Online Training and e-Coaching Tips

3 Tips For Increased Follow-up Training

July 1, 2014 9:05 by

poles_beachAs a trainer you can show your effectiveness by measuring the skill level before and after the training. But how do you make sure that the skills acquired in a training are actually applied in the workplace? This is also known as the issue of transfer of training. Follow-up training addresses this issue.

Every organization that provides training for employees does so because it recognizes the need to improve employees’ results. Trainers are therefore tasked to improve the workforce’s skills, knowledge and, ultimately, behavior. However, humans are creatures of habit. To change behavior, a single training does not cut it.

Instead, a training should be followed up by various reinforcement strategies. In addition to the traditional follow-up training, to which we will return shortly, we can now apply technology to reinforce the trained skills and knowledge:

  • Mini interventions: summarizing emails and pop quizzes suitable for mobile learning.
  • Peer-to-peer discussions through internet forum, stimulated by the trainer and workplace mentors.
  • Online training serving as a refresher – learning management systems are suitable for this purpose.

But clearly, increased follow-up training would be best. So, how do you signal the need for follow-up training to the organization?

  1. Conduct formal tests at regular (e.g. yearly) intervals
  2. Hand out certificates
  3. Utilize competency management


Conduct Formal Tests

Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk via:, cc

Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk via:, cc

To decide whether an individual employee needs follow-up training at all, you may decide to conduct a formal test, e.g. once a year. If trainees “tests out”, fine, they don’t have to do the refresher. In most learning management systems (lms for short), this is facilitated in some way. In lms Moodle, for instance, you can can enroll trainees into an online training session (called a ‘course’ in Moodle) which simply contains the test. If they pass the test, then another course, which contains the meat and potatoes of the actual training, is considered complete. Otherwise, they have to complete the actual training once more.

The use of regular formal testing saves the company on unnecessary retraining. It establishes trust in the trainers involved and thus increases the chance that trainers are hired for other training sessions. In a roundabout way, as a trainer you get to deliver more follow-up training (for those other training sessions).

If there is currently no follow-up training at all, then introducing formal testing is an excellent way to ensure reinforcement of training.

Hand Out Certificates

Certificates are best used when you already know that follow-up training is absolutely required. This may the be case to meet regulatory requirements (‘compliance training’). Hand out certificates with an explicit expiry date. Alert all personnel involved when the expiry date approaches.

How do you create certificates? In the same way as a mail merge: put the data (trainee’s name, name of the training, expiration date) in a database (e.g. MS Access) or spreadsheet and link up your Word Processor to either one of those. Then perform a mail merge with an appropriately formatted template.

An alternative is to use the certification options in an lms. In lms Moodle, for instance, there is a certificate module available which allows users to download their own certificate (as a pdf document) once they have completed the training session.

Certificates implicitly carry the assumption that an employees skills and knowledge may get obsolete over time. For example, whenever the content of the training changes to mirror ever evolving best practices on the work floor, a certificate is an instrument to ensure that everybody receives retraining before their skills and knowledge are completely outdated.

However, in situations where the nothing much changes, it may be more practical to just perform the formal tests as mentioned above and only retrain if employees are found lacking in relevant areas.

Utilize Competency Management

lifeboatsCompetency management maps the organization’s goals to the skills required in the workforce. For example, if a company addresses a new market, they may need to hire new personnel, or retraining existing employees. If done properly, competency management also identifies the organization’s training requirements, even if only indirectly.

Therefore, trainers should demand access to competency management software (if used at all) in the organization. At the very least they should talk regularly (i.e. once a year at minimum) with management about the direction the organization is heading for. The outcome of these talks should be a list of new training sessions. But it should also be clear where follow-up training is needed. For example, if a company decides to pay more attention to customer service, then a follow-up training in that field may be rescheduled to take place earlier.


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e-Learning for Trainers and Coaches

November 12, 2012 22:58 by

When I was at a lunch party last month, I had a conversation with a trainer. He asked me what I do for a living and I said: “Well, something very related to what you do, I develop e-learning solutions for trainers and coaches”.

The Boating Party Lunch

See that muscled guy to the left, casually leaning backwards? That’s not me.

And I was shocked to hear him respond: “No, we don’t do e-learning. That’s for transferring knowledge, and we’re focused on transferring skills.”

In his mind, e-learning was something for educational institutions, having to do with studying. But in reality e-learning is so much broader than that. Many large training companies already know this, and many hrm departments also use e-learning on a daily basis. We know this because these companies are customers using our e-learning services.

So in this post I want to show you what you can do with e-learning to move part of your daily work as a trainer online for fun and for profit. And by profit I mean: recurring billing as an additional source of revenue.

Stop Hauling Around Those Binders, Books and Forms

Do you carry around all your reference materials, sheets and forms to each of your training sessions? Each piece of paper multiplied by the number of participants?

