Being smart about measurement and evaluation in these pandemic times

Author: Professor Robert Brinkerhoff
Published: May 11 2020

Universities, schools, and L&D organizations everywhere are facing a pressing need to quickly transition face-to-face live group training efforts to virtual and on-line programming.

Inevitably, especially as we rush to make this transition, some of what we do will work, and some of it will not. We have to be able to figure out, quickly and on the fly, what is working and what is not, and make ongoing adjustments. This is the job of evaluation.  To do evaluation is not a choice, we have to, but we can choose to be smart about it. We cannot afford to spend time on measures that do not yield worthwhile and actionable data. We need valid actionability: barking up the trees that are most right for overall organization success – now.

Forget the questions of “business impact” or in Kirkpatrick terminology, Level 4, ROE, and other sorts of evaluation pursuits that will waste our precious time.  What is most important is doing more of the things that are helping our L&D participants make use of the learning we’re providing, and what is getting in the way if they are struggling to make good use what we’re providing.

My advice: Leave the “business outcome” metrics to the people who own them, and instead focus most heavily on getting the behaviour changes that, if enacted, will drive the metrics in the right direction. In this sense, the Kirkpatrick Level Three evaluation is most important. And, do not wait for the standard 3-6 months to investigate this. If people aren’t making changes in their behaviour right away, something is wrong and needs to be fixed.

Here are the sorts of evaluation purposes and methods that will yield the greatest fruit as new virtual programs are launched, along with some notes about what kinds of useful actions these data can help drive. None of these requires sophisticated data methods or analyses – this is not rocket science.

Social distance - or maybe not?

Author: David Djerf
Published: May 08 2020

At a time when we need each other most, to create security and understanding, it is unfortunate that social distance has become synonymous with physical rejection. On the contrary, we should continue to be social but avoid being physically close to each other. Many companies now face the challenge of creating a strong us-feeling at a distance.

Technology allows us to continue to be social and in a short time many organizations have had to switch to digital solutions. For better or for worse. In my world, at Induction, where our most important task is to welcome new employees to their new workplaces, we have always used technology as leverage to create engaging, structured and effective introduction programs.

Through a warm and structured welcome, we bridge physical distance and give new employees good conditions to succeed as new at work. Through our learning platform Promote, we create meetings between people and strategy, structure and building culture. Sure, technology can make it easier, improve, and simplify for many organizations, not least for overburdened managers with too little time for their new employees. 

Digital onboarding should support and drive social interaction but very rarely replace the interpersonal meeting between the manager and new employee! Something that can happen both digitally and physically.

So what does it take to succeed if you want to digitize your onboarding process?

The first step must be to dare to think new. Simply creating a digital checklist in a neat user interface will hardly create a WOW feel for your new employees. There must be room for interaction, reflection and, not least, inspiration.

The second is to facilitate and support managers. I have not met any manager who does not want to be present, coaching and a good role model. Unfortunately, however, the reality is all too often different, where constant priorities and urgent commitments mean that there is not enough time. Here technology can help us, as support and free up time for managers.

Last but perhaps most important. There is a great risk that new employees will receive far too much information during their introduction, believing that it will help them perform their duties as quickly and well as possible. Many companies drown their employees in theory, e-learning and PDFs. But when was the last time you read a pdf of ten pages?

What can you do today?

My tip is to look through your onboarding process with new eyes. If you were the new one, what would have ignited your spark? What would have made you feel committed? What would have given you a good start in your new role? Think about this and how you would like to experience this digitally – but still socially!

Take care of each other and good luck with what you are going to do today and not least tomorrow.

Tips from the virtual trenches - the (new) normal

Author: Martin Nilsson
Published: April 14, 2020

I have 15 years’ experience of helping people and organizations moving training from classrooms into the daily work and virtual environments. At the moment we are getting a lot of questions where to begin so here are a few quick tips from the virtual trenches.

