Need Suggestions for Providing Asynchronous Group Training

I'm curious about whether anyone else is running into the issue of group training online using asynchronous courses. Let me explain.

I develop online training for my company's clients, who are all in the automotive industry and don't spend their days at a computer. There's a lot of mandatory training they have to complete and we offer it asynchronously. However, because of the nature of the industry, it's tough for our clients' employees to sit down individually and complete their training. Our clients want to be able to offer the online training to groups of their employees at a time. That way it's still trackable and the course delivery is consistent (versus when offered as an instructor-led course).

However, as you can imagine, using the courses as they're currently developed doesn't work very well because they're designed for individual interaction (following best practices). I cringe at the thought of developing "plug and play" training just so it can be shown to a group. Has anyone else faced this challenge? If so, how did you handle it? I'd love to hear suggestions about how to provide some sort of group training online without sacrificing the best practices of individual online training.

7 Replies
Saenna B Ahman

Hi there Laura - it sounds like the organization has already taken a good step forward by carving out time for these learners to complete their training. (In my epxerience sometimes a production environment can be a challenge when it comes to elearning, because sitting in a room with a computer is not necessarily considered 'real work' (unforutnately!) by employees who might otherwise be used to doing physical or productive labor all day long) .

It's great that the co. is willing to create a schedule whereby trainees are permitted & encouraged to go to a dedicated learning environment. But I see your point about how the trainign has been desgined as asynchronous, so it could get kind of stilted to try and force people through as a group. (Asynchronous turned synchronous - oh boy!)

So, Maybe you could get away with leveraging your existing course, but adapting it by doing this:

  • Keep the training asynchronous by allowing each employee to complete their trainign independently when they arrive in the training room for their "session" (if there is audio, they will of course need headsets so they don't distrub one another)
  • Have a qualified person in the room to serve as a moderator, but not necessarily a facilitator. This person could be available to answer technical questions about the trainign content, and encourage people as needed. And all the better if that person could be a well-respected production-floor leader. i.e. someone who is highly thought of, and supportive of the learning program.
  • Create a simple wrap-up exercise that the trainees could do as a group when their training time is almost finished. i.e, maybe set aside the final 10 minutes for a quick check-in, where each learner shares their top 2 takeaways, or something like that. Maybe even ask them to share a specific way they can aply what they've learned in the next 7 days.
Ron Price

Hey Laura,

Something to consider is to use the Web Object feature.    For example, you can use the web object to access a group web page or document, like a Wiki or a Google Doc.  Each person can communicate to the rest of the group by adding their thoughts to the page.  The next participant has the benefit of seeing what previous learners have said.  It is not the same as being in the room with each other, but not a bad solution for asynchronous delivery.

Laura Payette

A big part of the challenge is that clients don't want to carve out time for their employees to complete their training. Instead of pulling them from their jobs one by one to complete the individual training, they want to pull 10 people at once and put them all in front of one computer monitor together to "watch" the training. Only it can't really be "watched" because it was designed for individual learners to interact with.

Maybe there is a way to have the manager be the moderator (and clicker on the computer); they would get an extra set of notes/questions to help facilitate some sort of discussion whether throughout or just at the end. I don't know. I think we're going to have to play with some options. It's a less-than-ideal situation, and perhaps I'm approaching it from the wrong angle all together. That's why I put this out there -- hoping someone will have a brilliant suggestion from a different point of view!

April Kitchen

I have some blended learning "presentations" that still involve some interaction when I have the benefit of the instructor.  I generally use the "Notes" pages of the presentation to indicate what I want the facilitator to say/do.  It may require some re-working of the content (since it's currently designed for individual use), but I think as a class they can decide things like what to do next (if you have branching scenarios) or to come to a consensus on questions/challenges that may be in the content.  

You can also pose discussion questions directly in the presentation, and allow the group to discuss before moving on, like "What do you think is the most important safety requirement, and why".  The discussion with peers may actually enhance the learning experience. You can include key points in the Notes for the facilitator to ensure that the proper concepts are touched on. 

Whenever I actually have a facilitator, I look at it as a benefit, and try to incorporate as much peer-to-peer or peer-to-SME interaction as I can. For some topics, this might be a preferable type of learning environment than one between them and a PC. 

Carrie Booth

Laura,

I personally cannot stand watching live webinars in groups, but my school system loves getting folks "around a table" in their building to "do" a webinar. I could not convince them this was a poor model, so I started working with it. What we found was we could build in discussion times around structured questions. We then asked the group to come up with one answer or thought and share at a disclosed time. Polls, chat comments worked nicely.

I have been pondering how this model could switch to asynchronous. Consider building "think about it moments." Deliver content, then pause and ask a challenge, question or something to a group. Then get the group to make a decision. The team can make a decision together and "test" their answer. Before they make the decision, they should talk with one another or "get advice" from some avatars on the screen.  Someone working alone can ask the avatars from the beginning.  If it is an open ended question you could consider using a discussion board or a utrack?

Also, I have seen a couple comments about employers not wanting to "give up" work time to train folks.  I will drill down into this issue. In my case, it is often they don't trust folks will do  the training alone. they worry if they don't see them they might not pay attention.  If this is the case, you build your case for good training by looking for authentic assessments and interactions. Stuff that shows employees are meeting standard. They are less worried if they have true measures of performance, not just asking questions for questions sake at the end....   And the bonus is once you get the authentic measures, can employees who don't need training just prove they know it and move on?

Hope this helps, great question!

cdb