3 Important Areas of Training Needs Assessment

A needs analysis, or assessment, is an important first step in creating an online training initiative. Establishing what stakeholders need from a program, and what your employees need to learn, will help you create a program that has a greater chance of success.

But too many people either skip the step of creating a needs assessment (read more on the important step of performing a needs analysis), or they make mistakes. If a training needs assessment is messy, it could set the tone for your entire program, and could leave unsatisfied students or wasted funds.

One common mistake is looking too narrowly at your organization when documenting needs. For example, some administrators know they need to address a knowledge gap because of compliance requirements or industry guidelines. But they forget to consider if they have enough qualified trainers to handle a new online program. They assume that uploading a PDF to the website will be enough to train all their staff. Looking at only one piece of the puzzle will solve exactly one piece.

When employers start planning for an online training program, they should minimally start by looking at what their students need, what their organization needs, and what kind of technology needs. Likely, your organization will have more factors you’ll need to assess, but you can start here, more or less in this order:

1. Find out what your employees need to learn.

Assess what your learners need to know. You might have internal requirements, such as yearly sexual harassment training, or a need for continuing education credits to keep certifications up to date. Or you may have results-based needs, such as finding a way for employees to serve more clients in a shorter amount of time. Looking at gaps in learning will help you identify how to address them.

You can ask your students what they want to learn, but proceed down this road with caution. Sometimes, they don’t know what they need and lack the terminology to tell you, or have very little experience with (or love of) online learning.

2. Determine gaps in your infrastructure.

Assume you’ve identified what your audience needs to learn, and then back up and see what weaknesses you see in your infrastructure to make that happen. For example, you might need to hire a new fleet of trainers with skills in online teaching strategies. Or, your grant has reporting requirements, and you’ll need evaluation tools to address them. You can group stakeholders with your infrastructure, because they will also have requirements you’ll need to address, such as the ability to become self-supporting with your new courses.

3. Decide on the best technology for your needs.

Knowing what your needs are for learning and for your infrastructure will help greatly when you analyze what kind of technology will work best for your organization. Then you can begin to decide if you need self-paced learning, will offer courses with instruction, are looking to build a blended-learning program, what kind of data you need, etc. When you have a list of digital tools and features you need, you can measure them against providers and vendors that can help address those.

Explore what you should–and shouldn’t–be doing when you choose e-learning tools.

Remember that a needs assessment is just the beginning. Look at it as the launching point for a deep investigation into what it will take for your program to succeed. Jumping into something for the sake of it might seem like the fast solution, but you’ll be glad you took the time to look deeply into your requirements before you begin building.

Free Guide: E-Learning Strategy Essentials

Learn what steps to take when as you begin planning your online training program, including need assessment and more.

Download the free guide now!

How To Sell Online CHW Training to a Skeptic

Skeptics of online learning can have good reasons for being skeptical. When they think about turning your community health worker program from a live training to computer-based, they are concerned about what it means for your organization. They wonder how much a new CHW training initiative will cost. They need to be assured that health workers will continue to learn when they’re looking at a computer as opposed to sitting in a meeting room.
On the other hand, skeptics can also have some pretty invalid reasons for throwing up roadblocks. Perhaps they hate computers. Maybe they fear change. Maybe, for whatever reason, they distrust your enthusiasm.

No matter what motivations your critics have, you’ll do a better job of making your case for shifting to training your staff through a computer-based program if you follow the tips below. In short, doing some prep work will make the job much easier.

Recognize their concerns.

First, admit that moving to an online training program might really pose some concerns. It might be more expensive, at least in the short term. It could mean hiring new educators who understand online facilitation. It will require change and learning for the whole organization.

Remember that whenever you’re negotiating, it helps to understand where the other person is coming from. So pose to yourself the concerns your critics will have before you present a training solution so that you can address each one. Let their concerns help guide your research.

Research carefully.

Start by doing your own homework so you can back up your position with information that’s relevant. This might include case studies of similar organizations who have built successful e-learning programs (check out how the Office of Healthy Communities at the Washington state Department of Health launched a successful online program). You can also ask other organizations to let you see how they created their program and answer specific questions for your group.

Back up that research with industry trends (how many other organizations are using e-learning to train CHWs — see this research from RAC?) and projections (what kind of growth is likely for online training?).

Estimate the costs.

Create a spreadsheet that details the base costs of online learning. This should include the cost of converting your existing materials to a digital format, hiring staff members and a technology set-up. This article will help you estimate the cost of educating CHWs.

Give a live demonstration.

Computer-based training can be pretty hard to imagine for people with no experience. Make it easier to conceptualize what online learning looks like by actually demonstrating it. Don’t worry about getting all the logistics down, because you can work with a vendor to prepare a simulated training for your group. (Contact us about setting up a free demo for your team.)

Let skeptics try it for themselves.

Part two of a live demonstration is to let skeptics try it out for themselves. We create personalized accounts for all stakeholders and let potential clients work in the learning management system on their own. Often seeing how easy an online training is will help quell fears.

How To Sell Online Training to a Skeptic

Here’s how to prepare yourself to convince stakeholders online training is the way to go.

Skeptics of online learning can have good reasons for being skeptical. They are concerned about the health of your organization. They’re wonder how much a new training initiative will cost. They need to be assured that staff will continue to learn when they’re looking at a computer as opposed to sitting in a meeting room.

On the other hand, skeptics can also have some pretty invalid reasons for throwing up roadblocks. Perhaps they hate computers. Maybe they fear change. Maybe, for whatever reason, they distrust your enthusiasm.

Whatever motivations your critics have, you’ll do a better job of making your case for a computer-based training program to your organization if you follow the tips below. You’ll find that doing some prep work will make the job much easier.

Recognize their concerns.

First, admit that moving to an online training program might really pose some concerns. It might be more expensive. It could mean hiring new educators. It will require change and learning for the whole organization.

Whenever you’re negotiating, it helps to understand where the other person is coming from. Think about what concerns your critics will have before you present a training solution so that you can address each one. Let their concerns help guide your research.

Research carefully.

Start by doing your own homework so you can back up your position with information that’s relevant. This might include case studies of similar organizations who have built successful e-learning programs. You can also ask other organizations to let you see how they created their program and answer specific questions for your group.

You can also back up that research with industry trends (how many other organizations in your industry are using e-learning?) and projections (what kind of growth is likely for online training?).

Estimate the costs.

Create a spreadsheet that details the base costs of online learning. This should include the cost of converting your existing materials to a digital format, hiring staff members and a technology set-up. This article will help you estimate the cost of educating people both online and in person.

Give a live demonstration.

Computer-based training can be pretty hard to imagine for people with no experience. Make it easier to conceptualize what online learning looks like by actually demonstrating it. Don’t worry about getting all the logistics down, because you can work with a vendor to prepare a simulated training for your group. (Contact Talance about setting up a free demo for your team.)

Let skeptics try it for themselves.

Part two of a live demonstration is to let skeptics try it out for themselves. At Talance, we create personalized accounts for all stakeholders and let potential clients work in the learning management system on their own. Often seeing how easy an online training is will help quell fears.

Free Guide: E-Learning Strategy Essentials

Learn what steps to take when as you begin planning your online training program, including need assessment and more.

Download the free guide now!

Avoid These Training Program Bad Habits

Man asleep on laptop Online training doesn’t have to be boring!

Organizations spend millions on training employees online, and, frankly, much of that is wasted. The reason is that too many administrators wrongly assume that by simply rolling out a program, it will be successful.

Below are some bad habits I’ve seen many times in organizations, and some suggestions for making your computer-based staff training more effective.

Focus on fundamentals.

One bad habit is habitually offering training that is too advanced. A small challenge can be a motivator, but material that is too advanced will make employees disengage. The fix is to focus first on fundamental skills before moving on. Make sure your whole team follows the same basics–even if it seems elementary to some–and establish a baseline. Then build from there depending on job function.

Keep teaching.

Learning doesn’t stop when you put down your reading material, so why should teaching? Rather than making employee training a one-time event or something that happens only once a year, keep teaching. Reinforce skills training outside of the classroom and on the job. This is a good opportunity for blended learning, in which you can employ a coach to help reinforce skills picked up in the online course on the job.

Focus on goals.

