Online Training and e-Coaching Tips

Automating Boring Stuff with Your LMS

March 4, 2013 9:00 by

Scheduling, planning and gathering trainees’ data is like taking out the garbage. You simply have no other option than to do it, or you will hear about it from your significant other. Or, your training sessions will run amok.


Unfortunately, there are no household trash robots yet

Unfortunately, there are no solutions. There is no household robot yet which can stuff your trash in a container and then move the container in the street at the exact right day. (Was this Monday or Tuesday? I always forget.)

But wait! For organizing your training sessions there’s always the option to use a learning management system. A learning management system, or lms, offers several tools to alleviate the boredom of simple administrative tasks. These tools are:

  • User profile
  • Intake form
  • Bulk email

User Profile

Every learning management system that I know offers a user profile where training participants specify their name, title, activities and introduce themselves with a little story. And maybe they even put a portrait online. All in all, this is information that is absolutely not specific to the training they are about to get. Which brings us to the intake form.

Intake Form

The intake form is used to gather data about the trainee which usually pertains to the training. Using an lms means you don’t have to scan, copy and paste or even type in the data yourself. What’s more, if you need to perform a simple statistical analysis (the median age or something like that), most learning management systems support that.

Bulk Email

Data Entry

Tedious manual data entry

Once you’ve collected everybody’s email address (the user profile form has a field for that), you can send out an email message to everybody, or a selected group of training participants. This helps you communicate things like changed schedules and welcoming messages.

Here’s how one training company, Reframe, used the tools mentioned above to remove a lot of tedious paperwork and manual data entry.

Case: Self-Registration for Online Training

Training company Reframe is specialized in aggression management. In preparation of their training sessions, they used to send out paper intake forms to the participants. The data was manually processed.

At some point they started using the learning management system Moodle to put the intake forms online. But they still had a lot of manual operations: registering the training participant as a user in Moodle and adding them to the course containing the online form.

There is, to be sure, always the option to have trainees self-register in Moodle. But this was not deemed secure because anybody who knows the internet address (the “url”) can register, not just trainees.

Also, once a user in Moodle, you still have to enroll in an online training (Moodle can hold multiple online training sessions at once). Reframe is using Moodle for many clients, so self enrollment in an online training was not an option. That would have meant that any client’s trainees would have been able to enroll in the training session for another client (using Moodle’s “enrollment key” would have been a solution for that).

Voucher Based Registration

We created a solution for Reframe based on the concept of vouchers. As a trainee, you get a voucher for a specific course. If you visit the Reframe learning management system for the first time, you use the voucher code to register as a new user. This simply means filling in the user profile form, including the username and password fields.

Once you are registered as a user, you are automatically also enrolled into the correct online training sessions. Needless to say, this saves Reframe employees an enormous amount of time previously spent on peddling data.

Not as great as a household robot but still tremendously useful.

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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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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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