Ongoing training is vital for employee development and organizational growth.

    In fact, research by Middlesex University’s Work Based Learning program found that out of 4,300 workers, 74% believed they were not achieving their full potential at work due to a lack of development opportunities.

    This is no surprise, given statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor, which reports that organizations with 100 to 500 employees provided only six minutes of manager training every six months. And companies with fewer than 100 employees offered only 12 minutes of training.

    But training isn’t just a nice “perk” to have. It is absolutely critical for organizational development and success.

    Not only will employees become more efficient and productive when trained, but investing in retaining and developing present employees pays off. After all, the cost of retaining employees is much less than the cost of actually replacing them.

    Paying Attention and Ignoring Distractions

    communication technology mobile phone high tech concept. Happy man using texting on smartphone social media application icons flying out of cellphone isolated grey wall background. 4g data plan

    With the abundance of digital technology and today’s vast number of distractions, how can organizations help students pay attention, concentrate and shut out diversions?

    There’s no question that smartphones and tablets offer many opportunities to enrich learning via collaboration and connection. However, these devices are extremely distracting and can make it an ongoing challenge to stay on task and concentrate.

    According to Daniel Goleman, psychologist and author of Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence, “Attention is under siege more than it has ever been in human history. We have more distractions than ever before, and we have to be more focused on cultivating the skills of attention.”

    So what’s the best approach to keep students engaged?

    The answer is to focus on what students actually consider valuable. In other words, what they think is important in learning: keeping it brief, keeping it real and asking lots of questions. For example, hands-on labs emulate the way humans are meant to learn—by doing. Hands-on labs are a safe and secure replica of an organization’s platform for students to practice on. By incorporating realistic, hands-on exercises into a course, students become high performers in a shorter period of time.

    Keep training content brief and concise

    Adults have very short attention spans.

    In fact, according to a study from Microsoft, people now lose concentration after only eight seconds, which highlights how today’s digital world is affecting our brain function.

    Gold fish in water inside an electric light bulbGoldfish: According to a study by TIME, goldfishes have a 9-second attention span.
    Which beats humans' 8-second attention span, according to a study by Microsoft.

    In the study, researchers in Canada surveyed 2,000 participants and studied the brain activity of 112 others using electroencephalograms (EEGs). The study found that since the year 2000—about when the digital revolution began to spread across the developing world—an adult’s average attention span fell from 12 seconds to 8 seconds.

    With so much information out there, it is imperative to keep content short and bite-sized. In place of spending one to two hours on just one topic, instructors should deliver concise and interesting material to accommodate students’ attention spans.

    Teaching content in 7- to 15-minute segments, with breaks for hands-on exercises or group discussions, can be beneficial in several ways, including re-energizing the classroom by changing the pace and rhythm; keeping students on their toes by not providing opportunities for students to check their e-mails or messages; and helping instructors cover curriculum that can be covered in 7-15 minutes—and not any lot longer.

    Instructors should avoid long periods of lecture and try to get their point across as succinctly as possible. Because student attention tends to drop after 15 minutes of non-stop lecture, try setting a timer that reminds you to change your “class mode” every 15 minutes. Instructors should change activities consistently, moving between lectures, demonstrations, virtual training labs, discussions, and Q & As.

    The bottom line is that today's employees only have 1% of their entire week to dedicate to professional development, according to Deloitte research. That’s only 24 minutes a week or 4.8 minutes a day that can be allotted for training in a typical 40-hour workweek. So you must make every moment count.

    Keep training content real

    People learn from experience. This includes real scenarios, real issues, real challenges and real consequences. The more relevant and realistic the training context, the easier it will be for students to transfer skills and knowledge onto the job.

    This is the premise behind simulation-based learning. Simulation is a technique to replace and strengthen real experiences with guided ones that tend to be immersive in nature. The experiences evoke or replicate aspects of the real world in a fully interactive manner.

    In this method, real-life or close-to-real-life problems or challenges are simulated in a classroom environment or actual job environment. Students are asked to perform their actual job task in a monitored environment. This offers a risk-free setting where students are able to learn from mistakes.

    ReadyTech’s virtual training labs embrace the simulation-based training method.  These labs provide training environments that allow students to practice with the software in a realistic environment, while also engaging with the instructor. They are vital in creating realistic, hands-on exercises that give students the training they need to be comfortable in a real-world setting.

    Learn more about ReadyTech's virtual training labs.

    While virtual training labs provide hands-on practice that help students feel comfortable using new software, virtual classrooms offer many interactive teaching tools, such as Whiteboards and Breakout Groups. These create an interactive and relevant learning experience for students. In addition, instructors can share their desktop with students and demo how to use software, as well as give students the opportunity to practice using virtual training labs.

    Training without a virtual training lab creates a passive learning experience for students. By adding virtual training labs, students are able to learn by doing--improving classroom engagement and knowledge retention.

    Ask lots of questions

    Young teacher in classroom standing in front of class

    Questions are among the most powerful teaching tools. Asking questions can assess students’ knowledge, promote comprehension, and stimulate critical thinking. Well-crafted questions lead to new insights, generate discussion and encourage exploration.

    By asking targeted questions, instructors can make information relevant and meaningful to students. And this translates into successful on-the-job performance.

    In fact, according to former GE CEO Jack Welch, leaders can accurately assess an employee’s passion “by the intensity of their questions. If their questions are thoughtful, they are the right person for the job.”

    That’s why ReadyTech’s polls, surveys, quizzes, exams and chats are so important.

    For example, ReadyTech’s tools allow instructors to build interactive quizzes and tests that gauge how well students are doing. A short quiz at the end of a lecture can reinforce the lecture’s concepts and help instructors identify the students who need help.

    ReadyTech’s Polls allows instructors to collect opinions anonymously and have the option to share the results with the class. Polls are a great way to engage students and start discussions about a topic or get aggregated feedback on the training program and improve it as needed.

    And with ReadyTech’s Surveys, instructors can ask students to complete questionnaires that provide insights into their backgrounds and training expectations, what they thought about the class, and assess student satisfaction levels before, during and after class.

    There’s no question that employees want—and need—professional training that is relevant to their jobs. And it is the responsibility of training departments and instructors to develop an interesting and appropriate training curriculum to help employees excel at their jobs. The key is to make every moment of training count.

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