During the years the reasons for online transformation of training have different, and at the moment one reason is all too apparent. However, with all the creative energy and technical capabilities, we are moving into a new normal. We will not travel as much for training and we will still see cost benefits of having parts of training programs in virtual classrooms. Here are a few small steps you can do now and that also will give you an edge when things are back to (the new) normal.

Non-perfect is the new perfect

Don’t over prepare. Do it and adapt as you go. A lot of trainers we are working with have never done training in an online classroom, but it works from the first try. And next time even a bit better. The reviews from the participants are usually amazing even from the start.

Even Hollywood are using DIY

If you are delivering full days of training, the video and audio quality has to be good, and the camera in a suitable height. There are many easy ways make improvements with things you already have. If you have an echo in a room, put in a coat hanger with clothes to absorb bouncing sound. If the camera is to low and you don’t have a camera tripod use boxes, chairs or whatever go reach the right height. It doesn’t have to be pretty behind the camera but it will reduce fatigue for the participants.

Buy once cry once

Try using equipment you already have but be prepared to make some investments in a conferencing system if it falls short. The ease of use and improvements in video and audio quality will make it worthwhile. Depending on room size we have standardized on a few Logitech systems, “Connect”, “Meetup 4k”, “Group Conference” and “Rally plus”. There are plenty of systems out there so try out what works for you. A great tip is also to put a computer screen close to camera to be able to view and talk directly to the participants. It’s much more natural to talk to others than just into a camera.

Choose an online service (or two) 

Now a days there are a number of great conference platforms to choose from depending on the type of training you are delivering. Some have interactive features like polling, assignments and break out rooms, where others are more suitable for a large audience. We are primarily are using Zoom for the ease of use but also GotoMeeting, GotoWebinar, Microsoft Teams and Adobe Connect depending on type of training and sometimes customer requirements.

Training design is more important than ever

Good training design is always important but even more so in a virtual environment. The flaws in a poorly designed training will be more apparent (compliance e-learning anyone?) where as a good training design will convert well into a virtual setting and often also be enhanced by new types of interactivity.

Let’s help each other out and share the experience

Some organizations and participants are more used to virtual settings than others. Now is the time to share good practices and support each other. I’m happy to help and please share tips in the comments. Stay safe.

The Future of Online Delivery in the Aftermath of Coronavirus

Author: Alex Brittain-Catlin
Published: April 5 2020

The situation in the area of Learning and Development is somewhat disordered right now. The question of how to deliver effectively when our participants are not able to gather in a classroom is being addressed in a variety of ways. L&D professionals are having to address how they deliver training initiatives, they are having to use new tools and approaches, and whilst in many cases there are challenges with these approaches, there are some things of which we should take note. Are there approaches and techniques that we should be evaluating to use as standard going forward?

It’s too early to know exactly how things will look in the next few weeks and months ahead. There is still a high level of uncertainty in business terms, let alone what it means when it comes to L&D initiatives. Though, what we can see, is that the move to virtual and digital has really given momentum to an approach that has been with us for a number of years.


The Requirement to Move Online

There are some organisations that are well ahead when it comes to the design of blended programs that incorporate virtual and digital elements, who are familiar with the tools and techniques to deliver effective training out of the classroom. However, this can not be said for all. There are still many out there who rely heavily on classroom training sessions and where there have been many, assorted reasons why the move to a more blended approach has not been taken. Until now.

The rapid requirement to a more virtual and digital approach is supported by an underlying requirement to make this shift that has been gradually making itself felt for several years. There have been requirements to reduce the time that employees are away from the office participating in education, this has come from organisations but also from participants themselves, who find it hard to justify days away from work. The cost of participation is another reason, not only in terms of the education itself but also in terms of logistical costs and time away from operational matters. Another argument used to reduce the number of classroom days is in terms of the reach of learning initiatives, if we can reduce the requirement to travel, we are able to offer consistent trainings to a wider participant base and be more flexible in our approach. These are not new.

