How to make training less time consuming

How to Train Remote Staff in Less Time

Online training can be a life-saver. This is especially true when in-person options for staff are cancelled, and also when it’s hard to get people in one room together to learn. For people learning and delivering training, being able to learn new skills demands being able to take online courses. This might be a short-term fix for some organizations, but it will likely be the new norm for many others.

The benefits of remote learning are many. However, one common complaint is that it takes too long. Some people think it takes a long time to develop an online curriculum, and some people think it takes too long to complete the training.

A time-sink can have negative results on your program and result in lackluster remote learners. If you can’t get your new workers up to speed, or upskill existing employees, in a reasonable amount of time, your agency will feel the effects. Poorly trained people can’t do their job. Some staff members will make an attempt to do a job assignment, but they won’t do it correctly. At worst, they do slap-dash work. At best, they think they’re doing the right thing, but don’t understand. Either way, if they skim over long training, they will miss important skills.

It’s hard to apply a single rule to the wide variety of online courses. But it’s worth examining ways to either lessen the effects of time-consuming training, or at least manage expectations so everyone on your team knows how much time to make in their schedule. These changes let you train remote staff in less time and can make training feel easier and less intimidating.

Tips To Train Remote Staff in Less Time

  1. Track training time.
  2. Give staff enough time to learn.
  3. Set a deadline.
  4. Document processes for training later.
  5. Avoid multitasking.
  6. Answer questions ahead of time.
  7. Upskill rather than train from scratch.
  8. Set expectations that training does take time.

1. Track training time.

Before you make any changes to your training selection, make sure it really is taking an unexpected amount of time. It might just feel like it’s taking a long time. Boring or confusing courses are just as hard to sit through as a bad movie. They might not, however, take an inappropriate amount of time to complete. Have your staff track when they started and ended.

A tracker helps train remote staff in less time by being more organized

2. Give staff enough time to learn.

Some learners look at training as one more thing they have to add to their to-do list. Make sure they have enough time for training by making room in their schedule. An online course is far more flexible than an in-person training. Learners can do a bit of work when they have the time, break away to work with a client, and then come back to finish up. If 10 p.m. is a better time to work, they can work at 10 p.m. There’s no travel time.

3. Set a deadline.

Any time is often no time. If someone can push a deadline for completing a course into the future, they might never complete it. It also takes time to keep snoozing training, or not setting aside enough time to do it. So offer your staff a limitation on when they can finish a course, and they’ll find a way to fit it in.

A deadline can be a one-time event (“Complete the HIPAA compliance training by 5 p.m. Friday”) or ongoing events. In this case, you can give mini-deadlines to your staff. For example, they should complete module one by Wednesday, module two by Monday, etc. Structure can really be a time-saver and a big motivator for professional development.

4. Document processes for training later.

Taking a course in the moment is great, but having the training when you need it can be even better. People learn best when they can apply the skills at the right time. So provide training up front, and then later, when it comes time to use those skills, support your staff’s knowledge with added information.

The way you do this is to document everything, so that you have process and procedure documents that are at-hand when they’re needed. Document whenever you can, save what you create, make it available to the right people, and you’ll find you train remote staff in less time.

5. Avoid multitasking.

Multitasking is a way to do several tasks badly at once. It might feel productive to try to do two tasks at the same time, or switch between two tasks in quick succession. But https://www.apa.org/research/action/multitask. We’re not made to do two things at once. Many psychological studies have showed that the brain doesn’t work this way and actually slows down task completion.

So when your staff is learning, make sure they’re learning. Discourage texting, phone calls, discussions, and working on completing training while doing other jobs. It will speed everything up.

6. Answer questions ahead of time.

Create the best condition for your learners by predicting the questions they might ask and answer them ahead of time. That way, neither of you need to waste time asking and answering obvious questions. For example:

  • Send a supplies list in advance, such as headphones, notebook, computer
  • How much time they can expect to spend on a course
  • Access information, including login, password, and whitelisting to avoid spam
  • Requirements for their job that you know happen on a regular basis

Add these items along with any others to a notebook or a document that you circulate every single time you instruct your team to complete a training. Also encourage learners to ask questions whenever they have them so you can add to your document.

7. Upskill rather than train from scratch.

Upskilling means to train your workers at a higher level and with updated skills to meet best practices, guidelines, and requirements. Upskilling isn’t training from scratch. It’s the practice of training often to keep up with protocols. Upskilling can also be quicker than training with a brand new course. You’re not reteaching, you’re customizing training so it meets new skills quickly.

8. Set expectations that training does take time.

Online training can be a time-saver in many ways, but it does take time. Factor in such issues as traveling, staying in a hotel, or waiting to check in at an event means that remote learning lets you train staff in less time. However, learners still need to sit in front of the course and complete it. Online training isn’t easier and it’s not a breeze. So make sure your learners know what to expect by telling them they should take training seriously and put the appropriate amount of time into learning.

Sometimes, just knowing how long something will take makes it go by that much quicker.

 

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Program manager researching funding resources

27 Funding Resources for Healthcare Projects

Getting funding to kick off a healthcare program can be one of the biggest challenges. Another common challenge is finding a way to secure long-term funding resources to make the program sustainable. And sometimes, allocating the resources obtained is a challenge in itself.

The irony is that healthcare initiatives aim to reduce overall healthcare spending. And they do so while improving outcomes. But the reality is securing funding resources is hard. The competition for grants, staffing cuts, and declining spending make it tough for programs to work.

Finding funding isn’t always straightforward, so it can pay to think crooked. Think creatively about funding, because it really is out there. Here are some of the best tips that program leaders from states around the US shared and brainstormed.

Funding Resources for Healthcare Projects

Types of Funding Categories

Before starting on a grant-seeking expedition, it pays to understand the terminology around different kinds of funding. Spend some time with a glossary. This could help you structure projects that fit in areas you might not have considered. For example:

  • seed funding
  • place-based funding
  • capacity-building
  • supporting the non-profit sector

General Funding Sources

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Funding Announcements

AHRQ publishes regular grant announcements via email. These grants focus on “supporting research to improve the quality, effectiveness, accessibility, and cost-effectiveness of health care.”

