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Have you done any great workplace training lately? If you are struggling to think of a recent experience where you actually learned something, you’re not alone.
Even before we were forced to pivot to virtual training experiences, a lot of workplace training was falling short of expectations.
We recently asked people to tell us about learning needs in the housing and homelessness sector. Of the 80+ responses we received, many people told us that opportunities for relevant training are rare, especially during this past year when technology resources were lacking and staff have been overworked. They reported that when training was available to them, it often didn’t meet staff needs. Even with high quality training, there is no guarantee it will have the intended impact.
Learning transfer relies on learners choosing to take action after the training event. If they do nothing, or not enough, learning transfer does not happen, and the training has failed. (Training Industry Blog, 2020)
It’s a familiar scenario, you complete a training session or return from a conference eager to put new ideas into practice. After a couple of weeks (or a couple of days) your motivation has drained away and you are back to doing things as you were before. It’s hard to sustain your commitment to new approaches without support.
There are many potential reasons that training fails to have lasting impact. Researchers who study learning effectiveness, suggest there are 3 main areas that can have an impact on learning transfer: the learner, the learning design and the organization. (Weinbauer Heidl, 2016)
Motivation to Learn
Learners who have a positive attitude and are motivated to learn are more likely to retain and apply new knowledge and skills. Right now, we are all missing the engagement of in-person experiences that just can’t be replicated in a virtual environment. We often leave Zoom sessions exhausted with little support to apply our new knowledge and/or skills.
Effective training provides participants with active learning paired with concise lessons that focus on one idea at a time. We know about the learning curve, but did you know there is also a forgetting curve? In order to remember something we have learned, we have to move it into our long term memory. It’s better to space learning over time, rather than trying to take in too much information at once. This means we want to avoid the information dump where too much content is given to us at one time. By taking in new knowledge in smaller chunks, it’s easier to make sense of, organize and remember it.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Training should also include opportunities for practice and feedback or self reflection. Practice is necessary for learning transfer and retention. Effective training includes some form of project-based learning. These learning activities give you a chance to apply what you are learning. If the training doesn’t include opportunities to practice, find ways to challenge yourself to apply what you’ve learned in the real world. You’ll learn from experience and remember it.
In the year since we re-launched the Homelessness Learning Hub (HLHub), the response to our new resources and trainings have been positive. Still, many frontline staff haven’t checked them out yet. HLHub training materials are free, short, and accessible. You can make use of them to fit your needs. HLHub trainings are designed specifically for the housing and homelessness sector, so you can apply what you learn directly to your work.
“It has been a valuable resource. It is user friendly, informative, and up to date.” (HLHub survey respondent, 2021).
HLHub trainings are self-paced which means you can start them immediately and progress at your own speed. But, there can be a few drawbacks to self-paced learning. For instance, people feel they miss out on the opportunity to share experiences and connect with peers.
With a little creativity, you can create a social learning experience using the trainings on the HLHub.
Start by creating your own, informal, learning group.
You and a co-worker or small peer group can go through the training together. Decide on a timeframe to complete each section and meet up for a virtual coffee chat to discuss what you’ve learned. Share ideas of how you might put your learnings into practice - having a commitment to the group will also help increase accountability to complete the training!
Use collaborative tool to document ideas
It can be helpful to create a space to collect and share ideas as you go through the lessons. Set up a simple shared document in Google, Dropbox or another online collaboration tool to curate solutions to work-related problems. You could also use a group messaging app to discuss challenges and post questions for the group. If you use a message app, you might want to create a separate group or channel just for the training to keep discussions organized.
There are many benefits to social learning. Studies have also found that when you learn something new, you can improve learning retention by talking about with someone else. The 50/50 rule suggests that you aim to spend about half your time learning and the other half talking about what you have learned for best results.
- Use a shared google doc to create simple reflection questions and a place to collect ideas.
- Bring questions to other groups and use them as icebreakers and warm ups for meetings.
How do you use the training resources on the HLHub in your organization? We'd love to hear from you. Email Karen or tag us tell us on social media by tagging @HomelessHub and use the hashtag #HLHub.
The Homelessness Learning Hub helps you build capacity
The Homelessness Learning Hub has hundreds of resources to support your professional development including online training on the topics you care most about. Our online trainings are free and self-paced which helps you fit them into your busy schedule to meet your learning goals.
Tony Bates, Learning Theories and Online Learning. Tony Bates Blog, 2014. https://www.tonybates.ca/2014/07/29/learning-theories-and-online-learning/
Dr. Ina Weinbauer-Heidl, 2016. What Makes Training Really Work: 12 Levers Of Transfer Effectiveness. https://www.transfereffectiveness.com/levers-of-transfer-effectiveness