SMEs Insist on "Check the Box" Compliance Training

Hi all!  I started learning about e-learning about a year ago and have been able to find so many answers to my questions just by searching the resources on this site.  Wow!  What a resource!  Because of this forum, I've not had to post much, although I just read a post indicating that it's an excellent way to build visiblity. 

I need your (collectively - all of you!!  :)) help!

I work for a company as a classroom instructor and elearning developer.  Because we have employees all over the world, we are going to more online training.  I have successfully developed & released about 10 courses with lots of positive feedback.

I was assigned and very excited to develop a course about our company's safety management systems manual (even though I knew the SMEs have a history of not getting along together and seeing eye-to-eye).  The manual  includes lots of information about the regulations, legalities, piles of forms, etc.  The exciting part was being able to convey to the employees why they needed to know about the system, how they fit in the system, and how they can use the information to report incidents and to be safe at work & home by learning from other's accidents/near misses.

I've worked with the SMEs (VP & managers) to try to help them understand that the course needs to be interesting to the student.  They agree with their comments but not with their actions.  We've met several times, mapped out the course, I completed a drafted course, submitted it to the SMEs, they said they liked how engaging and geared towards the student that  it was BUT that they basically want the manual read to the users.  In other words, they want to "check the box" for compliance training.  The SMEs sent me a Power Point with 31 slides containing approximately 5 - 30 bulleted items per slide and want all the information read to the users along with a quiz at the end to "ensure" complete comprehension...

My thoughts:

  • Split the course into three sessions so that it's not so overwhelming for the student.  I have now changed gears and am drafting currently using the 3-tab template so that it looks more like a book.
  • Put some videos on post-it note type hyperlinks.

Where I'm stuck:

  1. I really don't want to read a list of 30 items for one slide with a few images.  The SMEs don't want me walking the employees through scenarios, they just want the information told to the student.  This goes against everything I've learned!
  2. So much of the information that's being asked to present is really about how the system is managed (which most users won't care about).

I would appreciate any suggestions/help.  I have been so impressed with all of your creative solutions & look forward to your responses.  :)

10 Replies
Jeffrey Kelly

I just completed a project involving the Legal Team, and put simply, I know how you feel.  I turned an 8 slide PPT into a 45 slide PPT, because each slide was absolutely covered in information.

I find simple, powerful slides will out against clutter, even when you are intructed to work verbatim.  Do not allow more than 5 bullets a slide.

I recommend smaller, easier to digest courses, or Coursels if you will.  I tell the SMEs that people begin to zone out after about 15 minutes if they are not actively engaged in the material, so no course should be longer than 20 minutes.  Possibly the management information can be placed in its own presentation, and you can compare/contrast the styles with the other "more fun" presentation(s) to the SMEs.

Sheila Bulthuis

Wendy –

If they’re really insisting on the manual being presented verbatim, one option might be to do exactly that – instead of translating the info onto slides, why not have the learners access the manual itself, either as an attachment or link to wherever it actually resides?  This has a couple of benefits (in addition to being less frustrating for you!):  If learners are expected to actually reference the manual on the job, it gets them used to doing that.  And it ensures that when future learners take the course a month or a year after you develop it, they’re always seeing the most recent manual info.

If the manual is really overwhelming, maybe you could use the “course” as a guide through the manual – for each manual section, have something in the course that gives an overview, then direct them to the manual for the details.

Hopefully, you can use the quiz to incorporate some of the scenarios you already built.  This could meet the SMEs’ requirement for a test while still making sure the learners are getting at least a little sense of how the info is applicable to them/applies to the “real world.”  (And of course a scenario-based quiz has the benefit of being a better measure of whether the employees truly understand the info!)

Good luck!

Sheila

Dawn Mahoney

Hi Wendy-- A few thoughts come to mind... First, is there a specific legal, regulatory or written compliance reason that the info has to be put in front of the learners and read to them? If so, knowing exactly what that is and how it is worded is part of the answer to your plight. And of course, what is the actual purpose for this training/learning? is it to actually have the learners prove they know the material and can implement solutions? Or, is a legal/compliance/regulatory need to say, "yep we did it, don't sue us"?

Distance Learning methods can be employed in a variety of ways and don't have to necessarily be "point and click" e-learning. For example, provide the learners with a written copy of the material in their primary language. Then follow that up with digital testing/quizzes and quests on your LMS, or equivalent compliance tracking tool. Another type of blended learning approach.

If you're stuck with the dry content positioned as you describe, what about also using a Blog or Wiki-type of environment? Meaning, a place where you could (asynchronously) post situations where the learners can post their solutions, responses and questions for others to help them work through. You, or whoever is the moderator, then has the opportunity to weigh in on responses and add info to make sure it meets all compliance criteria.