Applying for Grants to Support Rural Health Projects, Rural Health Information Hub

RHIhub is a font of helpful information. This guide is an A to Z on getting funding. It’s targeted at rural health projects, but applicable widely. It has resources, helpful organizations, opportunities, and models.

Candid Newsletters

Candid, a merger of the Foundation Center and GuideStar, publishes helpful newsletters focused on fundraising, boards, best practices, and more. The Candid Newsletters, including the Funding Watches, are monthly newsletters summarizing news in subject-based philanthropy, links to resources, funding opportunities for individuals and organizations, and job listings. There are also a selection of regional newsletters and the useful RFP Bulletin.

Council on Foundations

The Council on Foundations is a philanthropic network and nonprofit leadership association of grantmaking foundations and corporations. You can scan through members to find out who is giving grants on the Council on Foundations website. The membership directory is for members only. But the website is still full of references and keywords that can help in your search.

Grantmakers in Health

Grantmakers in Health is a networking group for funders that reveals trends and directions in grantmaking. The site provides announcements of grant funding, such as “The Well Being Trust, a national foundation dedicated to advancing the mental, social, and spiritual health of the nation, recently announced new grant funding for twenty-six initiatives as part of their California Mental Health and Wellness Initiative.”

NIH Grants & Funding

NIH offers funding resources for many types of grants, contracts, and even programs that help repay loans for researchers. Learn about these programs, as well as about NIH’s budget process, grant funding strategies, and policies, and more. Many AHRQ opportunities appear under NIH.

NNLM offers funding resources for projects that improve access to health information, increase engagement with research and data, and expand professional knowledge. They also support outreach projects aimed to promote awareness and the use of NLM resources in local communities. It includes many funding opportunities you might not think of, such as grants for holding training in libraries.

National Network of Libraries of Medicine

The National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM) is a collaboration of members with the shared goal of advancing medicine and improving public health by giving health professionals access to biomedical information and improving individuals’ access to information to enable them to make informed decisions about their health. It’s comprised of academic health sciences libraries, hospital, pharmaceutical, and other special biomedical libraries, public libraries, information centers, and community-based organizations.

COVID-19 Grants and Funding

The coronavirus is creating some funding opportunities meant to offset the disruption caused by the virus. According to an article by Moss Adams, “Large sums have been designated for health care industry purposes. The federal agencies will award the funds directly to health care providers as well as to states or state agencies, which will then pass the funds to hospitals and provider recipients.”

Some funding opportunities include FEMA public assistance awards, Community Health Center (FQHC) Grants, telehealth grants, and a helpful grant Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grants from the Department of Agriculture Utilities Programs useful for any organization trying out online training for the first time.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Grant Opportunities and Guidance, HHS.gov

The Health and Human Services page contains general information on grants related to COVID-19. Look specifically at the section labeled “Coronavirus Grants Information from across HHS” for direct links to several other agencies.

Private Donors

Many agencies make a habit of looking at the general funding sources listed above. But they ignore many private sources of funding that are less well-publicized. Some examples are:

Unexpected Departments and Sectors

Think outside of public health for funding other than or connected to health, like science, transportation, or other areas dedicated to social determinants of health. Note to examine your buzzwords, neutralize them, and learn the buzzwords in other sectors.

Some ideas:

  • Department of Transportation and Highway Safety, which wants to use community health workers to promote the use of car seats.
  • Reproductive Health provides funding to boost maternal health programs.
  • Partnering with doula organizations for post-partum maternal health?
  • Departments of Housing, e.g., Healthy Homes, Housing Trust Fund
  • CitizenScience, which works largely in technology and environments but also in population health (Smoke Sense is a project that aims to understand the extent to which exposure to wildland fire smoke affects health and productivity, as well as inform health risk communication strategies that protect public health during smoke days. SONYC is a smart cities initiative focused on developing a cyber-physical system (CPS) for the monitoring, analysis, and mitigation of urban noise pollution. GoViral is a free and real-time online Cold & Flu surveillance system administered by researchers at New York University. Participants will get a Do-It-Yourself flu saliva collection system that they can keep and use at home if they are feeling sick.)
  • Keep looking for federal, but also state and community funding sources.

Partners

Partners can help share the load and also open up possibilities for new grants. Some examples:

  • Indian Health grant for diabetes
  • Good Health and Wellness (Indian) – careful of duplicating efforts
  • CHRs
  • EMS (guiding CHWs to getting certified in CPR and First Aid)
  • Gaming Commissions often need to spend their money on communities

Strategy Idea: Mixing Funding Streams

Lastly, think about strategy when looking for funding resources. Remember that funding seeds funding. Funders look at successful programs that have already received money as potential sources for additional funding. They want their investment to succeed.

Sometimes you can increase funding if you tell one funder that you’ve received funding from another. They can provide a matching grant for the same cause.

Disclaimer: This article is a basic resource and is not comprehensive. We’ll continue to update it to add more information as funding opportunities become available or change.

 

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Virtual Training: Top 10 Questions From Program Managers and Directors

The way we think of learning has changed forever. Workshops, presentations, and courses have been through a major shift in the last year. Now almost everyone is involved in some kind of virtual training. That trend is likely to continue.

This trend has caused many managers to reach out for advice. Most often, they start asking how to best deliver training to their healthcare teams who are learning from home—or at least not in a conference room anymore.

Below is a list of answers to the top 10 most common questions we’ve gotten from program managers, directors, HR representatives, and other administrators in the past year.

If you’re one of the many who looks at delivering online training materials successfully as an essential skill, this list is for you. You might also like to read about some common acronyms connected with online learning in this article. Read on for tools and resources to keep your team engaged. You’ll also learn how to plan and run a successful virtual training program.

10 of the Most Frequently Asked Questions About Virtual Training

  1. What is virtual training?
  2. How do you keep people engaged during online learning?
  3. What equipment do I need for virtual training?
  4. What are the most common ways to access virtual training content?
  5. Who can facilitate virtual training?
  6. Is virtual training effective for professionals?
  7. What are the benefits of virtual training?
  8. How do you organize a virtual training program?
  9. How do you guarantee success in a virtual training program?
  10. Where to start when planning a virtual training program?

1. What is virtual training?

Simply put, it is training conducted online when the instructor and the learners are in two different places. It’s also known as remote learning, e-learning, computer-based training, or instructor-led training.

