Online Training and e-Coaching Tips

Cut Your Training Session by Half

January 8, 2013 8:08 by

Last month, my wife attended a two day training session. She’s a business analyst for a health insurance company and part of her job is to write requirements for software used company wide. She’s also got a bunch of colleagues with the same title. So, to get everybody to use the same requirement analysis methods, the company had them all trained according to one specific methodology.

Requirements Analysis

Requirements Analysis

Now get this: the entire first day of training was spent on theory. A whole day long, the trainer stood there and explained the theoretical underpinnings of requirements analysis. And no, I don’t think the subject is too light to spend a complete day on. On the contrary, this is probably barely enough.

However, I do take issue with doing the theoretical part of the training during a face-to-face session.

Here’s what the trainer should have done for the benefit of everybody. The trainer included (especially the trainer).

Put the Theoretical Part Online

Put the theory online. This is what a e-learning is for.

Now, I’m not advocating that you put the book online. (There’s always a book, right?) Make it an interactive experience instead. There are numerous options to engage the participant through a learning management system.

For instance, you can still present the theoretical part yourself if you wish, but use a video instead of a live presentation. Divide the  video into subtopics and at the end of each subtopic, present an adaptive test. If the training participant fails the test, don’t just present the same video again, but offer another mode of explanation.

Use the lms to email all participants a case to solve. And then have them submit their solutions to a forum in the lms. Finally, ask them to review each other’s solutions.

Double Your Income

By putting the theory online, the trainer hired by my wife’s company could have literally cut the training session by half.

However, they still could have charged the same rate, because the end result is the same: proficiency in the theory behind requirements analysis. They’re still offering the same value, in other words. And of course the remaining part of the face-to-face training would have been concentrated entirely on practice.

Minimal Art by Keupp

Let’s keep looking for simple solutions

This approach has two benefits:

  1. Because employees can master the theory in their own time, it frees up valuable working time.
  2. The trainer can deliver twice as many training sessions in the same period of time.

Think about that: because you’re offering the same value, you can charge the same rate. And on top of that, you’re able to deliver more training sessions. So, using e-learning doubles your income!


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Blogging as a Marketing Tool

December 19, 2012 14:00 by

Blogging as a marketing tool works if you:

1. Write for a specific audience
2. Create content around a specific search domain (for search engines)
3. Add an actionable item on your site (ask people to do something)

Writing for a specific audience is probably pretty self explanatory. If you’re a trainer specialized in security (you train personnel in stores to deal with violence, robbery, etc.), your audience consists of store owners, and the topic is security.

securitySo, in each post, hand out some useful piece of advice. For instance, dedicate a post to mystery visits (this is something you do as a paid service). Keep in mind that this is not a sales post. Just tell the store owner that they can also ask a friend or relative to visit the store as a “shoplifter” to find out what part of security needs improvement.

Creating content for search engines means: put in all relevant keywords for your specialization. Of course, readability for the actual “human” reader should take prevalence.

Okay, suppose you’ve done an excellent job on SEO (search engine optimization) and your audience highly values your posts. Now you’ve got to ask them, in each post, to take some action, like signing up for your mailing list (email news letter).

You can also directly ask them to sign up for that security training, but that’s less likely to work. Your “brand” usually takes to time settle in for each particular site visitor.

When you’re starting a new round of training session, or you’ve designed a new training, tell people about it through your mailing list.

To summarize: blogging is for generating leads who you subsequently reach through email.

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Pros and Cons of Online Training

December 10, 2012 12:14 by

Some time ago, there was an interesting discussion among the members on a Linkedin group called Learning, Education and Training Professionals Group. The topic was: “Do you prefer traditional classroom training or Elearning – Virtual Classrooms?”


A not so virtual classroom

Now, I know that most trainers and coaches have a problem with the terms learning and classroom (as in: “those words do not pertain to my job”), but I still think you’ll find the discussion interesting. Many training companies already use e-learning and virtual classrooms, they just call them differently.

And to put you completely at ease, I’ll rephrase the question.

Do you prefer traditional face-to-face training sessions or online training?

Sandra lists a number of reasons to use online training.

