I've been training developers for years now and - with the danger of sounding arrogant - I've become pretty good at it: It is not only about outlining a certain technology, but it also about explaining things in the proper wordings, with simple examples, with advanced details, making all entertaining enough to listen to. But there's a catch.
Same story again and again
Unfortunately, I've found myself repeating the same story: When explaining a certain technology like KnockoutJS in the checkout, there is a certain flow in the story. And the more often you explain this, the smoother the flow becomes, the more efficient the explanation. Which is nice. Repeating the story for new companies is fine.
But I started to scratch my head, when the same company asked me to come over to do the same story twice. It is making good money - don't get me wrong - but it is less economical to hire a trainer to tell a story in person, while that same story could be encapsulated in a video as well. The idea for an On-Demand training was born: Online videos plus written student notes, available whenever you feel like studying.
Lecture plus the opportunity to ask questions
A training is about transferring knowledge: The story that the teacher (me) tells is one part - the lecture. However, besides the lecture, there are other elements to a training that make a live training worthwhile: Additional explanations when needed, focus on those topics that are most interesting. But more importantly, the option to ask questions. Those questions are easily asked in person, but with on-demand video training that option seems to be missing.
Not just videos, but actual blended learning
This is where I would like to introduce the concept of blended learning. It is a general phrase and it could refer to many things. But in my story, it refers to the combination of on-demand courses (with videos and written materials) and a live feedback-loop with the trainer. With the new Blended Learning format of Yireo, I'm fusing the benefits of a live training together with the benefits of an On-Demand course.
Videos and written text is consumed at the pace of the student. But whenever there are questions, the teacher is there to answer them. This could be dealt with rather quickly via Slack or email. But on top of this, there are monthly live sessions of an hour, to help answer specific questions or provide further guidance. Each live session would have specific requirements, like specific lessons that need to be followed before attending, just to make sure that the knowledge level is up to a certain level.
Another benefit of live sessions is that the progress is better monitored. Or is it? Often, with a live online session, I find that attendees turn off their webcam and their microphone, so that it is hard to see whether people are paying attention or just playing Backgammon. Likewise, in a live in-person training, people could be paying attention, but the question would still be if that knowledge actually lands, if people are able to digest the knowledge and do something useful with it in practice.
With an On-Demand training, this is definitely different: It is up to the student to watch a video in-full and to read the student notes. It requires some responsibility, but most adults are supposed to be accountable for things like this. Just like with a live training, it can be harder to measure the success of the training. Unless you are turning it practical: After the training, an attendee should have gained certain knowledge: This could be tested by using control questions, practical coding assignments or even a certification. Or simply be monitoring the work in the field.
Company spirit of learning
This shouldn't be the sole responsibility of a trainer: It is up to the employer to make sure that the employee is happy. And in a happy setting, the employee (being a nerd) should be eager to learn new things as well. This means that a company should take care of dedicated learning time (every week one afternoon of play time?), resources (access to Yireo courses, but also the On-Demand courses of others) and perhaps help employees attend conferences and meetups as well. Additionally, a company could spend time on setting up a skill matrix, work together with an employee to fullfill her/his personal goals. The company should provide the settings so that employees are willing to learn.
Still, the Yireo Blended Learning program helps here as well: It provides assignments, Q&A sessions and tests to allow for measuring the success of the training anyway. Additionally, I have setup an Educational Subscription with a few agencies to intensely work together with them as well.
E-learning is of the future
With the COVID crisis, it was kind of a no-brainer to say that e-learning made sense. However, there is more to it: Some people learn just fine by watching videos (On-Demand trainings), others need interaction (Blended Learning trainings), others benefit from an in-depth relationship (Education Subscription). And we do still offer the live trainings as well :)
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