There are two modalities:

Asynchronous learning: In this style, instructors and learners aren’t online at the same time. The instructor shares a resource and the student uses it at their own pace. This style works best for its flexibility and the fact that anyone can access the resources as needed.

Examples of asynchronous learning:

  • College courses
  • Self-paced courses
  • Instructor-led classrooms
  • Bulletin boards or discussion forums
  • Communities of practice

Synchronous learning: The students and instructor connect live on their preferred platform (which can be as simple as a video call service) and interact in real time. This style is best for collaboration and engagement as it allows real-time feedback and conversation.

Examples of synchronous learning:

  • Webinar
  • Live discussions or chats
  • Live online classrooms
  • Meetings
  • Presentations

Many virtual training programs include a mix of synchronous and asynchronous learning. They use set “live” hours every week with extra materials for students to review in their own time. This makes the live sessions more effective. Everyone understands the topics that will be covered ahead of time.

2. How do you keep people engaged during online learning?

Keeping a virtual team engaged is important so they maximize the skill-building you’re giving them. You can read a list of proven ways to motivate distance learners in professional development. Start by practicing these tips to connect with your team remotely:

  • Nurture communication: One challenge of online learning is the lack of interaction. Create a sense of connection by encouraging your team to communicate and share thoughts about their training and other aspects of their lives. Here are some ways to improve communication.
  • Encourage a team effort: The physical distance in your team also makes it hard for impromptu collaboration to happen. Not everything needs to be a group project, but you can increase collaboration with encouraging exchanges, questions, and even brainstorming sessions. This helps your team work together.
  • Create ways to connect: Thanks to tools like Slack and other instant messaging platforms, it’s easier than ever to remain connected virtually. Many teams use these channels to imitate casual in-person exchanges. For example, a “Water cooler chat” room is an easy way to open space for casual conversation online.

3. What equipment is needed for remote learning?

Anyone with access to technology can attend virtual training. Most people also have in their pockets or on their desk the right kind of equipment to do an online course. Most courses require:

  • A computer or laptop, or even a mobile phone if that’s what you’ve got
  • An internet connection
  • Audio equipment, such as speakers or earbuds
  • A way of viewing documents, such as PDFs or other documents

4. What are the most common ways of accessing virtual training content?

There are multiple ways to access virtual training content:

  • Self-guided training: A lesson that each learner goes through independently.
  • Instructor-led online training: A semi-self-directed course but with a facilitator or instructor.
  • Recorded lessons: The instructor records a video to share with students.
  • Live streaming lessons: Using conference or video call tools (Skype, Zoom, Join.me, and many more), the instructor and learners meet to discuss a topic live.
  • Downloads: The instructor prepares PDFs, documents, and other files to easily share content for students to work.

Read about creating an annual training plan for your program.

Who can facilitate virtual training?

Often professors, professional instructors, peers, and subject matter experts facilitate virtual training.

But also people who are good at communicating with teams and guiding conversations can be good facilitators. They should know the material well, however.

Just like for in-person training, you should always look for a qualified individual, a strongly developed curriculum, and the legal credentials to back up the program. Read more about hiring skilled facilitators vs. training existing staff.

6. Is virtual training effective for professionals?

Yes, it is effective—if it’s done right. Some agencies define “virtual training” as emailing a PDF document to participants. That doesn’t have the same instructional value as an online course built with learning objectives, interactive elements, and assessments.

Many people earn full university degrees—from associates’ to doctorates purely online. They’re well-educated people who have the same dedication and knowledge as their counterparts who sat through classroom lectures.

Remote learning is especially important in some circumstances, such as in rural areas or during global pandemics.

7. What are the benefits of virtual training?

One of the main benefits of virtual training is the flexibility it offers to participants. Online learning programs make it easy for anyone to attend and complete their education. They can do it around their other responsibilities, including jobs and family life.

Another benefit of remote training programs is that costs are often lower than in-person training, especially in the long run. Factor in reduced commute times, books, out-of-home meals, and changes in your work schedule, and it’s easy to see why virtual training is successful.

Virtual training programs have become a go-to for professionals and are here to stay.

8. Where do I start when planning a virtual training program?

The first step in creating an online training initiative is performing a training needs assessment of your public health workforce. This is essential for creating professional development opportunities that will improve the knowledge, competence, and effectiveness of your staff.

Before you do anything to train your staff, find out what your stakeholders need from a program and what your employees need to learn. This will help you create a program that has a greater chance of success.

Then you can begin looking at curriculum, vendors, and the best technology for your needs.

9. How long should a virtual training session last?

The average person can stay focused and engaged for 45 to 60 minutes before they need a break. Think about the meetings you’ve attended, and how long you’ve been able to sit in your seat without your mind wandering or needing to stretch your legs. 

The most effective online lessons are broken into chunks to make it easy to work through them. Building modules of 30 minutes to 45 minutes are a good guideline.

10. How do you guarantee success in a virtual training program?

The key to a successful virtual training program is keeping your learners engaged. Without that engagement, they won’t learn. Plus the return on investment won’t be good.

Some ways to boost engagement in remote learning are:

  1. Create check-ins to get participant feedback.
  2. Partner new learners with more experienced workers.
  3. Include stakeholders in planning and goal-setting.
  4. Create a team for your program, so you’re not the only one responsible.

Curious about remote learning?

Submit a question to a learning professional now. You can also ask questions on the Talance page on LinkedIn.

Moving Your Modules: Should You Use SCORM, xAPI, or AICC for Your Courses?

Portability should be one of your biggest concerns when you’re building a custom course. Being able to move your course from one learning platform to another is just as important as it is for your phone number when you switch from one carrier to another. You’re probably one of the agencies that has shifted at least some part of your in-person training or meeting to online. So even though this seems like a topic meant for the IT department, it’s something you should understand at least in its basic form.

There are a few technologies that make this possible in varying degrees of availability and ease. Here’s a quick breakdown of these acronyms so you can be informed when you make a decision about how your next custom course is built. You’ll probably be using these terms when you’re evaluating your existing or new platform during a needs assessment.

Important Distance Learning Acronyms

  • LMS
  • SCORM
  • AICC
  • xAPI

What is an LMS?

