Training Delivery Methods: Selecting the Best

Training delivery methods today travel a full spectrum. On one end, you will see a classroom setting, complete with lecterns, overheads, and handouts. And moving along that spectrum, you will encounter applications on handheld devices with pre- and post-class assessments downloaded from and uploaded to a Cloud-based learning management system (LMS). And while one seems old and tired and the other seems innovative, both have a valid role to play in today’s wide and varied world of L&D.

How do learning leaders determine the best approach – or series of approaches – for their internal customers? We posed those questions for L&D experts at Training 2015 as part of our Learning Insights radio series produced in conjunction with Business RadioX. What we learned may surprise and even inspire you and the work you do.

Playing The Percentages

Look at any L&D department’s ratios of instructor-led training (ILT) vs. eLearning/mobile learning offerings, and you’ll likely find a mix. For Newell-Rubbermaid, the breakdown is roughly 50-50.

“It depends on the work environment of the employee,” said Luana Bannister, training curriculum lead at Newell-Rubbermaid.

UPS call center employees spend most of their training time in the classroom, but there are often elements of blended learning mixed into the training experience. Eight hours of instruction may not be the ideal situation for the instructor or the learner.

“It’s not an ‘either/or’ premise,” said Jason Joines, training project manager, GBS Development Group at UPS. “When you can switch modalities to keep [employees] focused, that helps tremendously.”

“For the future, we’re looking at gamification and trying to bring a little bit more of that into our curricula,” said Jeremy Wallace, content development/corporate project supervisor at UPS. “We’re always in a state of ‘constructive dissatisfaction.’ We want to be constantly improving.”

Verizon Wireless prides itself on being a Green company, and certainly, wireless and mobile technologies play a role in training delivery. However, for new products, services, or initiatives, the classroom is the go-to method for training.

“The leaders and coaches [in the classrooms] can help reinforce the information,” says Florida Starks, area training manager, National Training Delivery for Verizon Wireless. “We exhaust the full breadth of our leaders. They are our first level of trainers, and we allow [employees] to work with their supervisor teams in a lot of training and development activities.”

Crawford & Company’s non-traditional classroom training isn’t just electronic or mobile, it’s virtual. “It’s still ILT, but we have a good system for managing it virtually,” said Bruce Stauf, director of training for Crawford & Company.

Six to seven employees log in from various locations and interact with each other and the instructor over the Web. “They’re getting hands-on, practical application of the technical materials they’ve read on their own,” Stauf said. “We’re getting great feedback from attendees and their managers.”

Learning From Your Learners

UPS employs real-world, real-time experiences with their internal clients to help shape training content.

Joines and other members of the call center training management group participated in live chats with UPS customers during the Christmas rush. “The first four or five were terrifying!” he said. “You feel the customers’ angst. You’ve got to be able to deal with that and help them get their packages.”

Wallace spent six months working in a Panamanian call center to learn more about his internal customers. “We had them listen to their own calls to find what works and what doesn’t. We’re often more critical of ourselves.”

Bannister agrees that it’s important to stay in tune with your audience when developing training and determining the delivery method. “Training that fits into their lives and that they can relate to is more meaningful.”

Assessing, Not Guessing

Pre- and post-training assessments are standard operating procedure in most L&D departments, as are 30-, 60, and 90-day post-learning evaluations.

Crawford & Company’s L&D department talks to supervisory personnel and uses a quality audit team to measure effectiveness.

“The audit team can look at someone who has been through the new hire program and give us feedback on how they’re doing and make comparisons with someone who hasn’t had the training,” Stauf said. “It’s pretty noticeable if someone hasn’t been through the training.”

Verizon uses scorecards for pre- and post-course assessments, but they don’t stop there. “We measure everything! We provide quantitative and qualitative measurements on the entire new hire program,” said Starks. “We have post-training metrics like ‘Given what they learned, how did they apply it?’”

“It’s important to know whether we are creating a sustainable training environment,” Starks continued. “We need to verify what the learning is doing for the employees.”

Our time spent with these learning leaders confirmed that selecting the best training delivery method was highly dependent on the work organization and needs of the business and employees. And these successful businesses demonstrate that their flexibility on delivering training really pays off.

We thank these contributors who shared their insight and expertise for this article by participating in Learning Insights radio interviews during Training 2015. Our contributors’ interviews are part of the Training Delivery Methods Playlist, and you can listen to other learning leader interviews on TrainingPros' Learning Leader Interviews page.
Luana Bannister, Training Curriculum Leader, Newell-Rubbermaid
Jason Joines, Training Project Manager, UPS
Jeremy Wallace, Content Development / Corporate Project Supervisor, UPS
Florida Starks, Area Training Manager, Verizon Wireless
Bruce Stauf, Director of Training, Crawford & Company

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