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Process: exactly how will you deliver your environmental training?

When most of us think of training, we automatically go back to the crowded classrooms of our early educational experience. But these days, training can be delivered in many ways, most of them much more effective than a noisy room. 
Options for how and where you can deliver your environmental training include:
  • ‘classroom’ style at a venue suitable for interactive workshops
  • field visits to an operational site
  • the trainees’ own workplace 
  • electronically, with synchronous and/or asynchronous delivery, or training that is delivered live at agreed times, or can be accessed at times that suit the individual trainee during work or other time.
The first two options are classical ‘off-the-job’ training, taking place out of the normal workplace. This allows trainees to get away from work and concentrate more thoroughly on the training itself, as well as to meet new people who may do things differently in their workplaces. This type of training is thought to be more effective in inculcating concepts and ideas.
The third option can involve formal and/or informal on-the-job training. Formal on-the-job training is often associated with gaining a qualification and usually involves the trainee carrying out normal workplace tasks with the usual equipment, systems and documents, with the help of their training materials. Such on-the-job training is generally regarded as being as most effective for vocational work. In many workplaces, informal on-the-job training is often done in on-site ‘toolbox’ meetings held every day or once a week, and can be very effective at raising awareness and skill levels.
Electronic training (‘pedagogy empowered by technology’, as Mark Nichols calls it) is technology-supported training where the medium of instruction is computer technology, which is naturally suited to distance and flexible learning. Often called e-learning, it can also be used together with face-to-face teaching as a ‘blended learning’ solution. It can be used for informal training and also as part of gaining a formal qualification. 
E-learning or training is text-light, image heavy and interactive, so it’s great when people are poor readers, bad with numbers or learning in a new language – all very common workplace issues. It’s also great when:
  • large numbers of people are involved
  • working people need to study in their own time
  • you want to give your learners regular positive feedback 
  • large distances make it hard for everyone to get together. 
Your choice of training delivery method will depend on a range of factors including:
  • the numbers of people to be trained and how widely dispersed they are
  • the preferred learning style for each target group, as indicated by your persona and interview work 
  • any practical constraints, e.g. any preferred time of day and the length of time trainees can be released from work to attend training 
  • the availability of suitable and affordable training venues
  • the availability of field sites for theoretical activities and active construction sites willing to allow visitors 
  • transport requirements and costs
  • your overall budget and the involvement of other parties.
Can you see the relevance of your work on Partnership, Personas and Performance to informing your choice about how to deliver your training? What thoughts do you have about what would suit the situation facing you and your partners?
This blog is the fourth in my series of Top Five Tips for people starting to think about setting up or expanding an environmental training program. My last blog was on ‘Performance’ – and there is one more tip to come!
The information comes from part of section 2 of Chapter 7.2 of my book ‘Seven Steps to Successful Environmental Training’. Some of the material was drawn from Wikipedia at http://bit.ly/o6vFhn. I am indebted to many excellent trainers who have addressed these questions through the New Zealand Association of Training and Development and to Cheryl Regan and Innovaid, with whom I’ve developed interactive e-training. Thanks too as always to Ann Andrews for encouraging me to disseminate this material more widely.