The first acronym to decode before diving in is LMS, or learning management system. An LMS is the software platform that lets you run a course, lets your learners take courses, and provides tracking, reporting, registering, and other functions.

LMSs are important for online training the way that cars are important for driving. They let you do all the managing–or learning—right from your computer. Without them, you’re just sending file attachments.

Think of the LMS as the container for one or more online courses. This way you’ll have some context for thinking about how courses work on these platforms. Some of the most common standards for creating online courses for delivery on an LMS follow.

SCORM

Shareable Content Object Reference Model (SCORM) is a technical standard for building online learning objects. These objects are usually online courses, but they don’t have to be.

If a course is built to be SCORM-compliant, it means that it should work smoothly with any LMS that supports that standard. Any SCORM-compliant course can be plugged into any SCORM-compliant LMS. So you can have one custom course that was built to be SCORM compliant, zip it up, and then unzip it on any other SCORM-compliant platform.

SCORM is for programmers—not for curriculum developers. It’s purely technical.

SCORM is the industry standard and is widely used. It’s a useful acronym to learn, because it tells you that your course can be moved around with the most ease.

AICC

Aviation Industry CBT Committee (AICC) is a different standard for developing computer-based courses.

AICC is much older than SCORM and was widely used. It was more often used for other forms of computer-based training, such as CD-ROMs. It wasn’t developed for online courses and doesn’t have all the tracking capabilities that SCORM has. AICC isn’t used as often because of its age and limitations, and it’s starting to age out.

xAPI

XAPI is the third of the most commonly used standards for developing courses. It’s not as broadly used as SCORM.

One reason is that xAPI is new. It was developed in 2013 and is still moving around the market. It’s promising, because it supports tracking outside the LMS, such as offline learning. This feeds into better participation and communication. Eventually, it will be a useful way to make courses.

Which standard should you choose?

Choose SCORM if you’re looking for a new course to be developed. The industry is still mostly using SCORM, which makes it the most flexible and reliable option. Things will change in the future, but for now, this is the safest bet for new courses or conversions.

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7 Ways to Build Participation in Remote Training

Everyone is better at delivering training online than a year ago. But given the amount of instructor-led training (ILT) that’s moved to virtual training, many learners aren’t as engaged as they should be. Add to that disruptions while working from home, and it can be a good time investment to think about ways to keep participants engaged in remote learning.

Engagement varies widely, depending on the course and who’s taking it. And there’s no one way to make sure that your participants are actively involved. However, there are a few guidelines and communication strategies you can follow that will help make your training stick.

1. Ask early and often for feedback in multiple ways.

Asking for feedback is a proven strategy for increasing engagement. The best part is that you can ask for feedback no matter what format your training is in: if you have virtual instructor-led training (VILT) with a facilitator or if you have purely self-paced lessons. It’s simply a matter of checking in.

You can use many different methods—simple or complex–to get feedback from participants, including:

  • A forum designed for general thoughts
  • A survey at the end of the course
  • Polls throughout the training. For example, ask how relevant they think information is or how long it took them to complete a module.
  • Asking for thumbs-up or thumbs-down emojis on your team chat channel
  • Direct questions about how the material relates to their work
what did you like best about this course

2. Make sure supervisors participate too.

Participants’ supervisors are critically important to the success of any learner’s training. Supervisors need to be included from the beginning. At the very least, supervisors set expectations for training, answer questions and make sure employees participate. This goes for stakeholders too, who want to make sure their training investment pays off.

They can also take a more hands-on approach to training by answering specific questions that arise in the course. They can make time in the employee’s schedule for learning. With many healthcare professions, supervisors also need to demonstrate procedures or supplement training with information about internal policies.

Consider enlisting superiors as coaches for the best results. Create a related course that supervisors are also required to follow.

3. Enlist peers for training.

Peer training is one of the best ways to drive home skill building. Top-down instruction is fine, but sometimes employees listen to their coworkers more closely.

This is partly because coworkers can relate to each other in a unique way. They have a good idea of how their job works within the organization, what their clients or patients might need, and other critical knowledge that might not be included in the core content. And peers can be less intimidating than bosses.

Peer-to-peer training is especially helpful in new hire situations or when you’re trying to build rapport among team members.

4. Set training and development benchmarks.

If your course is skills-based, first take measurements of where staff skills are. Tell your employees why their skills are being measured. Then upon completion, measure progress against your benchmark.

One idea is to assess ability with one task during performance appraisals. Employees will also equate the course with an overall job requirement. These benchmarks can be coupled with performance reviews and job goals. They may also be part of larger initiatives, such as quality improvement projects.

5. Offer rewards.

There’s a reason so many coffee shops offer punch cards: rewards work. Think about what incentives for completing training will motivate your participants to finish. Make sure to focus on rewards rather than penalties.

Successful rewards we’ve seen are completion certificates or industry certification. Even simple public commendations for completion, such as on the company Slack channel, are surprisingly motivating.

Some other ideas are:

  • Friendly competition, including badges and leaderboards
  • Promising new equipment for use on the job
  • Additional training opportunities
  • End-of-course lunches for successful participants
offer rewards

6. Make it relevant.

Participation will drop like a stone if a course doesn’t make sense to the people taking it. Unfortunately, many courses are too general or not addressed to the right group. Make sure training initiatives are aligned with organizational goals and mission first of all.

If you can, develop courses from scratch and after carefully surveying your audience. This will give you the best chance of creating something that is truly tied to your agency’s needs. Staff members also usually appreciate being asked for their feedback and seeing the results being spread to the company. Off-the-shelf courses can also be customized on screen, or they can also be complimented by instruction in the field.

7. Give help and support to those who need it.

Technology scares some people. Be prepared to make it easy to succeed in an online course.

Set up a demonstration before the course begins. Appoint coaches in the workplace who can offer assistance. Give a computer-literacy assessment before the course begins so you have a better idea of who will need additional help.

Originally published October 16, 2014, updated March 15, 2021.

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How To Make Your Online Training Less Intimidating

 
 

New training technology can be exciting and engaging for health agency employees—really!

If you’re changing the way you do training to a new method that’s different for your team—probably in a conference room with a speaker at the front—your staff might feel intimidated. Change can be scary for some people, but it doesn’t have to be.