Many of us in the Learning and Development world have been caught relatively unprepared by the current Corvid-19 crisis. This has led to the rapid move to virtual and digital as a means of delivery. eLearning has also once again seen an increase in demand as the requirement to deliver out of the classroom has been a necessity. The question is what will happen when things return to normal, where once again classroom sessions are possible. Will we just throw these new tools out or really begin to apply them in our trainings going forward?


Incorporating Digital and Virtual Approaches

The most obvious move has been the huge uptake in the use of virtual meeting tools. Meeting tools such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts etc are all finding their place in the world of L&D like never before. Suddenly, instructors are having to utilise these means in order to reach out to their participants and whilst there have been some hiccups, many of us are realising that actually it’s not so bad after all.

An additional point when it comes to virtual tools is that not only are instructors becoming more attuned in how to deliver virtually but participants are becoming familiar with these tools as a means of attending trainings. Yes, there have been some approaches that haven’t quite worked, learning sessions that have been too long, or not had the right mix of variety, duration, and interaction to really create engagement. This is not so surprising given the need to rapidly adjust. However, the familiarity with these tools as a means to deliver or receive training is definitely something that can be utilised going forward. As long as we learn and use the right approaches, both in terms of design and delivery, to create truly interactive, engaging, and valuable virtual sessions there are opportunities ahead.

The utilisation of digital platforms has also been necessary as a means of delivering knowledge transfer, to structure learning initiatives, and provide forums for participant interaction. Whether it’s an LMS system, or something like the Promote platform, we have really had to address how we support knowledge transfer to our participants. Historically many of these platforms have been used to support classroom learning, now they are having to be used in their own right – to enable learning, build knowledge, and support application.

Social learning has also experienced an uptick, where Online communities of learning are currently very popular. People are seeking advice but also sharing experiences digitally because they this is the only means that they have available to them right now. Informal learning was there before but it’s become increasingly prominent over the past few weeks. How can we harness this in an effective way for the benefit of our employees and their ongoing development – not only in times of Coronavirus.

These approaches are not new but there have been barriers to application that have mostly had to be torn down given the current situation. Given where we are now, where there is greater familiarity with them on the part of both facilitators and participants, we can take steps to incorporate them properly into our L&D initiatives in the future. This will no longer be the right-now necessity but we should be able to take a breath and see what is the best tool for the job and holistically design a program that incorporates the best elements of a blended approach to meet the development needs of both our learning audiences and the organisations they work for alike.

Now, of course, there will be those who return to the reliance on the classroom setting as soon as they are able. There are still valid reasons to hold face-to-face learning activities, not least in terms of training to apply behaviours, networking opportunities, controlled application, the ability to give immediate feedback and actually, because many participants still prefer to learn in a face-to-face environment. The point is that given the new approaches we’ve all had to apply recently, we should be able to make a more qualified decision as to whether a face-to-face session is vital, nice to have, or can be replaced with something that serves the purpose just as well.


What Happens Next?

What we have seen is that the High-Performance Learning Journey approach provides us with many of the answers when it comes to how to design such blended programs. Indeed, where we have already incorporated this approach one of the advantages has been that only the face-to-face elements have had to be replaced and not the whole approach to a training program. Whilst still a challenge, this has been a simpler process and more straightforward to achieve. The increase in the use of virtual tools and platforms to support learning has also broken many of the barriers that presented themselves when it came to getting knowledge, learning, and application across to our participants.

My point is this, things are chaotic right now. There may be too much uncertainty in many organisations to make a decision now in terms of how trainings are going to be designed and delivered going forward but there are some valuable lessons that we can take with us. Fairly soon, hopefully, the Coronavirus will recede and we will be able to decide on what our longer-term approach can be. However, if things continue as they are right now, we will be forced to make a more long-term decision on how we deliver using these tools. Either way, we should be able to deliver L&D initiatives in a manner that enables us to really use them to their best advantage and we are doing things right now that can inform these decisions.

How to Quickly Apply a Blended Approach to Make Your Face-to-Face Learning Happen

Author: Alex Brittain-Catlin
Published: March 26, 2020

The current Coronavirus situation has led to a number of travel restrictions coming into place at an alarming rate and more people working from home. An increasingly urgent question that we are facing from customers is what they can do with their Learning and Development programs that are scheduled to be run in the next few weeks.