Stop doing that. Just put your intake forms, smile sheets and evaluation forms on your website. You’ve got a website, right? If you’re worried that somebody might steal it, just put it on Google Drive (used to be called Google Docs). If you don’t have one already, create a Google account (if you’re using gmail you’ve already got one) and log in. In the top menu bar, you’ll see the option Drive. Go there and upload all your documents.

Now, Google Drive lets you share your documents with the people you select. As an added bonus, Google Drive also lets you edit the documents online so you can keep them fresh without having to copy, redistribute or even upload them again. Just remember to select the “read only” option if you’re sharing the documents with your trainees.

Google Drive

Google Drive

And by the way, sharing is very easy in Google Drive: just hit the share button and add email addresses. The only downside is that people need a Google account to log in to see your training materials (but not right away, you can send the invitation for sharing to their regular email address). The upside is that you can share all materials before your first training session actually starts!

Also, think of all the time and costs you’ll save on copying, binding, and distributing your training reference materials.

The Real Benefits of e-Learning

A good e-learning platform facilitates the distribution of reference materials, intake forms and smile sheets even better than the Google Drive solution we talked about above. But e-Learning really shines when employed for improving transfer of training.

The transfer of training problem poses the following question, originally formulated on

Why is it that such a small proportion of training ends up being used back in the workplace?

You can use an e-learning platform as a transfer toolkit to encourage trainees to actually use their newly acquired skills in the workplace. e-Learning platforms are also known as learning management systems (the commonly used acronym is lms). A learning management system is actually an online computer program behind a login system (i.e. it requires a username and password).

A learning management system usually does three things for trainers and coaches. Three distinct benefits of a learning management system are:

  • saves cost on organizing and distributing training materials (your books, binders and sheets)
  • alleviates your administrative tasks (planning sessions, assigning trainers to sessions, inviting trainees)
  • supports online training sessions, consisting of videos, assessments or training activities

We’ve already discussed the first benefit, and the second (pertaining to administration) should be pretty self explanatory. But what about the third? What does an online training session look like?

What is an Online Training Session?

An online training session could be used to introduce the participants of a face-to-face session to each other. Have each participant create an online profile, containing a picture, their (relevant) interests and skills and maybe their goals for the training. If people know a little bit about each other beforehand, they’ll connect that much easier (this is especially true for the introverts).

My Nerdy Profile in Moodle

My nerdy profile in lms Moodle

You could also present a case which is then discussed during the actual face-to-face session. If your training includes checklists, put the checklist in the lms and make it interactive. If your sessions include self evaluation forms, put the form in the lms and make it interactive. You get the idea.

A final note on online training sessions: yes, you can also put instructional material online (think videos), immediately followed by tests. You can even create adaptive learning materials, which adapt to the skill level of the trainee.

Now you’ve got a rough outline of what a learning management system does for trainers and coaches. So let’s move on to some tips for enhancing transfer of training with a learning management system. After that, we’re ready to tackle your additional source of revenue, as I promised in the introduction to this post.

Learning Management System as a Transfer Toolkit

We’re finally back to improving transfer of training. Some of the “traditional” tools for that are:

  • Reminder cards
  • Checklists for tasks on a mouse pad
  • Mnemonics on mugs

We now know about e-learning platforms, or learning management systems (lms for short). So we can easily envision using a lms to put these traditional tools online. Well, not the mug, but the information imprinted on it.

But why not take it one step further? Suppose you’re delivering a training on presentations. When giving a presentation, the quality comes down to preparation. So as a coach, you’ve created a checklist and a form your trainees are supposed to use. The form has a field for each item on the checklist . The participant has to fill out the form to show what they did to prepare the item on the checklist.

Using a lms, you put the checklist and the form online. During training, participants are required to use the online checklist and the form. What did you just do?

You have created a reusable, interactive tool for transfer. You see, participants in your training session can just as easily use the form and the checklist in the workplace. Preparing for a presentation during a training and ever thereafter in the workplace has now become the same thing.

Paper Form

But wait, I hear you object, how’s this different from providing a paper form and checklist? Well, you won’t know if these have actually been put to use in the workplace. You’d have to make phone calls, maybe even visit the customer and interview employees to find out for sure.

The learning management system, by contrast, can be set up to send you a warning if your transfer tool is never used. And if all goes well and your forms are being put to use, you can check the contents every now and then, through the lms, see if the quality of the input is up to standards.

The Profit Part of e-Learning for Trainers and Coaches

Of course, if you can lookup the results of the transfer toolkit at any time, so can the customer. The customer will be satisfied to know that their personnel is using their newly acquired skill set according to specs. They will also be happy to know that you continue to keep a close eye on the training results as well. Effectively, the training never stops after the face-to-face sessions are over.

All in all, you provide so much added value that you can afford to send monthly bills for the continued use of the learning management platform.

But the real profit is the customer’s because they now have a clear indication all their training investments are well spent.

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