Skill development requires intensive interaction, and typically involves one-on-one coaching. Therefore, moving this training online requires a different approach and different tools. E-learning tools, while effective at enabling knowledge acquisition, are woefully inadequate for the task. Good news! There are powerful immersive technologies that effectively move skill development online. In this article, we’ll explore them.
This article was originally published in Life Science Trainers & Educators Network’s (LTEN) Focus Magazine.
Pulling training concepts through to the workplace is a challenge, particularly in leadership, coaching, and sales. Why? Because workers may “know” the concepts taught but lack the skill and the confidence to use them, once they’re back on the job. So, nothing changes.
Developing skills, particularly these soft skills, requires a different approach. Trainees don’t want to risk failure by trying something new in real situations. That’s where practice comes in. Roles plays at the end of a training session are a start, but they’re not comprehensive enough, nor do they provide the reinforcement weeks after training to drive behavior changes.
Why all the interest in simulation for training? Because it has the potential to solve a big problem:
Enable professionals to effectively learn how to use their training knowledge, in real situations, to change their behavior and improve their performance.
We know that one-on-one mentoring and coaching works, but it’s time intensive and doesn’t scale. Simulation technology can serve as a cost-effective surrogate to solve this vexing problem.
Do you wish you could measure where your learners struggle with applying their training in real-world situations? Wouldn’t that data be invaluable when considering additional or follow-up programs? Many of your L&D colleagues have the same wish. In this post, you will learn how you can actually obtain this data while substantially boosting the efficacy of your training programs.
How do we know what we know? It’s because we construct mental models that interrelate information in a sensible way, that we can test and refine with our experience. Learning requires that we assemble a new mental model, or integrate it into one we already have. These models can be completely wrong, flawed, suboptimal; or emulate the mental models of experts. Yikes! It seems we should care about mental models!
The mental models a learner constructs can directly impact the rate at which they achieve optimal performance, if at all. Let’s dive in...
Humans are still the best pattern-recognition machines on the planet! (At least for now.) Yes, we have suffered losses to man-made machine, in Jeopardy, chess, and recently the game Go. But we recognize complex patterns in everyday life and transform them into actionable steps, in ways that machines cannot.
What’s our secret? Cognitive Flexibility. This trait allows us to diagnose, design, and problem-solve in highly unstructured situations where “rules” do not yet exist.
So, if we humans are so good at this cognitive flexibility thing, how can we use it to develop more effective learning programs?
Think for a moment about someone you know that is an expert at something. They could be great at their job, defusing conflicts, or managing their health. Now think about how they do it, and how you would build a program to help others achieve better performance in that area. Pretty challenging, right? Why is it so hard?
Does realism really matter in training? The short answer is... yes.
Realism is essential when the goal is to create virtual learning environments to transfer knowledge from the classroom or an e-learning program to real-world behaviors. Two cognitive science concepts provide the underpinnings for why experiential realism improves knowledge transfer.
Why do so many e-learning programs focus on acquiring knowledge and then afterwards, expect learners to master the knowledge transfer to practical situations on their own? That’s like offering a course on flying a plane and then expecting learners to climb into a plane and take off.
What’s missing? Well, it’s an enormously important part of the learning process: skill acquisition. This is the skill to apply learned knowledge in fluid, real-world situations, and make more optimal decisions. This skill-building process – the flight simulator – is the critical part!