Chasing a Moving Target – “Near-task” Training Activities

One of the things we try to do with our training initiatives is keep the activities as near to the tasks required for learners’ jobs as possible.  Of course we also want to be training space to be a place where it’s safe to make errors .  And frequently we want to make the thinking process of learners visible to leadership in the organization, so that future training can address the issues which often come to light when communicating with people in the front line. That there is an essential tension among these goals makes the life of instructional designers um, interesting!

Sometimes we learn after the fact that our prioritization hasn’t been ideal.  Recently, we helped design  a sales training course for an organization which was also in the midst of implementing a new customer relationship management system.   Our call planning course featured reviews of the plans with the learner’s managers,  a pretty natural near-to-job task.  But asking the learners to post their plans to an assignment activity in our platform was not well-received.  Learners felt that having to learn to use the training platform software while also learning the CRM software (and of course, keeping up with their normal responsibilities!) was onerous.  And since they were already in pretty close contact with their managers, going to this alternative online place to communicate with people they were on the phone with daily seemed to them like added busywork.

We probably could have done a better job of making clear to the learners that part of the reason for the structuring of the task was to provide visibility on their learning to senior management.

Alternatively, had the timing for the course been different, say, for after the CRM system had been in place for a while, it might have made sense to post those plans to the CRM, on which, of course, learners and managers both have visibility.

In future iterations of the course,  we probably will move some of the activities directly into the CRM. (Fortunately, we can track the completion of activities even when they happen somewhere other than our platform!)

Have the job tasks faced by your learners moved closer or farther away from the training activities they do?  Is it time to re-assess how close you are these days to your various moving targets?