Tuesday, October 12, 2010

From virtual classroom to workshop and back

I'm getting so busy that blogging gets harder (if I want to have some off computer time too!). I guess the good thing is that I can imagine it is the last thing on your list in a hectic job. Since I blogged in Dutch about our most recent trajectory about social media that started online (on the NVO2 blog- interesting new initiative for Dutch people interested in HRD) I thought it would be an easy quick win to translate it in English.
Evert Pruis had blogged about the fact that only 20% of the training efforts lead to results.
This ressonates with my personal experiences, the reason why I follow very little training and formal education, as I learn more from experience. I like doing new things and working together with people from a different background. But I strongly believe that the effect of a training can increased by starting online.

Together with two other trainers I'm in the middle of a half year trajectory for organizations to learn to use social media to achieve their missions. We train and support an international group of organisations from countries in Africa, Europe, Asia and South America. We have chosen to start with a skype talk, then first three weeks online training followed by a week in the Netherlands. Currently we are in the coaching phase. I am very excited about our approach to start online and was very proud when a participant talked about 'our four weeks training'. That's really how people should perceive it, not as one week with some online fuzz beforehand. Some advantages I see:

- Because we started online, people could easily invite colleagues to join us. Hence, we had 65 people online, compared with 15 in the face-to-face week. What we see is that those who attended the face-to-face training are more active online now than the others. Nevertheless there is an enthusiastic fellow who is very interested and doing the face-to-face exercises too.

- Practicing a number of tools (like Skype) is easier at a distance. At a distance you can really exercise. This would also apply to exercises with different behavior in the workplace, that would be easier to guide online than in a training. On the other hand the twitter exercise did not seem to make a lot of sense from a distance. Seeing twitter at work and being able to ask all kind of questions made it much easier to grasp.

- The first day was very funny, you know each other already quite well! The group dynamic is very different as a result; people are far less occupied with group dynamics and with their place in the group. The atmosphere was immediately

- Online there is plenty of room for everyone to talk. If you ask a question, anyone can respond. Face-to-face, there are many people and airtime is limited. Online offers the potential to make knowledge and experience of the various participants much more visible. One participant had many interesting experiences to share, which was highly visible online. Face-to-face this was much less visible.DSC05197

- And last but not least, the learner is three weeks long in the "driver's seat. Online you can click away and skip anything, face-to-face it is rude not to listen. This culture also entered the training room. When people were interested in a presentation, they would even stand up and come close, in the opposite case, people would start multitasking (hard to avoid when you have your computer in front of you..). The online training made participants start their thought process.

This sure sounds like there are nothing but benefits. Yet I would not start with online exchange in every training. It takes a lot of time and attention from the trainers, it was wonderful to do this with three trainers but would be exhausting for a single trainer. The added value is difficult to visualize. Thus, I am convinced that people are better capable of linking what they learn to their own situation, because the thought process started online. However, this could also be achieved by an early intake conversation.

Do you know of any proper studies done to compare training with and without online components?

No comments: