by Christopher Pappas
Simulations are fun and entertaining, but beyond knowledge retention, you want them to foster behavioral change. How can you use interactive online training tools to achieve this?
5 Ways To Promote Good Workplace Habits With eLearning Simulations
The typical workplace eLearning simulations look like low-end video games. It’s not aimed at commercial gamers, so it doesn’t have that level of capacity and polish. (Commercial video games often have budgets that rival blockbuster movies and straight-to-stream productions.) They do involve lots of gaming characteristics though, whether they’re serious games or ice-breakers. How can you use these online training simulations to develop good work habits and eliminate the bad ones?
1. Keep Communication Lines Open
In any relationship – even a corporate one – mutual communication is key. This goes beyond creating contact tools (though it helps). You want modules within your simulation that facilitate feedback. Users should have options to text or email instructors mid-session and ask for help. Or a pause button that allows them to revisit the relevant course content to brush up on their knowledge. Many simulators record game-play and allow trainees to review their turns and see where they went wrong. If they’d like some human feedback, avail it to them. But beyond offering the tools, foster an open office environment so they’re comfortable asking questions. You might also consider a built-in course guide who offers pointers during the session or directs them to relevant support resources.
2. Let Them Learn From Their Mistakes
Adult learners don’t do well with spoon-feeding, so don’t offer assistance unless it’s requested. Another pet peeve is pointing out their flaws and making them feel singled out. They need to know about gaps in a subtler way that encourages them to improve instead of alienating them. Program your training simulation for automated feedback and debriefing. This way, your trainees can access an overview without your interference or supervision. You can also automate the feedback itself but make it optional. For example, when they make a certain move within the simulation, offer closed pop-ups. Trainees can click on them if they want guidance/assessment. Something like, “Using this device makes it easier to complete your task.” Or, “This road leads to a dead-end … do you want to try an alternate path?” They’ll only open if trainees want them to. This way, learners can make their own mistakes, then pick different choices next time they play. These prompts are also helpful when they’re replaying their turn to see where they messed up.
3. Nudge Them To Reflect On Their Performance
Set up your simulations with mandatory gaps between. For example, they can repeat a simulation as many times as they like, but they can only do one a day. This guarantees downtime between simulations, allowing their newly acquired knowledge to percolate. You can also initiate an “exit interview” after each round. Use leading questions. Analytics will show you the exact spots where they struggled, and how. But your trainees’ questions will give you a window into their mind-frame and thought process. You can gauge what they’re thinking and how they’re feeling. It shows you know what moves to make to achieve your behavior-change training goals. Another way to facilitate reflection is to invite them to join your training social media group to share their experiences. They can express their thoughts or concerns regarding their simulation performance. Then tap into the expertise of their peers to spot hidden gaps.
4. Offer Contextual Practice Sessions With Real-World Applications
By nature, simulated experiences seem far removed from daily life. There’s an element of fantasy and unreality. This helps in certain settings because they can experience complex, potentially risky office scenarios within a safe space. But sometimes, trainees need a worldlier experience. You can achieve this by setting the simulation inside a virtual replica of your office space. Or you could draw out the skills they’ve learned and set up a real-life demo. Blended learning systems do this really well. So, for example, after multiple terror drill simulations, arrange for one offline. It could literally save a life. You should also incorporate realistic personas to expose them to customers/co-workers they’ll find in the workplace.
5. Make Resource Recommendations And Follow Up
Ordinarily, supplementary reading is for the academically inclined, the gifted students who finish their curriculum way ahead of their classmates. It’s not as easy to spot this characteristic in adult learners. Unless their jobs are directly intellectual, they’ll probably “dumb down” their book-smarts to fit in with office peers. In this case, metrics are your friend. Evaluate how fast they finished the course, or what pages/chapters they dragged. Now you have an inkling of their progress. As well as if the online training simulations are challenging enough to actually encourage behavioral change. You can use heat maps and screen recorders to help identify trouble spots. Curate additional materials to help them with these struggle zones, and gently follow up. You want to be sure they used those resources and benefitted from them. If not, you can find alternatives that do connect with them on a personal level and present the perfect difficulty level.
Important Tools For eLearning Simulations
Online training isn’t just about teaching your staff new things. You want to change their perspectives and actions at a deeper level. But how can you use online training simulations to change staff behavior for the better? Offer communication tools, and more importantly, a safe, open environment that encourages honest feedback. Give trainees space to learn from their errors in a judgment-free space. Provide the space and guidance to assess themselves objectively, without guilt, shame, or blame. Create opportunities to apply their simulated knowledge in the real world. And don’t forget a JIT library with resources and supplementary references. Make them easily available, and follow-up to gauge their usage … and usefulness.
What mistakes should you avoid to ensure that your online training simulations are facilitating real-world application and causing a positive change? This guide features the top pitfalls to steer clear of and tips to create more meaningful eLearning simulations.