Integrating OJT and E-Learning

How have you combined or incorporated On the Job Training programs with your e-Learning? 

Our New Hire Orientation is a 6-10 week process with 2-4 weeks of instruction and classroom orientation (we are phasing e-learning into this) and the remainder of the weeks are on the job training with a "mentor". 

I'm trying to consider creative ways to integrate the two. 

3 Replies
Steve Flowers

I think these methods are perfect bedfellows. We've done some looking at these combinations as well and there are several lenses with which you might look at the situation:

1) The lens of strengths. What are the strengths of each method? For example, your mentors are probably great at providing feedback and answering good questions. So how could you use an eLearning component or other medium to help the mentee ask better questions and engage in richer conversations? On the flip side, what is eLearning good for that (while the mentor might be good, it might not be the best way to leverage him or her) a mentor might not be well suited for? Maybe answering foundational questions and being *ready* to be mentored. 

2) The lens of weaknesses. What are the limitations of your typical new employee? How can you tool around those weaknesses with support elements to help scaffold for success? Is there a complex concept that the employee might encounter before they have someone there to help?

3) The lens of time. Your mentor can't be with your mentee all of the time. So how can you leverage the other tools to maximize their development time when they can't get feedback from their peers? Also, how can you help the stuff the mentor provides to *stick*? It's daunting to be a new person to a new organization. So many things to take in. I saw this poster earlier today and think it's a clever way to look at things: http://boxesandarrows.com/files/banda/are-your-users-s-t-u/bna-areyourusersstupid.pdf. Here's the article that goes along with the poster.

4) The lens of place. Is the new employee going to be in a predictable place at a particular point in time? Maybe there's a way to put a "museum tour" style module where the employee uses the tool to guide themselves around the place / space and get a virtual but real tour of the place. Maybe it's better to provide a virtual tour of a space *before* the employee ever sees the real thing. 

5) The lens of friends. How do classmates and peers figure into all of this. Is there an activity that you can use to drive folks to work together? Self-paced components always seem so lonely to me. How nice could it be to setup a real-world crossover that starts independent and grows into a conversation.

6) The lens of practice. eLearning components can provide great opportunities for self-assessment, testing, practice testing, and task practice for covert (cognitive and perceptual cognitive) skills. Where does the participant need the most safe practice? 

7) The lens of skills. I think this is a big one, especially for the early parts of the experience. One of the things I think we miss -- A LOT -- when making method selections is a sense of the big picture. If we're not breaking down our accomplishments to tasks, we don't really have a map to build the accomplishment. If we don't break our tasks down to the contributing skills, I argue that we don't really know what we need to train. I like to say "support the task, train the skill". This implies that task support (training wheels) that include references and orientations might be really useful for the novice and apprentice but we still need to focus energy developing the skills that enable task performance.

There are plenty of ways you might levy lenses. Lenses of cooperation, competition, balance (how can we make everyone more evenly prepared when they get to this milestone?), feedback (can we use an eLearning component exclusively as feedback?), familiarization (you could setup a component for reference that folks could use at any time), story (just a bunch of videos of other employees describing their own work story). Tons of exciting ways to find a place

One of the other ways I've looked at blending components is by setting up a ramp over time. Along this ramp were milestones. Each milestone was the start of something new. These starts defined where we wanted folks to be in their skill journey. These were readiness markers. This journey helped to visualize where we might insert a nudge or practice opportunity along the journey.

This stuff is really quite a lot of fun. Much better than LMS "one and done" modules and courses.  I'm envious

Carin Wilson

Wow, Steve!  I can't thank you enough for the effort and information you put into this answer.  I really appreciate the concept of various 'lenses" as a planning and process tool for this project.  

The poster you included about "Stupid/Smart" users what great!  Sharing that, as soon as I finish this response. 

You know, I was looking at this as a "get started right away" kind of deal, but it would be much more proactive to use your suggested approach with milestones and ramping it up over time.  

I will definitely be using your response as a reference throughout.  Thank you very much.