Adopting new training technology, such as online courses, means a different mindset for your agency staff. By doing some planning and strategy, you can roll out your new online learning project smoothly and get people trained as quickly as possible.

Here are 9 steps you can follow for the successful implementation of your new elearning program.

1. Cultivate a positive attitude.

Start off by setting the tone for your training program. Convey some excitement and build some anticipation. The right frame of mind helps people adopt new technology and other job changes. Nix any negative attitudes right away. Remind your team that they are capable of learning new things and can succeed.

Think of your new course launch like the premiere of a Hollywood movie, so your employees are enthusiastic to begin.

2. Remind new learners of their existing experience.

Taking a class online is much less challenging than most people realize. Most people take for granted the kind of work they do on a computer, including checking their e-mail, posting to their social media accounts, or typing a document on a computer. With that kind of ability, they won’t have any trouble with an online course. Remind them of that.

Next, address their fear of the unknown by letting them try out the tools and see they’re not so tricky. You could:

  • Use some screen recording software or a tutorial from your vendor to show how to get started.
  • Arrange a presentation to introduce them to the learning system.
  • Let them try it for themselves with a few simple tasks, such as logging in or changing their password.

Once they see the tasks aren’t very different from what they normally do on a computer, their fear factor will reduce considerably.

It’s still a good idea to ask an administrator to be available to new technology users to answer simple questions. You can also offer a computer-readiness quiz at the beginning of class to help pinpoint those who need extra help.

3. Show how the training relates to their job.

Some online trainings are vague and not well targeted. If your staff has had experience with these courses in the past, they might legitimately worry that they’ll have to sit through a course that doesn’t have anything to do with their job duties.

Solve this by relating any new training initiative with clear learning goals that are based on professional development. Then, when you do introduce a new program, it will immediately be relevant.

Be clear when you notify staff about the course that it will help them with X skill–provide real-life examples when possible. For example, tell them, “This new course on health literacy includes worksheets you can download and use to assess clients’ literacy levels.”

4. Put a friendly face to the training.

For some people, the idea of not being able to sit in the same room with an instructor is a big turn-off. The reality is that time away from work in a training room is difficult and expensive, and “remote” learning doesn’t have to feel far away.

If you have a course facilitator, encourage them to introduce themself to your staff and ask them to share information with one another. If it’s an administrator, have them post their picture next to a quick introduction. If there’s no one facilitating, include a picture of a person learning and enjoying it.

This will help build a personal rapport. It can also be helpful to build periodic conference calls into a course, or create virtual office hours, so participants can interact with the instructor. A mentoring structure can help too, if you can pair learners with experienced health workers.

The Office of Healthy Communities at the Washington State Department of Health solves this by presenting their community health workers with a blended learning model: an in-person session followed by an online program. Read more about how their program works.

5. Give your team time to train.

Some learners are happy about the prospect of learning new skills. Others look at training as one more thing they have to add to their to-do list.

You can ease this anxiety by setting aside time for your team to work on their courses.

Also remind them that an online course is far more flexible than an in-person training. Participants can do a bit of work when they have the time, break away to work with a client, and then come back to finish up. If 10 p.m. is a better time to work, they can work at 10 p.m. There’s no travel time.

6. Provide the right equipment.

Health staff are not technology staff, so they naturally don’t have access to the whole range of equipment someone who works in an office all day would. However, the list of equipment most people need for taking an online course is pretty short, and most people either possess or can find access to what they’ll need. The list includes:

  • A computer or smartphone
  • Speakers or headphones
  • A printer if they want to print anything out

Most people can go into an office to access a computer, if necessary, or they can visit their local library. You can make sure participants have their supplies by providing a “things you’ll need to begin” list and then telling them where they can find public access, if necessary.

7. Provide language options.

Many people who don’t speak English as a first language or fluently worry they won’t be able to keep up with a course. In feedback from our courses, we’ve found just the opposite. Because learners can reread text many times, listen to audio or experience the material in different ways, it makes it easier to spend the time necessary to process and understand the course.

If you have a critical mass of workers who need access in one language, you might consider having the course translated or offered in another language.

8. Set some goals.

Setting and reaching goals is important to your staff, who needs to see how their work fits in with the larger objectives of your agency. This is part of the research you should have uncovered in your training needs assessment.

Once you set them, then look at what might make them more difficult to reach. In many cases, there could be a training gap. The gap might be:

  1. Individual. If one person lacks the skills to complete a task, they have an individual training gap. For example your new hire needs to do community outreach for your agency, but they don’t have any outreach skills.
  2. Team. Your whole team might lack skills to carry out an initiative, so they have a team learning gap. An example almost everyone can relate to is setting up new protocols for Covid-19.
  3. Organizational. Entire agencies sometimes have a gap in an area and have an organizational learning gap. Many organizations recognize they have gaps in cultural competency and have needed to supplement training in that area.

Learning goals might even reach into the future, and they can dovetail nicely with personal goals of your team. You can ask your employees what they’d like to learn in the next month, quarter, or year, and then provide them with training opportunities to get there.

9. Support peer learning.

Some employees are afraid they’ll feel isolated by working on a computer and won’t be able to meet the other people in the course. In feedback we’ve received in our courses, we’ve found just the opposite.

One woman, for instance, said she met many more people than she does when she’s in a live training. In a conference room, she talks only to the people sitting on either side of her, but online, she had lengthy and meaningful discourse with everyone in the course.

Online courses are also easily adapted, so you can offer support materials that do relate well to the community. You can ask participants to share personal stories with the group and provide lists of local resources and agencies that they will find useful. The best courses are the ones that reflect the people taking them.

The path to learner engagement.

The best way to address any fear is to acknowledge it, so your staff knows you’re taking them seriously, and then provide examples and evidence to make them feel more at ease. After the first week, most participants will wonder why they were ever worried in the first place.

Originally published June 6, 2014, updated March 08, 2021.

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Checklist: Does Your Team Need Cultural Competency Training?

Every healthcare and wellness organization needs cultural competence training, no matter what. Being able to view clients and patients with an awareness of their cultural background has a huge impact on your agency and also each person’s health.

Cultural competency allows your team to bridge a gap between the people in your community and the healthcare system.

Health Disparities in Populations

This gap in care is down to bias blind spots—sometimes intentional and sometimes implicit or unconscious bias—that leaves out wide swaths of the population.