Education that doesn’t meet your organizational goals is a sure sign for failure. Your employees won’t understand why they’re taking it, and it won’t support your overall mission. Yet, many companies simply subscribe to online courses because they’re easy. Tie training into goals, and administrators, stakeholders, the organization and employees will benefit.

Here’s some help on being systematic about setting goals.

Be fun.

So often online training is so frightfully boring that employees will do anything to avoid it–including checking email while logged in, making calls, or whatever they can do to just get through a requirement. If you’ve made your training relevant (see below), that helps with engagement, but so do carrots. Dangle certificates, prizes or contests to increase motivation.

Make it relevant.

If learners can’t see themselves and the people they work with in a course, they’ll lose interest quickly, and the course won’t click. Customize your training to situations and your employee demographic. People perform better when they can relate to the information.

Free Guide: E-Learning Strategy Essentials

Learn what steps to take when as you begin planning your online training program, including need assessment and more.

Download the free guide now!

Training Points You Should Be Evaluating

Checklist

The most successful training programs are those that are tracked and evaluated. Most organizations know that, but they often fail at the very beginning to look at the whole program as individual pieces. Being too general with evaluation will mean you miss out on important data that you can use immediately to improve your efforts.

Some items you can measure before you begin, some while a course is in process, and others as part of a longer effort. Look at the individual parts of your program, give your evaluation some context, and you’ll be able to have a clearer idea of what’s working–and what isn’t.

The training program. Looking at the program as a whole isn’t the same as looking at a course. Is the program meeting its goals (remember, you set goals before you even began assembling anything)? How does it stack up against your success measures (setting measures of success is another exercise you should have done at the offset). Are the key stakeholders satisfied? Is there a return on investment, both in terms of money and effort?

Individual courses. Next, focus in on individual courses. Pull out your measures of success and course goals and hold them against courses. Are you hitting your targets? Are your employees able to demonstrate that they’ve improved their skills?

Instructor. Separate the instructor from the course, and look at how they’re doing. Look at evaluations from students and also measure performance against job requirements. Does the instructor have the right training and temperament to teach online? Do they need additional education? Are they accessible to students and good at facilitating discussion? Also review teaching strategies to make sure you’re asking the instructor to deliver information the right way.

Resources. Resources go stale quickly online, so make sure links are up to date and that external websites you’re referring are still relevant. Policies and guidelines also change quickly, which might make them irrelevant or provide opportunities for improvement. Also evaluate whether resources were used correctly or if there’s a better option that meets your objectives.

Activities. Evaluate every learning activities right after it was completed so instructors and administrators know if participants are learning and if the activity serves the learning objective. Pair activities with learning objectives and weigh the outcome. If it seems unclear, you may need to evaluate your course’s learning objectives as well.

Technology. Finally, look at your delivery mechanism and see if it is serving your goals or hindering education. Do you have the capacity you need to offer training online, or would it make sense to outsource it? How do participants and instructors feel about the tools? What deficiencies or improvements could you implement to make the experience better?

Look at evaluation early and often, and your program will continue to improve. As you finish one round of evaluations, also evaluate your evaluation process so it’s even better next time. Your employees and your organization will benefit.

Get Help

Want even more help with improving or setting up your training program? Download a free copy of our e-book E-Learning Strategy Essentials.

11 Things To Know About Setting Training Program Goals

Smart program directors understand the value of goal-setting when setting up a successful online training program. Unfortunately, setting goals for training is difficult. You must look inside your program and understand both how it works and how your trainees are best motivated.

The following items can help you look at goal-setting from a different point of view, which will be better for your program.

1. Goals must be SMART

When you’re setting goals and objectives for training, use the SMART mnemonic to make sure you’re creating the best quality ones that you can actually track. Make sure your goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based. (Read more about SMART goals.)

2. It’s OK if you don’t reach your goals

Even if you don’t hit every mark, your training program might still be a success. So you trained only 300 people rather than 400. That could still be a remarkable achievement. When you don’t reach your goals, it could mean that they were unrealistic, or maybe the gains you made were enough.

3. Goals motivate behavior

One of the great benefits of setting goals is it will motivate your team to achieve them. This goes for the administrators, instructors and for the students. Creating goals that involve your entire team–and then sharing them with everyone–will help everyone work to achieve them.

4. Difficult goals are better than easy ones

While training program goals should be attainable (refer to the SMART acronym above), they should still be challenging. Strive to train 25% more people. Have participants prepare a sample document rather than reading one. Stretching a little further than everyone thinks they can will make everyone rise to the occasion.

5. Know the difference between a goal and outcome

Understanding the difference between a goal and an outcome can help you set up a successful education strategy. A goal is more general and refers to the knowledge, skill or behavior someone is working toward. An outcome is more specific and refers to a task to be completed.

A goal is to improve knowledge of emergency preparedness, but an outcome is to successfully respond to an emergency situation 30% faster than the previous average.

6. Work with stakeholders for success

Uninvolved stakeholders can kill an online training program because they simply don’t care about it. Bring in the whole team early to work out measurable objectives, because you may discover important details about their assumptions and requirements than you first did, and they’ll be more interested in outcomes.

7. Ground your goals

Goals are easiest to achieve when they make sense with your overall mission, vision and strategic direction. Making sure an online training strategy fits in with your overall training strategy will also eliminate redundancies and allow you to pull from a wider range of resources.

8. Set baselines

Instead of pulling goals out of the ether, build on your past achievements. What have employees learned over the past few years? How much have you spent on training in the past? Set a baseline of where you are right now so you can measure results and have a better idea if your program has been worth it.

Free Guide: E-Learning Strategy Essentials

Learn what steps to take when as you begin planning your online training program, including need assessment and more.

Download the free guide now!

11 Things To Know About Setting Training Program Goals

Smart program directors understand the value of goal-setting when setting up a successful online training program. Unfortunately, setting goals for training is difficult. You must look inside your program and understand both how it works and how your trainees are best motivated.
The following items can help you look at goal-setting from a different point of view, which will be better for your program.

1. Goals must be SMART

When you’re setting goals and objectives for training, use the SMART mnemonic to make sure you’re creating the best quality ones that you can actually track. Make sure your goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based. (Read more about SMART goals.)

2. It’s OK if you don’t reach your goals

Even if you don’t hit every mark, your training program might still be a success. So you trained only 300 people rather than 400. That could still be a remarkable achievement. When you don’t reach your goals, it could mean that they were unrealistic, or maybe the gains you made were enough.

3. Goals motivate behavior

One of the great benefits of setting goals is it will motivate your team to achieve them. This goes for the administrators, instructors and for the students. Creating goals that involve your entire team–and then sharing them with everyone–will help everyone work to achieve them.

4. Difficult goals are better than easy ones

While training program goals should be attainable (refer to the SMART acronym above), they should still be challenging. Strive to train 25% more people. Have participants prepare a sample document rather than reading one. Stretching a little further than everyone thinks they can will make everyone rise to the occasion.

5. Know the difference between a goal and outcome

Understanding the difference between a goal and an outcome can help you set up a successful education strategy. A goal is more general and refers to the knowledge, skill or behavior someone is working toward. An outcome is more specific and refers to a task to be completed.
A goal is to improve knowledge of emergency preparedness, but an outcome is to successfully respond to an emergency situation 30% faster than the previous average.

6. Work with stakeholders for success

Uninvolved stakeholders can kill an online training program because they simply don’t care about it. Bring in the whole team early to work out measurable objectives, because you may discover important details about their assumptions and requirements than you first did, and they’ll be more interested in outcomes.

7. Ground your goals

Goals are easiest to achieve when they make sense with your overall mission, vision and strategic direction. Making sure an online training strategy fits in with your overall training strategy will also eliminate redundancies and allow you to pull from a wider range of resources.

8. Set baselines

Instead of pulling goals out of the ether, build on your past achievements. What have employees learned over the past few years? How much have you spent on training in the past? Set a baseline of where you are right now so you can measure results and have a better idea if your program has been worth it.

Get started!

Ready to take your educational program to the next step? Request a copy of our free book E-learning Strategy Essentials.

