Developing a Learning Culture

American Horror Story: Corporate Training

With Halloween fast approaching we can’t help but reflect upon some of the stuff that really scares us– including bad training. Is there anything spookier than wasting time on material that learners will ultimately forget? Probably not. It’s in this sinister spirit that we offer up some of the truly horrifying mistakes that companies make during the training process (and a few quick tips to improve even the most hair-raising of errors).

This is the stuff that keeps us up at night.

Teaching Things People Already Know

A classroom full of disengaged learners is what nightmares are made of, and attempting to teach material they already know is the fastest (and most common) way to cause a lack of interest and inspire a “why am I even here?” attitude. Training should always begin with an assessment and personalization so learners can toggle the stream of information based on their individual foundation of knowledge.

A Lack of Media

It’s the feeling you have when watching a horror movie character run up the stairs instead of out of the house: A boring block of text is the kiss of death for any topic, so why does so much training still revolve around the written word? We believe that media–pictures; animation; video–is the fastest way to get learners to sit up and take notice, all while offering the quickest avenue to total mastery.

Advancement is Predicated Upon a Written Test

When training is a requirement before an employee starts a new role, it just becomes an item on the to-do list. Add in a stressful written test and you have a recipe for employees that cram information without really absorbing it. We agree that it’s important to gauge learners’ grasp on the material, but styling tests as chapter “knowledge checks” is a lot less creepy. Knowledge checks can also pinpoint areas in which a learner might be struggling so, instead of having to reread an entire chapter or retake a long test, a learner can target a specific concept.

Training Could Have Been Done on Learners’ Own Time

At ELM, we think that wasting time is particularly spine-chilling. Why gather learners into a classroom setting when you could have sent out a series of microlearning emails, posted a quick video, or created an online reference guide? Not every topic requires a classroom approach, and if training can be done on learners’ own time, let them take the lead.

Material is Presented in One Continual Stream

We get it: All work and no play make Jack a dull boy. (Just ask our chief learning architect, Jack Mahklouf). Unfortunately, rushing through one continual stream of information reduces how much your learners can actually retain from a training session. Slide after slide of too much data gives learners the signal to check out mentally. Chunking your information in a logical way and offering breaks in between lessons gives learners the chance to conquer key topics before moving onto the next one.

Bad training is downright frightening because it means wasted time, money, resources, and attention. Microlearning, mobile learning applications, information chunking, and knowledge checks can all act as protagonists in the horror story that can sometimes be corporate training. Use the right tools to turn learning zombies into engaged students and you can turn a scary scenario into a success story.