The problem statement is: A program needs to be delivered in two or three weeks, participants will not be collocated, we only have basic virtual facilities but we need this program to go out.

This is a similar challenge to that which Promote has been helping customers with for a number of years. Our consultants are experienced at working with customers to create greater performance from L&D initiatives, whilst reducing face-to-face time, or even creating completely virtual programs. To take into account the current situation, we are using an intermediate approach.

Our response is two-fold. The “near term” solution addresses converting a Learning and Development program into a no-face-to-face option that works with an acceptable level of quality and knowledge transfer. However, we also know that this might not be the optimal solution for delivering performance related initiatives going forward. It’s a near term solution for an near term problem and not a long-term recommendation.

We are taking a pragmatic approach here. Whilst there are a number of virtual classroom offerings available, not least Adobe Connect and Microsoft Teams, a large number of facilitators and participants will not necessarily have immediate access to these immediately. There is also a learning curve in terms of how to use these. However, most people should have access to a personal computer and a video conferencing software, so these are the tools that we are focusing primarily on for the immediate short-term.

What we are steering away from, for the most part, is simply replacing a classroom face-to-face event with a virtual face to face event. Whilst this sounds like the most obvious approach, there are challenges with doing this. The main ones are that this approach does not encourage engagement, interaction between participants is difficult, particularly if they are sitting by themselves, and that long virtual sessions are fraught with problems. We might be able to get a program delivered but at what cost?

Instead, for a near term solution, we are suggesting a change in approach. Where much of the knowledge foundation is delivered beforehand, either in terms of basic learning videos, or theory sessions using voice over PowerPoint. We are moving the focus of the live session from one where theory/knowledge is imparted to the place where findings are discussed, clarification given, examples are taken from participants. This does two things, it focuses on how the knowledge can be applied, which is more engaging for virtual participants but it also takes the pressure off the instructors by creating a dynamic that is easier to handle.

The Promote platform supports our approach because it provides a backbone around which training can be structured. The short-term solution is to provide a virtual training that is supported by pre-and post-assignments. The key being that much of the actual knowledge transfer happens outside of the virtual classroom. Our aim being to reduce as far as possible the amount of time participants will need to spend in virtual classrooms, whilst still giving them what they need to not only learn a subject but also be able to put it into practice.

Be aware that we will probably have to reschedule these learning events. A two-day, face-to-face training might well have to become a two-week blended approach, with one or two relatively short live virtual sessions. The actual time dedicated to the program might be similar for both learner and instructor but we will have to stretch the journey in order to reach the result we want. The upside is that we should also be able to maintain, or even increase, the value that we generate from the training.

The following is an approach that can be used to turn a face to face event into a virtual training:

  1. Look at the L&D Portfolio: Look at the learning portfolio and identify which programs need to be adjusted most urgently.

For each of the programs identified:

  1. Address the proposed schedule: What is the original schedule in terms of time scale and what are the options for adjusting this schedule?
  2. Analyze each program: Evaluate for each program.
    • Purpose of the program: Intended output, level of complexity.
    • Determine the instructor/SME: level of technical ability, ability to adjust approach.
    • Determine the target group: level of technical ability, geographic spread.
    • Program requirements: Expectations on participants following program, amount of knowledge transfer, potential performance outcomes.
    • Organizational tools available: Video conferencing, Promote or LMS, ability to receive virtual training. Set ambition levels accordingly.
  3. Break down the existing schedule:
    • What elements relate to the structure of the program (e.g. Kick-off, introduction, program schedule)?
    • What elements relate to knowledge transfer (e.g. theory, skill development)?
    • What elements relate to assignments and tasks, in terms of building awareness of the need for application of the knowledge, current situation, participant relevance, discussion, practice, feedback, alignment to my role, and application at work (e.g. what is the current situation?, how can I apply this in my team?)?

