11 Trainee characteristics that influence e-learning skills transfer

Sometimes we tend to take the basics for granted. For instance, when it comes to e-learning, there are certain characteristics that influence how well a trainee learns. I recently came across a fantastic list of 11 key characteristics in Barbara Carnes’ book “Making eLearning Stick” (R479.00) and  if you’re in the process of creating an e-learning programme for your organisation, I think you’ll find this very useful:

1.    Self-efficacy. Closely related to self-confidence, self-efficacy is an individual’s belief that they will be able to learn and perform a task. Many studies point to self-efficacy as an overriding force in training transfer. “You can do it” messages in the registration email and early course slides, as well as success stories from previous participants, can boost learners’ self-confidence.

2.    Belief in usefulness. Workplace learners need to see how they will be able to use what they learn. E-learning and live virtual developers should avoid pressure from subject matter experts to include nice-to-know content and verify with target population representatives which content is need-to-know.

3.    Openness to experience. Trainees who are open to new experiences are better able to capitalise on learning successes, to acquire skills faster, and to transfer the new skills to their jobs. Training courses can set the stage and encourage learners to open their minds as they experience the training.

4.    Career Link. Learners who have career plans that they regularly consult and update, and learners who see a link between specific training and their career plans, are more likely to apply their learning to their job performance.

5.    Commitment to the organisation. There is a relationship between identification with workplace groups and the desire to gain and use new work-related knowledge. Trainees, who have a strong commitment to their organisation, or to their team or work unit, are more likely to use in their jobs what they have learned in their training. A popular term closely associated with this is employee engagement.

6.    Knowing how to learn. Trainees, who have metacognitive skills such as how to focus, self-regulate, and take tests effectively, are better able to learn and transfer technology-assisted training. These types of skills are helpful for participants in face-to-face learning environments too, but due to the increased isolation – physical and psychological – of e-learning and live virtual training, metacognitive skills play a larger role in participants’ ability to transfer their learning.

7.    Attitude. Learners with positive mental emotional states – or at least the absence of negative mental emotional states – are more likely to transfer their training. Whether in regard to the training itself, or a general life attitude, positive attitudes support better transfer.

8.    Motivation. Internal and external trainee motivation before, during, and after training plays a key role in transfer of training to the job. Internal motivation to learn and use the training may help propel the trainee toward learning and use but will likely falter without support from the environment. Motivation to learn and use the learning also affects and is affected by openness to experience and links to career progress.

9.    Computer confidence. If participants are uncertain about using the technology associated with the training, the learning is less likely to be applied. While most (but not all) employees in today’s workplaces are comfortable using a personal computer, some may not be completely comfortable using technologies associated with live virtual training, such as VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), threaded discussion, type-in chat, and virtual breakout groups.

10.    Cognitive ability. Trainees’ cognitive abilities affect their levels of learning and how much they apply their learning to the job. This factor is closely related to knowing how to learn.

11.    Age. Younger learners tend to achieve higher levels of learning transfer in technology-supported training because they have been users of related technologies for most, if not all, of their lives.

E-learning will form a crucial of training development in the years to come.  After all, in today’s tough economic times it’s vital to ensure training remains as cost-effective as possible and takes as little time as possible. Which brings me to the upcoming e-Learning Conference to be held 27-29 August 2013. The topics and speakers were carefully researched to reflect the latest trends and challenges in the e-learning arena.

Don’t delay, register today!

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