It is frustrating when our IT software skills hold us back. Technology should be helping us but in reality, to the untrained user, it can often be the cause of stress, anger and a drop in confidence.
Simple tasks take longer and documents don’t deliver the best functionality or presentation. We risk inaccuracies in the data and information we are trying to get across. It’s a triple whammy on our productivity.
Leaving IT skills acquisition to chance is a false economy. It leads to people feeling they haven’t been invested in nor that they matter much.
There are several ways that IT User training can be delivered to improve skills, confidence and productivity. Here are five ways, with pros and cons. I’ve put them in order with the best option for Learner Engagement, Admin Impact and Budget cost at the top, but which way works best for you?
1. On-demand library
A wide variety of pre-recorded, pre-prepared and regularly updated short, sharp online mini lessons with ‘show me how’ videos is a cost effective, on-hand library, available when needed. With quality, consistency and format assured, this option is superior to Google searches and avoids wading through mixed quality content, adverts, You Tube videos and other distractions. That’s if the company firewall will allow You Tube access at all. User progress can be tracked and, for larger companies, analytics supplied. Courses can be re-done and referred back to.
- Users can be accountable for their own learning.
- Good quality, short bursts of learning is available 24/7, only in topics required and at the point of need.
- Very cost effective vs. attending onsite or offsite face to face training.
- Pre-recorded content means there is no-one to ask specific questions of.
- Use of the library, and therefore knowledge and skills uptake, is left up to individuals.
- Some users may struggle with the self-directed study method and prefer face to face tutoring.
2. Live Webinars
With bespoke content agreed in advance to reflect what your training needs analysis highlights, a closed company live webinar could be the answer. Webinars can be scheduled in advance as one-off events or a programmed as a series of modules that learners register for this is another cost effective way to deliver the topics you need to whoever needs them.
- Registration means you can track take up and you can have more people on the webinar than a room will hold.
- It’s live so people can ask questions or seek clarification from the tutor there and then.
- A scheduled programme advertised encourages learners to be proactive and accountable for their own learning.
- Requires some administration resource to set up and arrange.
- There might not be enough interest to have every topic covered so not everyone might be able to benefit.
- The fact it’s an event taking place on a specific date might mean some people miss it owing to other commitments, holiday, sickness etc.
3. Onsite one to one clinics
Nothing says we care about your learning like a completely individualised, one to one, learning opportunity. Couple that with an opportunity to discuss specific documents and learn how to overcome training issues and you have a big hit on productivity too.
- Specific documents can be fixed or improved immediately.
- Users will feel listened to and invested in and can ask specific questions, check their understanding and be sure they are doing it right.
- Shorter one to one sessions mean that a wide variety of topics can be covered in a pragmatic way than if everyone was attending at the same time.
- People attending without giving it a lot of thought won’t maximise the value.
- Anyone missing their session would have to wait for another time, a delay in them getting the information they need and a duplicate cost.
- Requires administration resource to set up and arrange for trainer, schedule and timings plus room booking.
4. Onsite courses
Traditionally this was how it worked – a trainer would be booked to visit the company premises and take a group of learners through a pre-planned course. Sometimes there is a little flexibility in what can be covered. You may have the skills in-house to deliver but be warned a knowledgeable employee does not necessarily make a great trainer!
- Users will appreciate having some training without having to travel elsewhere.
- Questions can be asked of the trainer and they can check that it is being done correctly
- It is possible to shape the outline for the day or examples documents to make it fit the overarching training needs or type of documents the business uses.
- Training doesn’t always happen when it’s needed, it can be missed due to work commitments and has a productivity impact whilst being undertaken
- Training like this usually covers more than what is needed for each person, content gets forgotten, not everything is relevant, attention waivers and it’s expensive to run
- Requires administration resource to set up and arrange popular date for learners, for trainer, schedule and timings plus room booking and possible overnight accommodation.
5. Open courses
When there are only one or two people requiring training attending an open course can be useful. Often they will supply the computers pre-loaded with exercises and provide post course support for a period of time. If these are held locally that is a bonus.
- It may be that a course can be found sooner rather than later and a user can have some training support, even if they have to travel for it and it’s pricier.
- There is an opportunity to learn from different attendees about other ways of doing things.
- Costs more than an onsite courses or clinics and much more expensive than webinars or on demand library options.
- There will be no influence over content, exercises will most likely be pre-prepped examples so no option to work on own company documents. You wouldn’t necessarily want to share these in an open forum anyway.
- There is no say in the timetabling or availability of such open events and they are on the decline, so can be pulled at the last minute owing to low attendees.