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Training Trends

Training conferences provide insights into what is happening in the field of training and development. Attending the annual American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) conference or Training or another of the specialty training conferences now available, is educational. These are several of the trends heard about.

Multimedia and Online Training

“If you’re not in multimedia or online training, you’d better be thinking about it,” said one trainer to another at a recent Training conference. Both the Exposition and the Conference sessions echoed this sentiment. A recent ASTD conference featured less multimedia, but online providers of educational sessions proliferated. Even though the current move in organizations has been to offer training on CDs, Web-based training (WBT) is not far behind.

As one booth worker explained, “There are basically three market segments these companies are going after. They want to be aggregators of content from whom organizations purchase a set of courses to offer internally. They want to develop and offer their own courses for an annual or pay by course fee. Or, they want to offer classes to individual consumers.”

The quality of the courses varies as does the amount and type of multimedia used in their presentation.

Additional Topics Generated by Web Based Training (WBT)

This move to online learning has created several sub-conversations. One is Electronic Performance Support Systems (EPSS) that deals with the interface between people and software. Another is creating and offering courses that trainees will actually finish; the drop out rate in self-monitored training is high.

In a less positive direction, some providers of traditional training were attempting to move traditional, manual-based courses online. The resultant courses looked like training manuals online and did not tap into the advantages of the Web including interconnectivity and the ability to publish real-time, up-to-the-minute information.

Finally, training professionals were discussing how to integrate a real, live instructor and peer interaction with Web-based or CD training.

Performance Consulting

Human Performance Technology or performance consulting is changing the face of the traditional training department forever. Few training organizations offer trainer-led, generic classes as the only, or even major, solution to organizational challenges and opportunities any more.

Emphasis is now placed on providing a range of potential solutions and assists that include in-depth needs assessment via interviews, surveys and focus groups. Alternatives to training offered by progressive human resource departments include coaching, organizational development or planned change consultation and interventions, facilitated planning sessions and large group processes. The training that is provided is often custom-designed with stated outcomes congruent with the direction of the business.

Performance Management

Another trend that is sweeping the field of human resources is the integration of training and development into an entire performance management system. Organizations are moving away from the long-established, one-on-one appraisal or performance review with a boss held once per year.

They are designing performance management systems, instead, that provide an individual with personal and professional developmental goals and training opportunities. In a performance management system, people receive more frequent feedback from many points of view including peers, direct reporting staff members and the boss. The feedback, known as 360-degree feedback, provides a more balanced set of observations for the employee.

The performance management system also integrates a performance development plan for the individual. This plan assists the employee to continue to develop his skills and abilities. For these plans, preference is accorded to integrated corporate university courses and internally custom designed and presented training.

Performance development plans may include coursework, but also provide learning activities on the job such as special projects, serving on cross-functional teams, and skill stretching job assignments.

Conclusions about Training Trends

One training trend is for sure. Traditional classroom training is no longer the exclusive opportunity to learn. The age of training that includes training CDs, email classes, online learning, blended learning and university degrees online is exploding. These training opportunities are here to stay.