4.1. Structural elements: Structural elements can entirely be moved online and conducted by Promote or in some cases through an LMS.

4.2 Knowledge transfer sections: It’s important that video / voice over PowerPoint for the introduction of knowledge is used only when it’s absolutely crucial to the program. This means identifying what is a must-have, what is a nice to have, and what can be excluded. Then making a choice. Broadly speaking, we are looking at breaking these down into the following areas.:

  • What must be delivered by an instructor/subject matter expert.
  • What elements are introducing new knowledge and what elements are follow-up, clarification, or related to application.
  • What can be delivered digitally using voice over PowerPoint/pre-recorded videos, or learning literature via a platform, such as Promote.
  • What absolutely has to be delivered live.

4.3 Assignments and tasks: These elements can be delivered pre-session or post-session via Promote or some LMSs through the creation of assignments. Required interaction between instructors, SMEs, participants and their managers can then be created through specific types of tasks for each assignment.

  • Create new structure: Redistribute the key components into pre-training, live training, and post-training elements.
  • Create Content:
    • Create assignments and tasks in Promote/LMS.
    • Adjust existing or create new knowledge foundation material by using video, voice over PowerPoint, training literature, etc.
    • Create schedule for live sessions: What is the intended input from Promote, what targeted participant engagement do I want to create (input of good examples, questions, what needs to be clarified in terms of theory already delivered, what is “good practice”, are there small elements of theory that can be added? etc.).
  • Review and Adjust: Once the skeleton of the program has been put together, the assignments and tasks created, the whole program needs to be reviewed in terms of flow. Most importantly here is to ascertain whether the pre-session assignments build up to and provide the live session with the right level of input to enable the live session to be interactive and relevant. The post-session assignments need to be reviewed to ensure that they flow from the live event and that there are inter-dependencies throughout.
  • Sign off Program: Ensure that the program meets the stakeholder’s requirements in its current form.
  • Launch Program: Kick the program off, introduce the approach to participants, help them overcome any barriers (real or perceived), and ensure ongoing facilitation throughout.
  • Evaluate and Adjust: Following each stage, evaluate and adjust according to what actually happened vs what is supposed to happen.

This process can be used for programs that currently contain single or multiple modules.

In terms of time and depending on the type of program, Promote is able to adjust the basic structure, assignments and tasks to be created within a day or two. The creation of new videos or voice over PowerPoint will take a little longer depending on the level of quality required. However, if we are looking at good enough, this can be achieved relatively quickly – depending on the resources at hand.

Rethinking the way programs are delivered to beat the need to travel

Author: Alex Brittain-Catlin
Published: March 20, 2020

The Coronavirus has brought many challenges with it. Not least that organisations have started enforcing travel bans on their employees, which has had an understandable impact on Learning and Development programs that are currently underway.

Just such a situation has arisen with one of our customers. They have just concluded the pilot of a program and were intending to roll out at scale in the next few weeks. Enter the necessary travel ban and suddenly their plans are up in the air.

The particular program focused on some several hundred employees located around the country. The initial aim was to gather them together in smaller groups and facilitate the learning in the normal way, over several one-day sessions. However, this is now not possible and the idea of waiting until the travel ban is lifted is equally unappealing because of the delays that it will bring. The question was whether to postpone, cancel, or try another approach.

The design of the program revolved around a three-phase approach. The first phase incorporates our online platform Promote to act as the backbone of the program, providing the corporative relevance, the learning theory, and supervisor engagement. Once this knowledge foundation has been delivered digitally, participants move to phase two, the face-to-face sessions where they would really practice and develop key behaviours. During the final phase, there would be additional application assignments, facilitated by both instructors (digitally) and supervisors (face-to-face) to ensure that the participants actually implemented the learning in their workplaces and were supported in doing so. However, due to travel restrictions, the second phase and therefore the whole program were now in danger.

The solution has been to facilitate the face-to-face sessions virtually. The upside is no need to travel, a reduction in logistical costs, and a continuation of the program roll out. All this without a loss in quality and still providing the participants with what they need to apply their learning in their places of work.