Too many people have vastly different healthcare experiences because of their race/ethnicity, income, geographic location, sexual preference, or other characteristics. These differences often lead to health disparities in populations.

More African Americans and Latinos, compared to whites, have at least one of seven chronic conditions:

  1. asthma
  2. cancer
  3. heart disease
  4. diabetes
  5. high blood pressure
  6. obesity
  7. anxiety/ depression

Some of this is because they don’t get treated quickly or at all, compared to white populations.

COVID-19 & Women's Health: What You Need To Know

Assessing Cultural Competence in Healthcare

Closing the gap in cross-cultural situation means that every single patient or client gets the care they need. Skipping cultural competency training is a sure way for those patients to fall into the gap.

Properly training healthcare and wellness employees will have a better self-awareness of their own biases and the ways that their clients receive inconsistent care base don their cultural beliefs and behaviors.

Knowing that you need cultural competence training at your work is step one. Assessing in what areas individuals might need extra training is step two.

Below is a checklist you can use as a basic starting point to see what are the general goals of a competency training program and where you might need help. Here is a list of many more assessments specific for different languages and working situations for a deeper dive.

Print out or save copies of this checklist and give it to your team members. Let them know that it’s not a quiz, it’s just a tool for assessing. They don’t need to add their name or even show it to you if they don’t want to. It’s just a way to rate a person’s level of cultural competency. Start now by taking it yourself.

Cultural Competency Self-Assessment

scoring
Scoring

Look at the number of checks in the “strongly agree” and “agree” columns. These reflect a higher level of competency. Think about signing up for training to improve those areas where there are checks in “neither agree nor disagree,” “disagree” and “strongly disagree.”

Ongoing Training

Cultural competency training isn’t a one-and-done event. Learning is a process with plenty of on-the-job practice that should extend throughout a person’s employment. Make sure you’re following the National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) in Health and Health Care (PDF) and put together an ongoing training plan to keep improving.

Your community’s health will improve.

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The 10 Training Metrics That Help with Grant Reports

If you need to provide reports as a condition of a grant reward, online learning management systems (LMSs) provide a giant benefit.

They provide metrics, gathered automatically, all the time.

If you have received a grant award, you are probably required to submit various reports so the funder can monitor your progress and performance. If that grant is for some type of capacity-building or training, you have a handy data source that makes your job easier.

Agencies that leverage insights on how program participants behave and perform can spend less time hunting and more time focused on their main goals.

The trick is to be systematic about it and know how to interpret the types of data that your learning system provides. Make sure that monitoring progress and behavior is part of your performance and progress reports.

This article walks through 10 reports that are essential for your requirements and also for knowing how well your online training program is going on a day-to-day basis.

10 Top LMS Reports

  1. Enrollment rates
  2. Logged in vs. completions
  3. Last login
  4. Learner progress
  5. Learner participation and engagement
  6. Total time spent in lessons
  7. Online assessments
  8. Knowledge-gain
  9. Certificates Earned
  10. Satisfaction

Enrollment rates

enrollment rates

Your program may be tightly controlled, and you know exactly who is participating and when. Open-enrollment programs allow for less control, so a report that shows how many people enrolled will help you understand interest. 

In the above example, you can see at a glance the vast difference between enrollment from month to month. May had very few compared to October.

That may be expected to you, for example if you do did a big promotional push in October. But if you didn’t, this report can help you look elsewhere for external influences that are affecting your registration.

Logged in vs. completions

logged vs completions

It’s easy to focus on the successful completions in a course (see below section on certificates). If you compare that information to the number of logins, you’ll find some interesting trends. 

If the numbers are even—good job! You’ve got great engagement from the beginning to end. If not, you can start to see deeper.

In this example above of the diversity training course, seven times the number of people logged in vs. completed. This tells you that many people started the course but dropped out before finishing. It’s a good idea to measure this so you can identify any barriers to completion. Sometimes this is poor alignment with participants (i.e., the wrong people are signing up for the course).

Last login

last login

Looking at the last login date on a course will help you zero in on people who have disappeared. This is crucial for follow-up. A good practice is to check this at least once per week for ongoing courses.

Learner progress

learner progress

Checking learner progress will reveal how far along completion they are. You can see which modules they’ve completed and if they’re moving at a rate you’re expecting. Looking at student specific usage lets you monitor each person’s performance so you can step in if you see anything unusual. This sort of report, when compared against others, can help you identify high performers vs. low performers.

Learner participation and engagement

daily traffic

Checking daily statistics to see who’s logged into the course can be helpful to show the busiest and slowest days. The above chart shows that in September, traffic spiked. It also reveals that Mondays, Fridays and Sundays are some of the highest trafficked. When those bars are low and are consistently dropping off, you might need to do some outreach.

COVID-19 & Women's Health: What You Need To Know

Total time spent in lessons

total time spent in lessons

Participants in your course need to be spending enough time in the lessons to benefit. If you look at the total time they’ve spent in lessons, you can get a great overview. The example above shows how long people are spending in each page and how many times each page has been accessed. The result is that you can assess how invested they are in the online course or if interest is lagging.

Online assessments

online assessments

Online assessments are one of the best gauges of how much progress your participants are making and how well they’re performing. It’s best if you can issue a pre-course assessment and a post-course assessment so you can see the each person’s improvement (see Knowledge-gain below).

Assessments individually or collectively can also tell you if the information you’re delivering is being received the way you want it to.

Knowledge-gain

Some of the best indicators for knowledge gain are pre-course assessments, post-course assessments and self-assessments, which should all align with the learning objectives you developed in advance. Ask participants the same questions before the training as after, and you’ll be able to see an increase or plateau of knowledge. If increase isn’t significant enough, it’s time to change something.

Knowledge-gain is an improvement percentage that is the ratio of positive change. How to Calculate Improvement Percentage from Sciencing has a helpful how-to.

Certificates earned

Certificates are a powerful motivator for many employees, and they’re required for many healthcare training courses. Checking your LMS reports for how many certificates were earned—and by whom—can help you make sure you’re reaching your objectives.

Satisfaction

satisfaction

With the work it takes to implement a training program, it can be difficult to find time and resources to evaluate the effectiveness of it. By ignoring how well (or poorly) your training program is engaging participants and making a difference in their work, you could be wasting time and money.

