Many safety pros had been using online training for several years. It’s easier, cheaper, and when it’s live there’s instant feedback. But the COVID-19 pandemic forced many employers into using online safety training that hadn’t done so previously.
The negatives became apparent, too: If it’s prerecorded its not as engaging as being face-to-face. There are tech issues. When slides have too much text, people tend to read instead of listening to the presenter.
Training mistakes happen
Here are the top 5 mistakes of online training:
- Training is too complex. With the technology we now have, we try to take a complex topic and turn it into online training, expecting people to pick up on the subject matter. People have trouble picking things up from just listening and reading.
- There’s no repetition. Repetition helps retention. When we try to repeat concepts online, it seems like we’re just covering the same things over again and over again. Then the audience checks out.
- It’s too long. Some online training is now one, two, even three hours long. Even if it’s live, hours of looking at a screen is too long. When we’re working, it’s normal to have distractions. But in training sessions, there’s an expectation we should be there all the time. It’s difficult for the facilitator, too, to keep engagement levels high. You just don’t have the energy of being together in a room.
- Not thinking about the audience. It’s easy to focus on the subject matter when developing training. But you have to think about your audience, too. They might have distractions. Or maybe they’re not as technologically savvy as they need to be for the training. Example: How many trainees know how to share their screen on a Zoom call?
- Not considering the experience of the audience. When you’re live in a room, you can gauge whether people know some of the material. You can ask preliminary questions, and if they know some of the material, you can skip it. Some online training crams all the information on a topic into one module without any consideration of the audience’s previous experience. It’s a waste of employees’ time to have to sit through that.
Avoiding the mistakes
How do you avoid these mistakes?
- Better training design. Much like planning for a face-to-face session, think about each component of the training. How will the presenter(s) and employees interact?
- Invest resources. For many safety pros, training budgets are limited. However, if the training is essential, if it’s compliance-based, or if it involves life-or-death situations, you need to invest enough resources in it.
- Don’t rush into it. The best way to improve training is to go back and review what you’ve already done. How are we doing? How is the delivery? Ask attendees some in-depth questions about how they’re receiving the information presented in training. Spend more time on a review if you did rush into online training.
(Based on a presentation by Marilyn Hubner, Managing Director, Buildup Research, Melbourne, Australia, at ASSP’s September 2021 conference)