In 2016, the “learning transfer“ was number one among the top ten educational management topics. On the other hand, according to a trend survey on corporate learning conducted by the “Swiss Centre for Innovations in Learning“ learning professionals in the corporate field are very concerned about this issue. It is a fact: the more conducive a training or development course is to practical implementation, the higher the return on investment, and the more efficient and productive the measures launched by HR. It is thus more than understandable that this topic is on the minds of learning professionals.
How to create learning designs for learning transfer?
In my view, the point in supporting practical implementation is, above all, to offer trainings which cater to the actual needs and a trainee’s working environment. This can only be successful, if, in addition to classroom sessions, study and work units are planned and carried out. How successful a training will be is determined during the course of analyzing the need for training. In doing so, it is crucial for the learning professionals to basically understand their clients’ business, to know the medium-term challenges the business is facing, and to sit down with the clients and translate those into competencies and educational objectives. If those objectives are clear and smart, a design actively supporting practical implementation can be developed.
When we discuss learning designs with a highly practical relevance we actually mean blended learning approaches. Prior to classroom work there should be a (virtual) kick-off to introduce participants to the main objectives and subject matter covered as well as to assign some preparatory work. From kick-off until class work begins participants should engage in independent studies to acquire knowledge specific to the course. In addition, there will be an individual project, ideally to be discussed with the executive before the training course begins. This will establish a link between everyday business and training. During the introductory briefing between participant and executive the focus is on indivdual expectations and learning objectives.
Learning professionals should take trainers up on their promise.
During the course, trainers are above all responsible for supporting the practical use value of the subject matter covered in class. On one hand, the trainer achieves this by developing the subject matter based on the participants’ actual business experiences and challenges. This is followed by a practical approach and a subsequent reflection on a meta level. This procedure will – as a side effect – build the participants’ methodological competence. Also, in the process, the trainer should encourage and support participants to engage in self-reflection to allow each participant to develop individual goals to apply in practice. Furthermore, the trainer can actively use methods like peer advisory with respect to specific professional cases, as this course uses specific issues from the participants’ working environment. Generally, both the ones presenting a specific case and their advising peers gain important insights and solutions – a key condition for practice-oriented learning. From my perspective as a trainer, I can say that participants are very grateful if they get some hints and recommendations during the training as to how they can put concepts to work in practice and how to modify their behaviour specifically. Finally, a trainer should introduce learning partnerships as a method to ensure that participants support one another during class work in attaining their study objectives. Ideally, the learning professional as client should clearly state what they expect from a trainer with respect to methods and measures to facilitate practical implementation.
Suggestions? Crticism? I look forward to your feedback.