A learner satisfaction survey, even a simple one, can help you gather data on how much your participants value the training. Higher satisfaction equals higher engagement and success overall.

Some basic satisfaction questions you can add into your evaluations are:

  • The facilitator answered all my questions.
  • How would you rate your experience in this course?
  • Which parts of the training are most useful in your job?

Make sure these LMS reports are included in your regular monitoring, bonus if you can schedule them to be delivered the week before you’re due to submit your grant report. Even if you don’t have a grant reporting requirement, still fold in these best practices so you know how your training is performing and make timely adjustments as needed.

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18 Ways To Motivate Distance Learners in Professional Development

Your agency has probably restructured at least some of its professional development training as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. You may have shifted to online learning or at least holding some trainings via remote platforms like Zoom.

It’s handy to have a distance learning safety net so you can keep passing information on to your staff. But just because the technology is there doesn’t mean your team’s motivation is too. Times are tough, they might not be engaged in the same way as usual.

Even in normal times, it’s tough to keep learners motivated in an elearning course. For starters, visual cues are hard to read from a distance, so instructors have trouble responding on an individual basis. Many self-guided courses are lackluster and not tied to learning goals, so they can be hard for participants to follow.

How to motivate learners

The secret to motivating learners is to hit them from all directions, and make sure every step is designed to promote enthusiasm in what they’re learning.

In general terms, this means ensuring your staff knows why they’re taking a training and that the value is clear. It also means giving them educational materials that are designed for adult learners. Grown-ups need to juggle competing demands, preferred learning styles, and their own familiarity with the delivery method.

Following is a list of ways you can create an environment that encourages learning and help staff feel inspired to build their own skills.

1. Make sure training is relevant for their job.

Participation will drop like a stone if a course doesn’t make sense to the people taking it. Unfortunately, many courses are too general or not addressed to the right group. Learning new skills can keep employees engaged and dedicated to their jobs. It helps if you can merge training with staff learning goals.

2. Get buy-in from supervisors.

Participants’ supervisors need to be included from the beginning. A supervisor can make sure employees participate and also help answer any questions that arise in the course. Consider enlisting superiors as coaches for the best results.

3. Build anticipation for the course.

Treat your training launch with some showmanship. Deliver some teasers ahead of schedule that let participants know something exciting is coming up.

4. Promise a reward.

Some training needs to be done, no matter what, such as HIPAA or privacy rights. But you can tie a reward to successful completion in other modules. This might be a certificate of completion, some paid time off, new equipment for use on the job, additional training opportunities, or end-of-course lunches.

5. Allow time in their schedule for learning.

Allow an afternoon or a certain number of hours to complete training. This helps if they have a busy schedule that competes with their attention.

6. Set benchmarks.

If your course is skills-based, first take measurements of where staff skills are. Tell your employees why their skills are being measured. Then upon completion, measure progress against your benchmark. One idea is to assess ability with one task during performance appraisals. Employees will also equate the course with an overall job requirement.

7. Share learning objectives.

Frame the training by sharing what the course will be about and give staff a target. If they know what they should be learning ahead of time, that helps them know what they should focus on.

8. Ask learners to set their own goals.

Similar to the above tip, you can encourage learners to state what they want to get out of the course. Thinking about how the material fits in with their life can help make it more relevant.

9. Call and/or email all participants at the start of class. 

Tell your staff from the beginning that you hope to connect with them as an individual and are invested in their success in the course.

COVID-19 & Women's Health: What You Need To Know

10. Cultivate a warm classroom where you, as the facilitator, are present and reachable. 

Provide your phone number and/or a frequently checked email account that your participants can rely on reaching you in a timely manner. Many people are unsure of online learning and nervous about taking courses. This strategy helps overcome their fears and boosts their contribution.

11. Nominate a champion.

Encourage community participation by asking participants to elect an “Inspirational Class Captain” to post motivational quotes in each module. The blog tool or the discussion Forum is a good place for this contribution.

12. Ask early and often what participants think.

A survey at the end of the course is good. Asking them throughout the course how the material relates to their work is even better. Learners will often forget details by the end of a course. Check in with polls that ask how relevant they think information is or how long it took them to complete a module. Also create a forum designed for general thoughts, and ask your instructor to get in the habit of asking for feedback.

13. Talk to participants.

Offer Skype, Zoom, or chat sessions to participants on a weekly basis. Offering these as set office hours is a great way to motivate participants to ask questions they need immediate answers to and to engage with you when they otherwise might not have.

14. Be careful with feedback.

Provide consistent, positive feedback and frame all negative feedback with a positive tone.

15. Offer “extra credit” activities/games each week if possible. 

Even if participants aren’t participating in the course for grades, very short quizzes can be pitched as games that add a layer of fun to the module and help to motivate the participants to continue on.

16. Include partners.

Create peer groups or peer partnerships to encourage collaboration and class participation. This could be community partners or interagency partners. You can use the Groups tool to create private collaboration space.

17. Follow up often.

Identify low participating participants and respond more to their posts to show that you’re tuned into them. Call and/or email participants who are not participating in class to show that you’re concerned about their presence in the classroom and offer support to help them succeed. 

18. Give help.

Technology scares some people. Be prepared to make it easy to succeed in an online course. Read some more tips about making your course accessible for people who have visual or physical limitations. Set up a demonstration before the course begins. Appoint coaches in the workplace who can offer assistance. Give a computer-literacy assessment before the course begins so you have a better idea of who will need additional help.

Originally published July 3, 2014, updated February 12, 2021.

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10 Tips for Making Your Online Training, Meetings, and Programs Successful

An online format for connecting with your staff is now the new norm. Agencies have spent the past year adapting traditional professional development and in-person meetings to online training and meetings when plans can still be uncertain.

[Read more: How to Create an Annual Training Plan for Your Program]

True, face-to-face trainings can make it feel easier to communicate and read the reactions of others in the room. But by following some best practices, you can keep your team connected and up-to-date on their education while avoiding disruptions and increasing engagement.

Remote training and meeting sessions aren’t identical to in-person education and events, but the good news is that distance learning systems and educational technology (EdTech) platforms are better than ever before. Here are some ways to make online meetings, workshops, and programs effective and productive. So, lower your anxiety levels and read on for 10 tips that will help you get more value out of your virtual training.

