No one disputes the notion that skills and knowledge within a company are foundational to its success. Training, mentoring, and plain old experience are the means to that end. But when it comes to training, we’re often “too busy mopping the floor to turn off the water.”
Let’s face it. Training is one of those things we acknowledge as necessary, but often neglect. Taking time out of everyone’s schedule—and removing key people from their critical tasks—is a big risk. Even if the training is phenomenal, recovering from the break is costly.
Another problem is knowledge retention. People forget quickly. Great training is ultimately worthless if there is no reinforcement or practice afterwards.
So, what are the foundational “must haves” for a training organization in a fast-moving company, where more work is being handled by fewer people with less time spent in any one place?
Good trainers are hard to find, and their work is too often applied “like butter scraped over too much bread,” as Tolkien phrased it in The Lord of the Rings. Making their training efforts available to a large, global audience is a major reason to use online, on-demand video—but only if it’s easy to create and easy to reuse in multiple situations. (I discussed ways to repurpose or “recycle” training video in my August 19 article in Learning Solutions Magazine.)
It’s not enough just to put your best trainers in front of a camera. A truly sustainable video training program must allow team members to interact with the instructor, respond to scenario-based challenges, and give and receive relevant feedback. If it is merely a passive viewing experience, it will fail, and soft skills improvement will stagnate.
The mobile revolution is not about devices, it’s about the people who use them. Training and reinforcement—particularly if it involves interactive video—must happen whenever the learner has time, and wherever he or she may be. Training must meet the logistical needs of the mobile professional, not the other way around.
Without a doubt, this means compliance with web standards. Video has to work across all devices and operating systems, and not be confined to a select few. The Henry Ford saying about cars (“any color you want as long as it’s black”) does not work in the age of consumerized IT.
Mobile systems are not the only compatibility factor. Interactive training video should work with existing training systems, using interoperability standards like LTI.
At the risk of over-stating the obvious, pressing the “play” button should always result in the video playing—whenever you have an Internet connection, that is. Interactive features should also perform well. Trainers and trainees don’t want to wrestle with technology; they want training to happen. Period. It is a function of a good video-based training system to be a pleasant, unobtrusive user experience.
This is a formidable challenge. All Internet connections, and browsers, and operating systems, are NOT created equal. Online video platforms and Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) may be old news, but they’re still important. Make sure your interactive video training has the basics covered—and well supported when the occasional glitches occur.
There are two schools of thought when it comes to measurability of training effectiveness. The compliance model asks things like:
- Did you watch the video?
- When did you watch it?
- Did you watch the whole thing?
- Were you really watching, or just playing solitaire?
For some, this approach is sufficient, and many video training platforms offer tools for tracking views, duration, completion, and even attention. However, many trainers find this a poor substitute for actual learning. Instead, they want to ask:
- What’s the answer to this situation (in a video scenario)?
- Why is this information (in an attached document) relevant?
- How well did your colleague answer this objection?
- Record your response to this challenge…
To collect this kind of qualitative data, the video must allow users to interact at the timeline level, and the system itself must report the overall results of trainee interaction. It must help the trainer or manager know not just that they viewed the content, but that they acted on it.