This approach has not been without its challenges, not least in the experience that many of us have had when attending virtual trainings in the past. In the majority of cases these could not have been described as engaging and their value has rightly been challenged. The key has been not to address just the face-to-face elements but the design of the program as a whole. To take the emphasis away from the purely co-located elements and place it across the different media. Taking this approach, we can still attain the performance we are after but the virtual facilitation takes on a more central role.

An additional factor may well turn out to be that this customer doesn’t return to the event focus that they have had hitherto. That once the more virtual approach has been introduced and participants become familiar with it, the requirement to deliver as many face-to-face trainings can be reduced. The situation was forced upon them through necessity but has also proven to be an opportunity to try something new.

Ironically, this new approach is not so new after all. It’s already out there being delivered in other companies. However, what was missing was the spur to adopt this new approach. Programs do not necessarily need to be put on hold because of the unfolding situation but can instead be re-embodied through new means of delivery, aided by technology, and designed with performance in mind.

See this as an opportunity, albeit one that has been brought about through unfortunate circumstances, to try new approaches rather than as a reason to stop Learning and Development initiatives.


Webinar: Implementing virtual training into the learning environment

Recent years have seen many organizations attempt the transition from classroom training to virtual alternatives. This has been driven by many and varied pressures – cost reduction, environmental concerns – that are unlikely to disappear. At the same time many organizations have struggled to maintain satisfactory attendance, engagement and completion.

Please join us for a 45 minute online webinar when we will unveil this new program and share some of the key insights from over four years and 500 hours of virtual training.

The Impact of External Factors and How L&D Needs to Change its Approach

Author: Alex Brittain-Catlin
Published: March 06, 2020

The World is being hit by the effects of the Coronavirus, the personal challenges of those who have been infected and the concerns of those who have not yet been. With governments recommending that people work from home and organisations putting travel restrictions into place, we are already seeing the impact that such an outbreak can have on the international community.

The challenges that are currently present for the wider business environment are also reflected in how Learning and Development departments are able to deliver educational initiatives in such situations. By and large, there is still a dependency on not only flying people around the globe for such learning events but also of then gathering groups of people together and putting them in classrooms for at least a few days. Neither of which are ideal, either for the companies or for the participants of such programs.

It is not just health issues that effect the ability of companies to deliver what can be important training ambitions. Economic downturns have also proven a challenge to Learning and Development activities, where once again the costs of holding trainings often leads to them being early victims of any sort of slowdown. The double impact comes because it may well be at such times that such learning and development is most needed, during times of change where there is often time and opportunity to carry out competence development activities.

There is still an over-reliance on the traditional way of doing things when it comes to Learning and Development. The hangover of event-based thinking for many training initiatives still remains. However, event-based thinking has been challenged recently and for good reason. Not least because of resistance both from organisations and from individuals to spending time away from work to participate. The cost of “time away from work” is increasingly challenged, the inevitable backlog of work that needs to be done upon return or the “organisational realities” that take precedence over the luxury of development have become increasingly apparent.

The problem is not insurmountable and technology can come to our aid. It is genuinely possible to turn face-to-face training programs into less intrusive, more flexible, and more performance driven activities. The solution comes not in turning to a new medium but in using a range of media to meet our requirements. This is not about turning face-to-face events into virtual events, or by making all learning standalone eLearning. Instead it’s about using a mix of media to deliver such initiatives to best suit the subject matter, the organisation’s requirements, and the learners’ needs.

The solution comes through two main factors. Firstly, the move from an event to a journey focus. This enables smaller learning chunks to be delivered and subsequent applications to be applied where they matter most, in the work place. This means that a sizeable amount of the development happens whilst at work. Secondly, technology can support this application, it provides a backbone on which to base the knowledge foundation, to deliver theory, enable discussion, filter ideas, and report back on application. Manager support, key to many such learning initiatives, can also be built and garnered throughout the process.