And I know time is always an issue in corporate life but... having two groups each completing one version or the other, then testing them for knowledge and understanding immediately and again some time later (to see whether there is brain drain). When testing, be sure the material/questions include scenario/situation sections that utilize the learners' cognitive mode, not just True/False and A, B, C, D=none of the above objective test questions. Be sure to ask the learners to articulate their learning experience in the evaluation phase. Then share the results with those who are "nay-saying" an updated version of this learning intervention.  

Be careful with situations where learners have to both read the screen and listen to narrative. Cognitive overload might be your best discussion tool w/the SMEs--reduces retention of the information, difficult and sometimes confusing for visual and tactile/kinesthetic learners,  and all of the reasons you're likely HIGHLY aware of. 

OK, this response got long. Sorry for that. If you want more info or clarification - just ask!

David Barnes

This is a political problem not an elearning design problem. Your VPs and managers want a boring course. They probably don't want to think very much about it and just want something that covers their backsides and that they never need to have on their mind ever again.

You've made 10 successful courses already. Let the 11th be a dud and move onto the 12th as quickly as you can!

Wendy A

Thank you so much for all of your input.  As I read your posts and explored futher threads through the Articulate community, inspiration struck.  (A quick aside @ David - You nailed it!!) I could not get past the idea that the training still has to be geared towards the student.  So...

I decided to divide the training into three sessions (hopefully giving the student a sense of accomplishment & better retention) and have already completed the first session, loving the transition from "Mission Impossible" to "Mission Acompished!"  The training is a blend of disussing the information, a video, images directly relating to our business, and sending the student to the sources to locate specific information.  I presented to one SME (who is really excellent at getting buy in from the others) and they really liked it.  The remaining SMEs will receive a preview next week.

Thank you again!  Have a great weekend!!

Laura Fochtmann

If you've figured out a way to make mandatory compliance training engaging, I'm impressed!!!

We have a whole slew of state mandates that we have to fulfill each year.  As an enduser who's heard basically the same info for the last 15+ years, I don't really want to hear it again since I have yet to have needed 95% of the information.  (For example, in the state mandated infection control course we have to learn every method for sterilizing various items for different infectious agents, even though the hospital does all of the sterilizing.)   My goal is to fulfill the mandate and take/pass the (bogus T/F) test with the absolute least amount of time imaginable.   I've now gotten it down so that I can get through each "course" along with the test in ~10 min.  If I had to sit through several sessions instead, I don't think I'd be happy no matter how well done it was.

So a minimalistic approach that the student can quickly skip over may actually be gearing it towards the student.

Or maybe I'm just old and cynical....

Zician Leo

Wendy G said:

Thank you so much for all of your input.  As I read your posts and explored futher threads through the Articulate community, inspiration struck.  (A quick aside @ David - You nailed it!!) I could not get past the idea that the training still has to be geared towards the student.  So...

I decided to divide the training into three sessions (hopefully giving the student a sense of accomplishment & better retention) and have already completed the first session, loving the transition from "Mission Impossible" to "Mission Acompished!"  The training is a blend of disussing the information, a video, images directly relating to our business, and sending the student to the sources to locate specific information.  I presented to one SME (who is really excellent at getting buy in from the others) and they really liked it.  The remaining SMEs will receive a preview next week.

Thank you again!  Have a great weekend!!


Hi Wendy,

Like Laura said - well done on figuring out a way of making compliance training exciting I just thought I'd let you know - I'm a full-time instructional designer and my main project at work at the moment is 100% compliance related (yay for me :P)

So if you never need some tips or anything (even if you'd just like some feedback on the stuff you've done) you're more than welcome to msg me :) I'd be happy to help out, if I can. 

Once again, congrats and hope it goes well!

Philip Lima

Wendy,

I deal a lot with this same issue in the financial compliance industry.  "The information must be displayed exactly as it was supplied.  No deviation."  What I have done is tried to make the templates used for each course as new and as different as I can.  Maybe, something set up to look like the GPS navigation screen of a car, etc. 

One of the ways I have included interaction is by presenting students with multiple choice or true and false questions before bringing them to the information they must view.  If they get the answer correct, they are rewarded with a pop-up that might say "Excellent.  Let's take a look at that in greater detail."  If they get it wrong, the pop-up might say, "Sorry that was not correct.  Let's review the regulation on that now."  Makes them feel a little more involved and reduces stains on shirts and blouses from the stupor induced drooling that can occur from a "read-and-click" CBT. 

When all else fails, I'm with David.  Just punch it out fast and get it behind you. 

David Barnes

I just posted this as a new threat but you should definitely check it out. It's one very successful way that Compliance Training can be made interesting:

http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/141/made-to-stick-the-power-of-razzle-dazzle.html

Includes funny video, SFW.

You probably won't be allowed to copy this approach but you could at least share it with your SMEs and give them a good laugh, and something to think about.