E-learning Strategy in 6 Steps

E-Learning Strategy Essentials Upgrade your training strategy in 6 steps

Training has become fast-paced, thanks to the expansion of jobs, updates to current positions, changes in the company — all in the midst of budget cutbacks and limited resources. Organizations need a way to train incoming and current employees, and many businesses are considering the move to an online training program. No longer are businesses asking, “Should we implement an e-learning program?” but, “How should we implement an e-learning program?

We’ve laid out the six essential steps in building an e-learning strategy and explained what you need to do to put together a plan. In our complimentary e-book “E-Learning Strategy Essentials: A Step-by-Step Strategy for Training Employees Online“, we cover:

  1. Conducting your need assessment
  2. Setting measurable goals
  3. Attaining buy-in from leadership
  4. Choosing the right technology
  5. Implementing a winning staff
  6. Analyzing and evaluating the program for continued success

Download the guide

Training employees does not have to be expensive, time consuming or difficult to schedule. With our training strategies, in six steps, you can make your employee training more productive and successful.

(Do a friend a favor and share this link!)

5 Best Blogs for Healthcare and Training

5 Best Training Health Blogs

There are so many helpful blogs about training and healthcare, it’s nearly impossible to choose the best. Here are five that will help you keep learning and will provide inspiration for building a superior professional development program.

APHA Blog

The Alliance of Professional Health Advocates (APHA) reaches wide with a little bit of everything for existing or aspiring health workers. The blog, written by the prolific and insightful Trisha Torrey, doesn’t covers specifically training, but everything from tips for working with patients to running a better advocacy practice. A stream of information that will help you gain perspective on your organization’s needs, including training and beyond.

onehundredfortywords

With a shtick that makes it imminently readable, Judy Katz posts short snippits (weighing in at–you guessed it–around 140 words) about instructional design. Katz knows her field better than most and is deeply involved in online education. She reports on industry trends, best practices and opinions on what makes great education.

The E-Learning Coach

With the kind of actionable tips facilitators love, The E-Learning Coach is an incredibly useful stream of tips and techniques for running an online classroom. Any one of Connie Malamed’s articles will improve your training almost immediately.

Communicating.Across.Boundaries

If your goal is to help your team communicate better with clients, Communicating.Across.Boundaries is filled with heart-felt musings on the mash-up of cultures. A registered nurse and expert trainer, blogger Marilyn Gardner meditates on topics ranging from healthcare to spirituality to poetry.

ASTD Learning Executive Blog

Top-level executives and directors can glean strategic perspective from the ASTD Learning Executive Blog. You’ll find information tailored for leaders who are accountable to boards, committees, funders and the rest of the organization that decides if online learning stays or goes. This will make you reflect on how you want to build and run a training program.

Just getting started with your training program? Request a free copy of our e-book CHW E-Learning Strategy Essentials.

New Health Literacy Mini-Course

CHW Newest Vital Sign

Introduction to the Newest Vital Sign teaches health workers how to improve health literacy in about three minutes

WOBURN, MA, May 2, 2014  – Employers now have another course to address health literacy rates among their staff and clients. CHWTraining.org, a leader in training for health professionals, is now offering a new course: Introduction to The Newest Vital Sign, which begins July 15 and is now open for registration.  Employee training starts at $19.95, with discounted group pricing available.

“We are very excited about this new course based on a standard of health literacy assessment called The Newest Vital Sign,” says Monique Cuvelier, president of CHWTraining.org.  “This interactive course is a fast and easy way for an entire healthcare organization to improve the way they deliver health education materials.”

The self-guided course prepares all healthcare team members, from community health workers and patient navigators to medical interpreters and assistants, for administering The Newest Vital Sign. Students of this 45-minute course are also given a chance to practice in an interactive activity and can download take-away materials they can use on the job. Successful participants are awarded a Certificate of Completion.

Introduction to The Newest Vital Sign is one of several courses CHWTraining offers that can be bundled with an LMS purchase or offered separately.

“One feature we like about this online format is employees can pause the course and resume when they’re ready,” says Cuvelier. “This makes it easy to participate when and where it is convenient for them, at their own pace.”

That means participants can be learning while they are still working in the community and immediately applying what they learn.

To register for the course visit the Introduction to the Newest Vital Sign page. Read more about our health literacy library, including courses that will help your organization improve the way it handles health information visit our course catalog.