More recently the additional ability of virtual facilitation to replace in many instances the requirement of face-to-face time is an additional and increasingly effective element. Gone are the days of long, laborious lectures delivered via a computer, instead replaced by interactive learning sessions that have been proven to be as effective. What we are seeing is a change in mindset when it comes to how we use virtual, to finally give us a way of really making it work.

Organisations would be well advised to look at how they deliver Learning and Development initiatives to their employees to realise more effective learning outcomes. If not, operational realities may well force their hand. Making this shift is eminently possible but it does require a rethink in the way we design and deliver such programs.

Webinar: Implementing virtual training into the learning environment

Recent years have seen many organizations attempt the transition from classroom training to virtual alternatives. This has been driven by many and varied pressures – cost reduction, environmental concerns – that are unlikely to disappear. At the same time many organizations have struggled to maintain satisfactory attendance, engagement and completion.

Please join us for a 45 minute online webinar when we will unveil this new program and share some of the key insights from over four years and 500 hours of virtual training.

An Executive Summary of Relationships of Goal Orientation, Metacognitive Activity, and Practice Strategies with Learning Outcomes and Transfer

Author: Alex Brittain-Catlin
Published: December 6th, 2019

Original White Paper by J. Kevin Ford, Eleanor M. Smith, Daniel A Weissbein, Stanley M. Gully and Eduardo Salas.

When it comes to designing training programmes, the requirement on the instructional designer is to prepare the learner to be able to handle tasks in their performance environment by tackling various and similar tasks in the learning environment. However, particularly when the skill set involves social interactions and complex behaviours, the scenarios in which the target audience are asked to apply their learning are often more challenging than was conducted during the training. So, what is the approach that will enable the learners to successfully tackle more demanding situations, be willing to do so, and persevere in the new approach even when there is not an expressed and prescribed way of doing so?

There is a complex interdependency when it comes to how learners make decisions when they are back at work and must combine multiple pieces of information and prioritize their actions in order to apply what they have learned from a training event. As learning providers, we can design our programmes in a way that increases the likelihood of these interdependent factors coming into play to deliver the results in the workplace.

This paper looks at what can influence a learner in the application of their learning to a given work task. Three key parts of the chain that are identified are:

  1. A mastery orientation when it comes to the metacognitive learning activities;
  2. The links between this metacognitive learning approach and knowledge acquisition, skilled performance at the end of the training and self-efficacy;
  3. A belief in themselves to develop as part of the learning process to achieve the end task, which may be similar but not the same as that trained upon.

Starting with Mastery Orientation, which is the learner’s belief that effort can lead to an improvement in outcomes and that the ability in a given area is flexible rather than solely linked to a specific way of doing things. With this approach there is a focus on developing new skills, attempting to understand the context around the task, and then successfully applying a standard by which to measure their achievement. Those who have the Mastery Orientation approach want to develop a rich understanding of task procedures, and are more likely to practice an important skill-related task as often as possible. As HPLJ practitioners, we have opportunities to build on this because we are not so limited by instructor-led training events. By utilizing a learning journey, particularly the Crawl, Walk and Run approach, we can extend our reach and have the opportunity to build on the different levels of foundational knowledge as well as incorporate a varying complexity of skills supported by application and awareness creation within the learner’s own specific working environment.

Metacognition relates to their awareness and understanding of our learners’ own thought processes as they engage in the learning scenarios. That they are not simply following a set of instructions but are building an awareness around their planning, monitoring, and execution of behaviours associated with their objective. We can support our learners to improve upon these aspects by designing assignments that encourage reflection and reporting not only on the outcome of application but also the processes that led to success.

The learning environment must facilitate the use of metacognitive or self-regulatory skills. A key issue in the development and effective use of this learning approach is the opportunity for individuals to engage in self-directed learning. This learner control allows individuals to adjust the instruction to their own needs and the monitoring involved enables them to identify errors in performance, and adjust their learning activities. The idea being that they should acquire more knowledge about the task and develop more effective procedures for performing the task in their working environment.

