Lessons Learned: Online E-Business TrainingJanette Toral
This paper intends to present a perspective on how training takes place in many forms that I got exposed to. As ICT and Internet presented new tools that trainers and students can use, its advantages and limitations shall be discussed as well.
There are many ways that training can take place. They are:
- One-on-one training. This is now popularly referred to as coaching or mentoring. In this method, there’s high interaction between the student and trainer. In order for this to be productive, the student must also take the task of learning independently and seek for clarification with the trainer. Otherwise, the student will be limited to what the trainer has to give, which is often perceived to what may be needed by the student at that time or stage.
- Classroom training. In this set-up, there’s one trainer and numerous students. The bigger the size, the bigger the challenge and risk of disseminating quality learning. To increase chances of success, on-the-spot activities will have to be organized and create groups to stimulate peer interaction. Groups, with no more than five (5) members, will have to be constantly changed in composition. This dynamism challenges the student to be adaptable and recognize one’s potential for team management and leadership.
- Online training: Blended learning. There are two types of online learning. The first one is done in combination with classroom training. I used this technique to produce tangible evidence of learning. Last May 2004, CBCPWorld invited me to conduct a 3-days ICT for Educators Training that took place in Dagupan. There were 40 computers and 80 participants (where 8 out of 10 were women). These are staff, registrars, principals, and teachers where majority have no ICT experience. Conducting the training is a tough task as evidence is necessary to prove that learning has taken place. This is where I used Moodle (http://www.moodle.org), a free and open source software. I used Moodle as a system to document my lecture and post the seatwork tasks. Students afterwards will logon, read the lesson, perform the seatwork, and upload it. For questions, they can ask it in person or initiate an online dialogue with the trainer. Students can also be given the task to do a peer review. In large classroom training where PCs and Internet access is available, Moodle as a tool gets immediately integrated.
- Online training: E-Mail or Web-Based. In creating an initial point of awareness, I utilize e-mail based workshop as a tool and subscribed to GetResponse (http://www.getresponse.com) to manage it. I prefer this medium as the content gets pushed to the student. As Internet speed is not guaranteed, e-mail based workshops are bandwidth-friendly too. I was told by those who’ve taken it that they print and read it whenever they get the chance. Sometime last year, I tried initiating a pure web-based training. It failed as it requires a lot of discipline and decisiveness on the part of the students to stick to the schedule. Those who have poor writing skill got immediately intimidated with the seatwork that required perspective and experience sharing. It also takes a lot of patience for a student to be glued to a website for more than 10 minutes, do a lot of reading and interacting.
Online E-Business Training: Making it Work!
There are numerous e-business training initiatives. To make it work requires these factors to be present.
Practitioners as Trainers. Nothing beats hearing it from those who have done it themselves. They don’t necessarily need to have ‘e’ as a business but they should have at least used ‘e’ in business and for business.
- Right Audience. If measurable results are needed later on, it is important to get the right audience to the training where already have an idea on where they want to go and just want to learn how to utilize and maximize ‘e’ in their undertaking.
- Practical and user-friendly tools. Teach tools that the practitioners are using themselves so they can have an idea on where the practitioner is coming from. Some of the complicated tools today are designed and tested by non-practitioners. Wrong tools can lead to failure in training.
- Develop Leadership Skills. When meeting with SMEs who have thrived today, you’ll find that technical know-how and skills are only 10%-20% of what it takes to succeed in business, regardless of kind. 80%-90% still is in the character and leadership essence of the entrepreneur. That is why teaching pure technical and management know-how, no matter how complete, will not automatically lead to positive and long-lasting results. Practitioners who are also Trainers should deliberately integrate their values and perspectives in their teaching.
- Measure Results. It is important to validate the learning experience and how it helped them later on with their lives. The learning aspect is not necessarily limited to the technical knowledge but in the perspective sharing as well. Its influence in their daily lives is as significant. For those who are measuring the impact of a past training, it is vital to ask the following:
- Were you the right person to attend the training or is the training for you? Why?
- Were the trainers’ experience as practitioners helped or influenced you? How?
- Were the tools or checklist shared became of use to you? In what way?
- Were there lessons learned in perspective or the experience of going through it, remained valuable or have influence in you today?