eLearning for Large Scale System Change

Mar 26, 2013

Our next project is training for a large scale company wide system upgrade. Our users are very dependent on the software that will be replaced and several departments will need to learn their job anew. Any suggestions on how to use eLearning to increase adoption and comprehension of the new software?

9 Replies
Daniel Brigham

Well, your work life is sure to get interesting in the next few months.

Some specific things: if you've got Storyline, you could take advantage of the screen recording tool, especially the try and view modes. Elearning was made for software training, so you are fortunate there.

General things: maybe create some relatively quick lessons around why the change is being done? Elearning (or perhaps more specifically e-information) modules can be good reminder (a good overview) of a subject.

More general things: get people higher up cheerleading this change before anything happens. Have the higher ups also cheerlead for any e-learning. If employees don't see management supporting change efforts (which is what e-learning is), they might not take it that seriously.

Jill Martine

I think Daniel's suggestions are spot on. I'd also mention that I've seen eLearning efforts that focus too much on the old way, the old toolbars, the old processes, etc. It may be important for you to compare and contrast some of the main features, but if you get too focused on the old way, it can confuse learners and keep them from buying in to the new way.

For the screen recordings, provide real-world scenarios as much as possible. Many software simulations focus on a walk-through of every single feature rather than letting the learner practice actual tasks.

Hope your project goes well!

Lincoln Guy

Thanks for the responses Daniel and Jill. From what I hear there will be 80 + processes I'll need to develop training for. My initial thoughts are to use a blended approach of eLearning to demo the process and then hands on practice in class. I've had success with that in the past but never with so many topics. What are some of the risks to consider? For example, would the class burnout sitting through so much eLearning even if it is enhanced with scenarios?

Daniel Brigham

I'd suggest you start practicing your deep breathing exercises now, Lincoln.

But a bit more seriously...as far as which medium to develop the training, I'd ask "what medium better replicates the actual environment in which they are going to do task X?" Of course, you can't always train using the actual environment and e-learning can sort of replicate environments you might not think it would be able to (say a commercial kitchen, for instance), but the question might be a useful guide.

If the e-learning is good, your learners will tolerate it (who knows, maybe even appreciate it). Just think of how much "so-so" instructor-led training you are forced to sit through.

john faulkes

One more piece of political advice Lincoln...arguably just a version of the excellent advice above, but:

Attempt as much as possible to agree the objectives and outcomes of your learning pieces with senior managers, but save as much accountability for detailed design as possible, for yourself.

On the other hand, distance yourself as much as possible from accountability for actually getting people to take and get through the training. Senior managers should take this on.

Holly MacDonald

Lincoln - do you have someone handling the change management portion? What you are talking about usually needs a comprehensive plan that includes training and communication, like a marketing campaign (I call it a Learning Campaign). There are books written about this.

If your focus is on the training piece for user adoption, then you need to make sure (in my opinion anyway), that you have both training and performance support in place. Regardless of how you deliver it, having everyone "attend" training is only part of the challenge. You already know that 80 processes is a lot. Don't think that you have to have a single monolithic approach.

Think about the following:

  • What do they need to be able to do when the system goes Live? What 3-5 things would you train on?
  • How could you bundle your training for performance support? Could you have a weekly push notification that directs users to a process that they learned before the system launched? Like a refresher. Timeline your system roll-out and parse the training on a schedule.
  • What are the trickiest things that you anticipate they'll stumble one? Create modules for that.
  • What are the tasks that are really critical?
  • What are the tasks that are complex?
  • What are the tasks that they aren't going to do very frequently?

These types of questions should help you create an instructional package that'll support the learners both on learning the system and USING the system.

I hope that helps?


Meridith Litton

Lincoln - A blended approach works well.  However, keep the elearning and the try-it labs separate.  We did the same project as you are doing beginning 2 years ago, though we only ended up with about 35 elearning modules with the rest being workshops.  Access ot the labs depended on completing the elearning.  In that way, the student has had time to reflect on the new process before jumping in and trying it out.  Keep the elearning short (10 to 15 minutes); think about chunking the new material.  as an example, don't teach the full procure/receive/pay function in one lesson.  Teach how to order a piece of merchandise in one lesson.  Then, teach how to receive that merchandise in another lesson, etc.

Joe Deegan's comment about job aids is extremely important.  The new user will be able to remember some or most of an activity, but they may not remember all of an activity.  Step-by-step job aids are very useful.  Unfortunately, we didn't build any screen recordings due to time and resource constraints, but should have done so.

Holly McDonald's comment is also extremely important.  Change Management must be integrated in the training and the roll-out of the new system.  Hopefully, you or the company has developed a fairly detailed training plan that includes not only the training approach and validation but also the change management methods that will bring the employees into the new system with a sense of acceptance.

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