While current global circumstances are accelerating the adoption of digital and distance learning, one thing that remains true in the area of training and organizational development is that no matter what learning methods you are advocating for your organization, setting and achieving a measurable competency target should always be part of your success criteria. Keeping in mind that a more skilled workforce raises the productivity and competitiveness of a business, the success of a training and development program is more often directly measured by whether or not an organization has reached, or maintained, a target competency goal.
Many of our customers have long been looking at their company’s training programs in this way. They constantly review the business requirements for their employees’ knowledge and skillsets and link those requirements to a competency target. For industries where software solutions are central to their business, many are looking to software providers’ certification programs as the outcome of learning, while adopting a blend of digital and expert guided learning to help them get there.
There are several elements to consider when setting up the competency target and blended learning path.
Instructor-Led Training Offers Huge Value
Traditionally, when many of us think of instructor-led training, we have a mental picture of a physical or virtual classroom where learners congregate, physically or virtually, led by a supervisor, an expert teacher or instructor, through a specific set of topics within specified times, and where learning can take place uninterrupted by outside distractions.
AspenTech has a long history of offering instructor-led training courses. The feedback we receive from customers about the value that our instructors add to our courses is powerful. Focused, expert guidance, when combined with group interaction within a classroom (physical or virtual), enhances learning experience and accelerates training outcomes.
While many find expert-led, structured learning invaluable, in today’s volatile environment, for learners to pre-commit a block of time (sometimes days) to attend a class at a fixed schedule uninterrupted is becoming formidable by itself. Many of them are the frontline responders to their day to day operations and run time-sensitive projects.
So where is the happy medium where we retain the power of the expert-led training but provide the schedule flexibility?
At AspenTech, we have recently rolled out online instructor-led courses to allow self-paced learning scheduled through a combination of live instruction, eLearning, hands-on practices and interactive discussion boards.
Problem Solving and Guided Peer-to-Peer Discussion
For many customers in our industry, learning the advanced features and functionalities of a software product can be essential in applying the digital solution successfully. But most of our customers feel that to gain the maximum value requires them to know how to apply the knowledge to solving the various problems they might be facing in their business. Thus, an instructor who has the experience in leading discussions on problems that cut across the industry space can be very valuable.
In the same context, the discussions and questions from peers with various perspectives and experiences can generate insight and knowledge that tend to be more relevant and lasting. Couple this with the chance to interact with fellow, likeminded learners from similar (and sometimes different) backgrounds helps build your professional network. Attendees often report that learning stems from one another as well as from the expert leading the class. In the digital classroom, online discussion forums are a great way to supplement the live interactions that take place during the class. Participants in an online forum are able to consider responses before sharing them – this can often result in more depth to the learning experience.
The Power of Practice
For software users, hands-on practice is a key part of learning and gaining competency. Learning through hands-on exercises, based on issues and challenges relevant to your role, goes a long way to reinforce the skill learned. In fact, the best way to materialize value is to use the tools right away, immediately after training. Our instructors can bring focus to topics of relevance directly to the attendees and the business within which they operate. We don’t simply teach functionality (e.g., ‘if you do this, that will happen’), we structure exercise problems so that the learners can construct their solutions hands-on, and immediately become practitioners afterwards.
Innovation and Blended Learning Options Are Key
Creating an innovative learning strategy is clearly on the minds of many of our customers. While our eLearning courses have provided many with a quick way to continue their training and development agenda with their teams now working remotely, our instructor-led virtual and online courses can further enrich that learning experience as they offer interactive short lecture sessions, hands-on exercises and online discussion — all under a flexible self-paced schedule.
With all the possible learning strategy available, ultimately, reaching a competency goal is perhaps what really matters the most. Understanding the different ways that your employees prefer to learn determines how to blend various learning options or which best learning path to choose from.
We are pleased to be able to offer AspenTech customers our eLearning courses for free until May 31. Contact our customer care team at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
We’re also very excited to announce a new format of digital learning: our new online training classes. These new online classes mix many aspects of learning and are designed to meet the shifting demands of remote learning. These new classes are offered at a 50% discount until June 30th (promo code: online50). Customers can sign up at https://esupport.aspentech.com/T_Homepage.