Although the classes I teach at the university are all face-to-face, most of the learning I deliver via my business is online. I do, of course provide face-to-face training if requested by my client.

The reason I decided to offer online learning for business and government clients are as follows:

  1. Flexibility- Participants can go online any time, any where.
  2. Practice Over Time- A program lasts 2.5 months reinforcing learning and new concepts.
  3. Saves time and money-Participants don’t have to rush to get work done before and after a seminar or workshop. As well, they don’t have to spend travel time.
  4. Personalized approach to learning- It can accommodate one-to-one feedback.

These are just some of the reasons why I chose to offer online learning in my business. As well, we have had a 95% completion rate of assignments.

Darren talks about where control over the process should reside.

Having done some practical research into helping teachers transfer their skills from physical to virtual classrooms I’ve found that teachers will initially be uncomfortable with the loss of control they perceive in virtual classrooms, e.g. “I can’t see the students – how do I know they are paying attention?” “how can I cope with people talking and texting at the same time?”. Hence they will prefer the comfort zone of the physical space they are used to. With time and practice however these problems can be overcome, and the tools built into virtual classrooms such as interactive whiteboards and student response systems can be very effective in engaging students and generating the feedback required to monitor progress regardless of the lack of eye contact.

On the subject of student engagement, perhaps the question of preference needs to be put to the students instead? For example, students who are less outspoken or confident about expressing their views may be intimidated in a traditional classroom setting but become more engaged through the text/chat facility offered in virtual classrooms.

Gary addresses a problem he has faced with fraud:

I’ve been following this subject for some time now and find all the comments made extremely interesting. One thing that I’m still unsure of, however, is the subject of fraud. Online training and CBT in general does open up the door for this area of immorality which I see extremely difficult to control. I have personal experience of this issue in the following circumstances: an organisation declares a certain CBT training package to be mandatory; those targeted have insufficient operational time and or motivation to complete the training and, thus, provide their log-on details to a colleague performing dedicated office-bound duties and they, the latter, completes the mandatory training on the formers behalf.

Hans mentions better participation as pro for “classic” e-learning. Interestingly, he contrasts e-learning with virtual classrooms:

In a classroom training, as in synchronized virtual classrooms, students are often inclined to leave interaction to others and hide themselves in a group. The classic e-learning (on demand) enforces students to answer questions correctly before continuing. Therefore I believe that the involvement is sometimes (!) higher in e-learning (you have to answer the question yourself, you can’t sit back and trust another student to answer this one).

Bob cites an intrinsic advantage of computer based learning: you can repeat as much as you like.

This is a great topic. At one time people fell into two camps, standup and online learning. I see a few who like the blended approach. I do too.

In 1997 IBM produced a series of online courses using streaming audio and video, and I played a role in that.

We had 500K students and I collected data from a good subset of that populations. I could scarcely call on a customer that had not taken the courses.

I found that many of them had taken the “classes” up to 10 times. When I asked why they would do that, they invariably said they replayed it until they “got it”.

There is no Instructor that can endure repeating themselves 10 times, and the other students would revolt if you were to do that. As we all know peer pressure comes into play in classroom settings. Here, they were alone; no one knew they did not get it the first 9 times. The machine had no opinion on the matter; it would play it all day and night.

Blended Approach

I’m with Bob: I prefer the blended approach. Or I would if I were a trainer or a coach. In the e-learning industry, they call it “blended learning” and it simply means: a mix of traditional training methods and online training or e-coaching.


In some learning management systems (lms), you have the option to schedule face-to-face training sessions.

But over time, face-to-face sessions could change somewhat as a result of mixing in online training sessions. For instance, if you ask trainees to provide some background information in their online profile (which they fill out in the lms), you can shorten the introduction round. You know, tell wordy people to keep it short by pointing out that the other participants can always read their online profile.

Another option is to present a case in an online discussion group (e.g. a forum) and make it an assignment to post feedback. This ensures everybody’s on the same page when you first meet and also gives you more time to do things like role playing, acting out scenes of the case.

Because that’s what the blended approach is all about: saving time by preparing training activities online so you can get to the essence in face-to-face sessions.

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