accountability and providing supervisor support.

Tip #3: Do Action-Planning

Action planning is a set of clearly written statements describing in measurable terms the specific actions the participant intends to apply on-the-job as a result of training. In preparing this, the participant is drawing up a personal transfer plan, thinking about how, where, and when to match the new skills to concrete situations on-the-job before leaving training. Provide goal-planning in the e-learning program. Keep your action statements simple, such as: “The action I will take is…” and “The outcome I expect is…” I usually have participants author no more than two or three goals for any one program because any more and participants usually fail to transfer anything.

—The author, Dave Basarab, is an experienced evaluator and author who has led strategic training initiatives for leading companies like N.C.R., Motorola, Pitney Bowes and Ingersoll Rand. His new book “Predictive Evaluation” is a ground-breaking approach to training and evaluation” His Website: www.evaluatetraining.com.

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