The wireless communications industry is wrought with constant change. Suppliers who don’t stay ahead of the game lose customers. Training is no exception. In response to these challenges, a segment of Motorola’s training business has examined learners’ changing needs and projected and implemented a future direction for training. Future focus is on the evolution of instructor resources and integrating learning-to-learn concepts into technical courses. Implementing learning-how-to-learn strategies into a blended curriculum is a unique approach to solving learners’ issues while transitioning to a more cost-effective course delivery. Critical to the organization’s solvency, this training organization has determined that the method of delivery and the evolution of the instructional resources must meet the needs of today’s learners.
Over the past several years, the technical-training business has been plagued with issues that have affected the quality of training, customer satisfaction and profitability. The maturation of both customer and technology, coupled with the increased pressures to reduce cost, has resulted in a significant decrease in demand for instructor-led training. Today’s customers are looking for more computer-based training solutions. These are typically more cost effective and convenient because of flexible scheduling.
Meeting Technical Learners’ Needs
For this Motorola training business, significant headway has been made in implementing a blended approach. Based upon total instructional hours, the curriculum consists of approximately 20 percent computer-based training and 80 percent face-to-face instruction. Synchronous Web deliveries have been a particularly well-received method of transmitting knowledge to a geographically dispersed audience because it is convenient, cost-effective, promotes student interaction and is led by a subject-matter expert.
If Motorola is to continue serving its customer base in the training realm successfully, the training organizations have to know their customers—their students. To “know” the customer in this case is to have thorough knowledge of the learners’ job tasks, learning styles and personality types.
Historically, technical-training courses have not contained learning-how-to-learn components. With continuing cost pressures on businesses, the employee of the 21st century will need to learn how to learn. The future technical-training courses will need to encompass learning-how-to-learn components. Incorporation of learning-how-to-learn components is critical to a student’s ability to adapt to blended and computer-based training environments. So, how did this training business get there?
Step one immersed the instructors in a learning-how-to-learn workshop to raise their awareness and get them comfortable with various learning-how-to-learn activities. Icebreakers can incorporate learning-how-to-learn activities such as asking students to describe previous learning situations that were either distressing or satisfying. This helps students get in touch with the predictors of their personal learning success. Instructors are required to implement end-of-day critiques and insert at least two other learning-how-to-learn activities in each weeklong course they teach. Eventually, reflective writing as part of hands-on lab activities will be incorporated.
As part of the learning-how-to-learn workshop, the instructors are exposed to a variety of instruments that gauge learning style including Kolb’s Learning Style Inventory, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences. Additionally, reciprocal teaching strategies, such as summarizing, questioning, clarifying, paraphrasing and predicting, are emphasized in the workshop. The technical trainers are now expected to view the processes of learning from various angles and incorporate these techniques in their courses.
The implications for intentionally incorporating learning-how-to-learn strategies within the technical training curriculum should equate to a competitive advantage for the Motorola technical-training organization. In fact, customer-satisfaction results for the training organization are rising along with the number of learners attending courses. Learner comments center on aspects of the instructor’s facilitation skills. According to Corinne Miller, director of Motorola University, “Integrating learning-to-learn strategies has powerful implications. This networks and enterprise training organization has used an innovative approach to invigorate technical-training content with practical learning-to-learn exercises. As a result, within a six-month period, attendance and level-one customer-satisfaction survey results have increased 36 percent and 4 percent respectively, and end-of-course test scores are up 9 percent, indicating greater retention.” In the ideal training transaction, the trainer strives to understand the trainee as a learner with a personal view of learning and knowledge. As a result, technical training will be seen as a process not only for arranging conditions and environments for learning, but also for helping people learn more efficiently and effectively.
Ann Giese is the director of Motorola Networks and Enterprise Training and Technical Publications. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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