10 Tips for Making Your Online Training, Meetings, and Programs Successful

  1. Choose the Right Tool for the Training
  2. Optimize the Content
  3. Make a Plan
  4. Consider Time Zones and Schedules
  5. Send a Welcome Message
  6. Navigate Spam Filters
  7. Practice, Practice, Practice
  8. Keep Participants Engaged
  9. Provide Contact with Mentors or Coaches
  10. Follow up

1. Choose the Right Tool for the Session

The most important decision when you move training online is what tool you’ll use to offer it. Different situations and materials call for different solutions (you can learn more about what elearning platform works best for your needs with a training needs assessment).

If you’re doing a one-off training that takes no more than 1.5 hours, a webinar is a good choice, and you can use a tool like GoToMeeting, Join.me, Uber Conference, or Zoom. Learn more about a few popular video conferencing services.

If you need to repeat the training, need to offer certificates, or need more in-depth training, then self-guided online education is the solution you need. The fastest and easiest way to train your staff without being in the same room is through a learning and training subscription. Learning subscriptions are helpful so you’re not reinventing the wheel every time you train every worker.

A learning subscription lets you begin training within a few days. It’s a digital learning solution that provides 24/7 access to a complete catalog of interactive training courses and videos for anyone on your team who needs to build skills or meet training requirements. Learning subscriptions are helpful for existing and new hires because they make it easy to stay current as health recommendations are constantly changed and revised.

2. Optimize the Content

When the world started meeting and learning online, organizations had to find a way to present that information immediately. This meant that much of that information was poorly suited for online delivery. When you know what kind of platform you have, examine your content and make sure it fits the delivery platform.

3. Make a Plan

Unless you’re a pro at holding online trainings and meetings, having a careful plan is the key to a smooth event. A project plan helps you assign tasks, collaborate with others, increase engagement, and remove stress for everyone. Even if you’re the only one holding your online event, you should plot out the sequence of events and when they should happen.

At a minimum, include these main categories in an elearning project plan, including task, milestone, and person responsible. Here are some example categories for an online training event:

  • Registration
  • Text or content writing
  • Graphic design
  • Platform set up
  • Rehearsal
  • Follow-up

4. Consider Time Zones and Schedules

Nearly everyone has mixed up meeting times with someone in a different time zone. Consider where your online learners are in the US when you set your event, and think about when people are free.

You might even survey your participants to find out when it’s most convenient for them to meet. There are a lot of good scheduling tools out there, but Doodle is a good one that’s easy to use:

virtual training

5. Send a Welcome Message

Welcome messages help you set expectations and highlight anything important when people are most attentive. If you’re hosting a meeting, then send a reminder and an agenda instead. This can help participants feel more comfortable with the online training or meeting format.

Use your welcome message to give participants a quick preview of the virtual event, give them contact information, prerequisites, and give them major deadlines they can copy into their calendars.

6. Navigate Spam Filters

Spam filters are notorious for blocking messages from anyone, especially if your team works at a healthcare facility, which seem to have even more strict blocking measures. Double-down on your notifications and messaging by sending in multiple formats: email, automatic notification, Slack, text.

You might even reach out to your participants via their personal email addresses if possible, since so many people are home and might not have access to their work email accounts.

COVID-19 & Women's Health: What You Need To Know

7. Practice, Practice, Practice

Before you step into that virtual meeting space, know what you’re doing by practicing, multiple times if needed. This will give you a chance to try out new technology tools, new material, and be ready for unplanned events.

“Find a group of people who will support your learning curve and practice with the technology. Ideally you gather a group large enough to practice different features of the platform you’ve selected, such as organizing breakout rooms” advises Laura Wells, a trainer who regularly delivers leadership training around San Francisco in person.

She has started delivering distance training sessions for clients, and is currently planning to deliver an exceptional virtual format of the Search Inside Yourself program (details at info@awakeinbusiness.com) for which she is a certified teacher. She needed to quickly get up-to-speed in April when one training was rapidly converted to an online format.

“Practicing saved the day,” she says.

“It’s tricky to switch smoothly between screen sharing of content to organizing breakout rooms without losing focus (yours and the participants). Going through that a few times in practice made it much less awkward during the live training,” Wells says. “I was so happy to get through the awkwardness with friends first! And that first April session received excellent evaluation marks from the participants.”

Some tools, such as GoToWebinar, let you start events in practice mode without leading a live session. Even if you fake your own practice mode, run through the event with other presenters, moderators, hosts, and organizers to perfect it before your participants show up.

“I also think a benefit of the practice session with friends is stress management. You don’t feel so alone in it. Sitting in your living room facilitating a training can feel a bit surreal,” Wells says. “It’s great to have the practice people already there in the room with you.”

8. Keep Participants Engaged

For some people, the idea of not being able to sit in the same room with an presenter is a big turn-off. “Remote” learning doesn’t have to feel far away if you focus on building community with your online group.

Encourage the presenter to introduce themselves to your staff and ask them to share information with one another. This will help build a personal rapport. It can also be helpful to build periodic conference calls into a course, or create virtual office hours, so participants can interact with the presenter. A mentoring structure can help too, if you can pair participants with experienced workers.

Some other best practices for increasing engagement:

  • Ask early and often what participants think.
  • Offer rewards, such as certificates or CEUs.
  • Ask everyone to turn on their video cameras to help everyone connect with each other.
  • Remind participants to be in a quiet place, mute themselves when not speaking, and use a headset.

9. Provide Contact with Mentors or Coaches

If an employee works in an office or clinic, they have regular contact with managers or coaches and can use new skills with their supervisors right away. Some remote workers don’t have regular access to supervisors or mentors, so what they pick up in class could sit stagnant. This is one of several hidden challenges of training remote learners.

If mentors aren’t in the participants’ communities, put them there, at least virtually. This could mean setting up phone calls with a coach to discussion implementation of the skills or requiring regular online check-ins through the forums or email. A little extra attention, and accountability, can make a big difference in a team member implementing what they learned faster and better.

10. Follow Up

When you’re finished, follow up with participants right away. Ask them for feedback so you can improve your next session. If you’ve taught them new skills, find out how and where they’re applying them and what they might still need to know.

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