Friday, July 11, 2008

Enviornment: Key to Identifying Learning Solutions?

Learning environment plays a vital role in a training program. Before designing the training, you need to understand the learner's environment or more specifically, the environment in which learning will take place.

Why the fuss?

Imagine this scenario. Your learner is a shop floor manager who will take the course on the computer which is positioned at the reception. He is basically in the middle of the shop floor. He is surrounded by his executives. He may be interrupted every now and then to attend to a customer.

If you design a course that is one hour long, he may not be able to take it at one go. This scenario shows how your design solution should consider all these points. When you analyze the learning environment, you find out the following:
  1. What kind of technology is accessible to my learner?
  2. What factors in the learning environment may distract my learner during the training?
  3. How much time in a day can he/she devote to the training?
  4. Can any factors be used to our advantage during training?
  5. What activities fill my learner's day? Which of these are linked to the training?
  6. Will a mentor (if required) be available at the learning environment?
  7. Is there scope for group-based learning?

If the learning environment is really noisy, it may be a better idea to have a course with little or no audio. If the learner is interrupted every ten to twenty minutes, the design solution can involve either learning nuggets for 5-10 minute duration or a workshop can be conducted in a controlled learning environment.

Pros and Cons of conducting training in the leaner's actual work environment:

  • The learner may be able to relate to the training better when it is in his/her work environment.
  • The learner will have full control over learning. He/she has to take the responsibility of completing the training.
  • Learners may be more comfortable in their own turf.
  • If the course is not designed well, the learner may not finish the course because of work pressures and distractions.
  • It is left to the learner to balance work and learning.
Pros and Cons of conducting training in a controlled learning environment:

  • The learner's attention is focused on the training. He/she has no other option but to learn.
  • The baggage of work is left behind. Mind is free of all work-related worries.
  • Out of sight, Out of mind syndrome: There is a big chance that learner will see this as a 'vacation' from work. Attend session and forget about it.
  • It may seem like we are keeping a gun to their heads and saying LEARN!
  • Learners may be uncomfortable with an alien learning environment.
  • When the learner is sent somewhere (even if it is the conference room) to learn, they may question 'Why?, I am fine where I am.' They may get on the defensive.

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