Certainly, the flexibility offered by the journey approach lends itself to the self-directed learning element. Where they have the material for knowledge foundation and the time to create their own levels of comprehension around the subject matter. The use of additional assignments for them to draw relevance and awareness from their own working environment offers an opportunity to build on their knowledge in such a way that we look not only at a single process but the wider awareness of how it functions within a working environment.

An additional factor related to the Mastery Orientation and Metacognitive approach is the building of a feeling of self-efficacy. The impact of developing a range of new skills, creating an understanding of the relevance of these skills to their work tasks, and then being able to regulate their own performance is that learners show a greater degree of perseverance to carry out the end task in the required manner. The feeling that they have a broader understanding of the subject matter enables them to feel that they have the ability to succeed, when compared to those who only have a procedural way of tackling a problem.

In conclusion, what this suggests to us as learning developers is that we need to incorporate more than just knowledge and skills into our design plans. That in addition to these elements we need to include specific activities and assignments that contribute to the building of a Metacognitive level of awareness and lead to a Mastery Orientation. In this way, we can create a greater likelihood of the learner being able to apply the learning within complex real-life scenarios and demonstrating a greater resilience when facing the difficulties that such situations may bring.


Read the full version of the paper.

To learn more about the High-Performance Learning Journey Approach, click here. 

Applying the Five Types of Use

Author: Alex Brittain-Catlin
Published: October, 21 2019

In their paper: A demonstration of Five Types of Use, Kevin Ford et al, suggest five ways that a training course participant could apply their learning after a program has concluded. These levels look at the application not only immediately after a training has taken place but also over time. One of the main findings is that as Learning and Development professionals, we need to look beyond immediate application when evaluating the complete impact of training.


The five types of transfer that they have identified are:

  • Perform: where there is a direct application of what has been trained, based on the procedures and principles taught.
  • Assess: where the participant uses the standards derived from the program to evaluate their own or other’s performance.
  • Explain: to explain and generate understanding and acceptance of the subject matter held in the training.
  • Instruct: where participants of a program then go on to instruct others how to apply the methods and principles taught.
  • Lead: where former trainees, who are now in a leadership position, promote the ongoing successful application of the learned performance.

The questions that we then need to ask ourselves resulting from this are what are the opportunities for us as program developers in terms of using these criteria in terms of not only evaluating the programs we run but also, what kind of assignments can we create to guide the application of our participants in these criteria.

In terms of utilising these as application and assessment criteria, they fit in well with the Learning Journey approach, which because of its implied length enables us to move beyond immediate application. Whilst immediate application of what has been applied is still a key factor, what other opportunities does the stretching the dimension of time dimension afford us?

Certainly, when we look at assess, this is more straightforward. When it comes to the Learning Journey approach, we are able to instruct participants to assess how a learning is being applied both in terms of their own performance but also that of others. The approach of iterations of feedback to support and further develop approaches is a factor in terms of really integrating changes of behaviour supports this criterion.

The criteria of Explain, Instruct, and even Lead, to some extent, fall squarely into the Core Element of Strengthening Results, where participants go beyond the immediate scope of the program to take spread their learning to audiences who have not participated. When designing programs, we can also use these criteria when looking at Develop and Practice Skills, clearly showing the intent to spread learning as an executable assignment.

Technical advances in supporting how we deliver programs further enables us to engage with participants in a different way and allow us to guide meaningful assignments over a longer period, when necessary.  The current shift from events to journeys and from learning to application also lends itself to a more sustained approach that goes beyond straightforward application type assignments. To that end we can guide participants, through platforms such as Promote, to not only perform but also take into account these other factors of assess, explain, instruct and lead at a time when they have potentially moved beyond the initial confusion about how to internalize a newly learned approach and start thinking beyond this from a wider perspective.

In its simplest form, providing participants with a full list of these five criteria and asking them to self-asses which of these they can apply and then to return to Promote and post reflections and approaches as to how that application went would be a meaningful of drawing more value from a program.

Read more about the paper “Beyond Direct Application as an Indicator of Transfer: A Demonstration of Five Types of Use”.

Download this article as an PDF.

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