I visited a military training school last week. They were hosting an open day to demonstrate a wireless Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) that they had developed and installed. It was all excellent stuff – seemingly the way forward for access to learning materials both during but also crucially outside of the working day. This access away from the traditional classroom environment was enabling trainees to reinforce their own learning in their own time.
Whilst I spent time understanding more about the VLE they had created my mind kept turning to what benefits we could gain for training evaluation by exploiting the Virtual Learning Environment technology.
These were the 6 potential benefits that I scribbled down during the day:
1. Enabling Pre-Assessment before arrival at the training environment.
Allowing people to complete a pre-assessment via a VLE before they even arrive at the training event can be incredibly useful. Understanding the areas that your future trainees are already competent in, or perhaps more importantly the areas they are not, can help guide future instruction.
This proactive pre-engagement can really help improve the training experience, rather than simply banging out the same lessons irrespective of the audience.
2. Avoiding arriving at the training environment altogether.
It maybe that certain training packages can be conducted via a Virtual Learning Environment without even going to a traditional training environment. The training could be conducted at home at a time that suits the individual employee – resulting in financial savings by eliminating travel costs.
Of course, it may be that only some elements of a particular training package could be delivered this way but this still has the potential to reduce the time spent in a traditional training environment. Reduced overheads and improved employee flexibility could still be benefits of using the VLE. Perhaps you could then reallocate any resources that are saved towards conducing some effective training evaluation.
3. Capturing student thoughts on the training they are receiving.
You would need to incorporate this wisely but you can create electronic gateways on the VLE that students have to pass through (and complete) before they progress to other areas of learning. This could be a great opportunity to gather some data on how they are finding the training – classic training evaluation at level 1 stuff.
4. Delivering formative & Summative assessment.
Using the gateway technique described above you can incorporate assessments on the Virtual Learning Environment that the student must complete. You can also generate summary reports which will show at a glance how your students are progressing through the various assessments.
Having this level 2 training evaluation data easily accessible in an electronic format maybe very useful for any subsequent training evaluation reports that you produce. Read my previous post for an explanation of formative and summative assessment if you want to learn more about each type.
5. Facilitating post training feedback.
As part of the sign-up process to the Virtual Learning Environment those undergoing training will need to provide some contact details. Part of this will be an e-mail address. By introducing the appropriate authorisation from individual users you could then contact them with requests for them to complete post training surveys. These surveys would be hosted on a VLE and you could also include some documentation that might help refresh the students on the training they have received. Gathering data on how the participants feel they have been able to operate differently as a result of the training will start to move you into training evaluation at level 3.
6. Increasing the levels of training transfer.
Because the Virtual Learning Environment extends beyond the training environment it can then be used to deliver follow-up materials and techniques to help increase the level of training transfer into the workplace.
As well as hosting follow-up materials for those who have received the training it could also include resources for line management that guide them on the contribution they need to make to ensure the greatest return on investment possible is achieved from the training that has been delivered.
Can you think of any other ways a VLE could be used to deliver training evaluation?
These are my initial thoughts but I’m going to continue to ponder. Does anyone else have any suggestions on how a Virtual Learning Environment could be used to support training evaluation? Are you already using a VLE to help evaluate your training?
It would be very interesting to hear your thoughts in the comments below….