Here are 8 tips on evaluating compliance courses designed to make sure you pick the right one for your organisation.
One of the key problems for any organisation that outsources materials or services is how to ensure you’re getting what you need and to separate the reality from the hype. A lot depends on having in-house expertise to make the call on what works and what doesn’t.
Compliance training is no different. Before you acquire an online training course have your own experts take it out of the box and review it. You’ll need to check it for applicability and accuracy: does it cover your compliance training objectives in a comprehensive and accessible way? You’ll also need to trial it with your employees: does it engage them? And finally, there’s the technical bit: how will it fit into your existing systems and processes?
With any training you need to establish objectives. Buying in ready-made compliance training can make financial and logistical sense. It’s ready to go and because it’s focused at a large audience it can have the benefit of industry-standard content reviewed by experts.
But, your audience may be subtly different from the e-learning provider’s mass market. So, you need to evaluate any training course in line with your own learning objectives. And if it doesn’t meet all of them or doesn’t quite align with some of them, can the ready-made online course be tailored to meet them?
Many online courses maintain they are customisable. But you need to be sure what this actually means? Is it just that they can be branded with your company’s logo? Or is it true customisation that allows you to pick and choose from a suite of learning objects and enables you to incorporate your own content and approach into the training?
It’s been a constant refrain about classroom compliance training that it’s just a box-ticking exercise, a case of going through the motions. It frustrates learners and is ineffectual. Poor training presents a real risk of employees being non-compliant in their actions.
The way to avoid this is to make sure training is memorable. You can do this by applying certain learning strategies to make learning stick. Make sure that any online course isn’t just another version of the classroom lecture. Look for flexibility in modes of presentation. Make sure the online resources are genuinely accessible online and not just trapped in an impenetrable LMS.
A key factor in ensuring engagement is making the content relevant to your employees. If learners don’t make the connection between what they’re learning and how and where they will apply it, it’ll be lost on them.
Online courses can use strategies to make that connection clearer. Learning strategies such as the use of scenarios can help ground the learning in the working environment. Scenarios show the learner what’s in it for them, turning compliance from an abstract notion into key working practice.
Here’s where customisation can play a role. If you can swap in your own material for generic content, you can drive home the relevance for the learner. Training mirrors the kind of circumstances that they’re likely to face in their day-to-day work. Localisation, both in the sense of providing training in a local language, and also in taking account of local differences, can increase relevance.
One of the great criticisms of compliance or indeed any training is that it’s a burden and represents a cost in lost productivity. Employees are taken away from their work to sit training as a one-off event, most of which they forget once it ends. It doesn’t matter whether it’s delivered in a classroom or online.
However, online learning potentially has a solution to that difficulty in the form of microlearning. Instead of expecting employees to take an hour out of their day to complete a course, why not invest in smaller, bite-size resources that they can access on the job? This brings learning into the workflow increasing relevance and makes it accessible at the point of need. It also allows for remedial training and recognises prior learning: i.e. employees access only what they need to know and determine their own, real learning needs.
So, look for compliance training catalogues that allow the reuse and repurposing of content giving you a library of resources that can be added to as the need arises (e.g. a small change in compliance regulations).
This goes hand in hand with the need to be able to reuse and repurpose content. Developments in mobile connectivity means that access information need only be a click or a swipe away. In evaluating any online course, you need to check whether it’s available across platforms and devices. Does the potential to repurpose content make it accessible on mobile phones in the form of a microsite or app? Is the content available 24/7 and outside the confines of the office?
If you have this degree of accessibility you can take compliance training out of the training room and away from the desk(top). This means training becomes part of day-to-day performance and its value is seen and delivered in the workplace.
We’ve seen the limits and the dangers of treating compliance training as a box-ticking exercise. But organisations may require compliance training to deliver certification and accreditation. You need to check which industry standards their training meets. Are they approved by industry-leading accreditation bodies?
Even if you don’t require your compliance training to offer certification, you still need to ensure that it’s being used correctly and giving the results you need. A key element of that is assessment. Again, this needs to go further than answering a few true/false statements. Pre-assessment should be a feature so that you can understand what your learners already know and recognise prior knowledge so that employees who already have that knowledge can be fast-tracked and exposed only to training that is relevant and useful to them. That helps keep them engaged.
The scenario-based approach can also be applied to assessments. Here learners are asked to evaluate a situation and make a decision based on information given in a particular context. This is the kind of challenge an employee might face in his or her job, so again the training is perceived as relevant and focused.
Assessment is one way of checking that the training is working, but you need to be able to track access and implementation. An online course in itself isn’t sufficient, there needs to be a reporting component. You’ll need to know not just the number of learners taking the course, but also be able to check their progress and determine whether they need to repeat elements or do other remedial work. Some training catalogues come bundled with a LMS which may allow to generate reports and have assets like dashboard to show learner attainment. If you already have your own LMS, check that the online training can work with it.
If you have training available more widely and outside an LMS, consider how you can track that and offer feedback to learners. Does your online training include xAPI tracking?
One key piece of feedback from any training is to learn what you or your employees don’t know. It’s only by identifying the gaps that you can hope to fill them.
This is by no means a comprehensive checklist, but it points you to the key areas and features you need to consider when adopting an online compliance training course. You can use it to evaluate any compliance training and make sure you’re getting exactly what you want: effective, engaging training that ensures your employees follow compliance best practice.
Paul Healy has worked in the learning industry since 2003 in sales, learning consultancy, and programme management. He specialises in assisting companies with change management and innovation agendas.
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