Online Training and e-Coaching Tips

Online Trainers: Bas van Kollenburg – 40% Less Theory with LMS Moodle

December 14, 2015 9:05 by

Bas van Kollenburg is the owner of two training companies, both very practice oriented, but otherwise totally unrelated. Soterios provides first aid courses, while Fantasea Divers is all about diving instructions. Read on to find out how Bas cut back on his theory lessons by at least 40%.

Years ago, Bas relied on books and videos to convey the theory behind his training. But above all, Bas had his trainees sit through hours of class room instruction before they started practicing. As you can imagine, this was no fun for first aid practitioners, nor for divers.

But then Bas found out about Moodle, the most widely used learning management system (lms). Ever since, he has been using lms Moodle to cut back on class room based theory lessons. Instead, his trainees log in to lms Moodle where they read pdf documents online, but also take online tests.

For some types of training, Bas uses these online tests as a “semi” requirement for access to his classes. One week before the actual class starts, he skims through the results of the online tests in lms Moodle. Everyone who has not completed their test yet, receives a reminder message.

Many of his online first aid courses – the theoretical part of it – are freely accessible. These online courses also serve as marketing material for his class room based courses. After all, you cannot realistically provide first aid without having had some practice in a class first.

Bas has also reorganized his diving instructions around lms Moodle. Here, it’s byod: bring your own device. Trainees access the diving theory presented in lms Moodle through a variety of devices, such as tablets and smart phones. Because these lessons are definitely not freely accessible, Bas hands out ‘course keys’ to his trainees. Each key gives you access to a specific course. In this way, Bas controls who gets to see what exactly.

All in all, Bas has managed to cut back on presenting boring theoretical lessons by at least 40%. He’d like to do even more with Moodle, but he’s facing time and regulatory restrictions (for instance, for his diving classes he has to hand out a book to each trainee). Nevertheless, as a trainer, he gets to do much more of the fun stuff, compared to ‘the old days’. His courses are now, in the words of Elvis Presley, a little less conversation, a little more exercise.

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10 Things All Trainers Should Avoid Like The Plague

November 16, 2015 9:09 by

For the sake of your trainees, your company and ultimately yourself, don’t do the following ten things:

Photo credit: Andrej Chudy, published under CC.

Photo credit: Andrej Chudy, published under CC.

  1. Don’t schedule an entire workweek. No company’s going to let their employees be away from work for the entire week. Space out the training over the course of a month or even two months, if you have to.
  2. Don’t let yourself be tricked into stuffing a three day training course’s content into one day. Precisely for the reason stated above, management may pressure you to condense the training. Don’t give in to the pressure! Propose the same solution as just mentioned, i.e. deliver the training over multiple weeks, or have your participants do some of the preparation online, through an online training platform (e.g. a learning management system).
  3. Don’t ever think your participants have nothing to teach you. A participant may know more about a particular topic than you. In that case, ask the participant something along the lines of “So Dave, what’s your opinion on this topic?” Also use this opportunity to create some interaction with the group: “Does anybody have any additional questions for Dave?” (Assuming Dave is open to that kind of thing.)
  4. This one should be obvious to all trainers, but just to be sure: Don’t just repeat the textbook. Instead, adjust your presentation to your customer’s needs – and the real-time response of your participants! Involve them by asking for their own experiences. See how your training can be implemented on the job – their job. In short: teach less, facilitate more.
  5. Avoid scheduling the edges of the workweek. Monday mornings and Friday afternoons may not be the best times of the week for your training. On Mondays, many people are still mentally engaged elsewhere. On Fridays, they’re looking ahead at the weekend.

    Photo credit: Rowan Heuvel, published under CC.

    Photo credit: Rowan Heuvel, published under CC.

  6. Don’t dress too casually or too formally. Try to figure out what your audience is like in advance and adapt your style of dressing to theirs.
  7. Avoid too much seat time. Get everybody on their feet every once in a while to keep them engaged.
  8. Don’t keep your participants isolated. For many professionals, a training session presents a chance to do some networking. Help them a little bit by having everybody introduce themselves. Or have everyone edit their profile and upload their picture in your online training platform, in advance of the training session.
  9. Avoid running over time. Keep a bit of spare time at the end of the training session for discussion and informal drinks, coffee or tea.
  10. Don’t come unprepared. You don’t have to script every joke, but participants know it when you improvise too much.

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Are You a Credible Trainer?

November 2, 2015 15:37 by
Photo credit: davide ragusa, published under CC.

Photo credit: davide ragusa, published under CC.

If you have ever had participants questioning your credibility as a trainer then you’re not alone. I was once criticized for my awful handwriting on the blackboard (yeah, this was twenty years ago, when I was an assistant at university) – my students assumed that I was not skillful in other areas either.

And here’s an example from Joel Graff, an engineer and veteran trainer: “I once had to ‘train’ guys with 10-25 years experience (largely for paperwork reasons). Word got back to me before class that a lot of them were pretty negative about it.”

How he solved the situation? He told them:

“Rather than stand up here and bore you with several hours of lecture, we’re going to do it a bit differently. You guys are going to teach me. We’re going to talk about all the usual stuff, but I want to get your perspective on what works, what doesn’t, and what’s just plain stupid. What you say matters. This is how policies are developed and how they get changed. So, I really need your participation.”

In other words, he gave the floor to the in-house SMEs (subject matter experts). Here are a few more strategies to cope with (potential) credibility issues.

Strategies to Cope with Credibility Issues

  • Get accreditation. This may help you get a foot in the door, but no guarantees that veteran employees will take you seriously.


    Photo credit: Colton Brown, published under CC.

  • Try to involve participants as early as possible, asking them: “What do you expect from the training? What skills would you like to master?”
  • Move away from fields you’re not actually experienced in if you believe that only people with hands on experience should be trainers.
  • Acknowledge that you don’t know everything. Park difficult questions by writing them on the blackboard and promise to get back get to them. Or pass these questions on to the SMEs (Subject Matter Expert). In the words of Claudine Hawthorne-Lindo: “Thank God for e-mail and Communicator where immediate contact can be made with SMEs to provide prompt feedback (during the session) to participants! Participants have left the sessions feeling very satisfied with the materials covered, thanked me for the excellent delivery, provided very good/excellent feedback to surveys and are better able to perform the tasks required as a result of the training.”
  • Enlist the help of SME (Subject Matter Experts) who are held in high esteem within the organization.
  • You know all about training, so train the trainer. Create part-time trainers out of SMEs. Ceferino Jr. Dulay provides an excellent example: “An approach I took was to train SMEs and hit two birds with one stone- develop an organized thinking framework and ability to lead and communicate by designing and delivering training courses for the rest of the workforce. It worked quite well and in only a short time, we had a large group of part-time technical trainers and an equal number of technical courses covering every part of the operations of the business units. And these trainers also became coaches in the workplace. I got the same result when I conducted a similar technical trainers training with a large plant operation after my retirement. Absolutely no question of credibility here.”
  • Create an environment where continuous learning and training is taking place. Facilitate mentoring roles for SMEs. Have participants exchange best practices, even after the training (through a wiki, an LMS, or an online training platform).

Photo credit: Martin Wessely, published under CC.

The conclusion here is that trainers don’t necessarily have to know everything, or even have relevant experience in the field. If you can orchestrate the acquisition of knowledge and skills to further the goals of the company, then your credibility is established by measuring and reporting the progress employees are making – with your help.

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