Designing Effective Corporate Training Programs
By Arijit Banerjee
In today’s competitive market with new ideas, new technologies, process improvements, upgraded quality at reduced cost; organizations are increasingly caring about providing training programs to employees for professional development and personal growth. Training programs also help to foster a strong learning culture within the organization. And such programs are effective only when participants engage, understand, participate, and apply the learnings at work for the organization to realise its business objective(s). Workplace ought to promote learning and be a place where concepts are put into play. Some fields do provide for such learning e.g. simulators for driving lessons, astronauts and pilots. However many disciplines do not have this “luxury”. Professionals working in such areas rarely get a chance to actually practise in a safe setting before getting to work.
It is, therefore, imperative that training programs try to create a learning space similar to the “live workspace”. For effective training programs, the delivery has to:
- truly reflect the “real world”
- simulate the workspace
- integrate company-specific case studies into the curriculum
- discuss and utilize stories, business cases, and scenarios that may have more than one outcome.
The direct objective of any intervention is to help employees gain more technical depth, leadership skills and professional competence. Participants perform better on the job, successfully assume leadership roles, and support organizational goals are the indirect objectives. To help employees learn new skills, retain what they learn, and effectively use their knowledge at work, our training solutions focus on both content that has to be accessible and engaging, and on the methods of delivery. Our delivery models feature:
Pedagogies like case studies, stories and scenarios, role-plays, and simulations.
New learning methods such as the flipped classroom, active learning, and experiential learning
New delivery methods such as collaborative and online teaching, and blended forms that allow collaboration and foster “outside the box” thinking.
What it takes:
One of our most successful programs, “The Architect Competence Development Program” for example, aims at providing depth and building expertise across different competence areas. We bear in mind, such programs that have to help professionals gain expertise across multiple areas also run the potential risk of not providing an integrative view of the knowledge as each of the modules addressing different competency areas can be to different depth and breadth. If the program is not conceived and delivered with deliberate attention to finding and making connections across different modules within the program, participants may not see how one course relates to another. It is thus extremely important for corporate level training programs to first cater to the development of critical thinking skills, which seeks to make sense and create coherence.
Towards achieving the above objectives, our training programs focus heavily on “thinking” skills. These programs also aim at improving competence across multiple areas. As we continue to work on innovations in our training programs, we bear in mind that innovation comes in the execution more than the idea itself.
An example of such an innovation in execution was in one of the sessions in our Architect Leadership Program delivered for a cohort of architects in the healthcare domain. The session, DfX - Design for Excellence, witnessed Collaborative Teaching by two of our senior faculty members. Collaborative teaching models fall into two broad categories. In the first category, there is a primary faculty that actually runs the session, ably assisted by a secondary faculty that assists in coordinating in-class activities. The secondary faculty helps to coordinate and contribute to the class proceedings as necessary.
In the second category, the faculty members are engaged in paired/team teaching that demands greater faculty collaboration than the first one. This method of collaborative teaching aims at increasing curricular coherence, and promote sharing of ideas and expertise. An important outcome of this category of collaborative teaching is that faculty members are able to bring in learning and ideas from/to other disciplines by sharing their individual expertise.
The Design for Excellence covered the advantages of applying DfX methods. It also discussed the tools and techniques appropriate for a given desired outcome. Furthermore, it highlighted the design aspects that need to be considered and taught the participants how to reflect on a given design solution and provided recommendations for alternative design solutions.
While the first faculty member, a UX expert, focused on the attributes that are an integral part of DfX. The second contributed to the class by way of real examples and scenarios from the context of healthcare. Both the faculty members had worked on domains as diverse as telecom to automotive to healthcare. The session also brought interesting examples from both faculty members on sustainable design principles for products at large, and healthcare products in particular.
The second part of the session was in workshop mode, where the participants had to design a wearable healthcare device. They were divided into groups and each group was asked to work on one specific aspect of the product viz. User Interface, Serviceability, Functionality etc. They worked in independent groups to design the product. The exercise was successful in modelling active learning for the participants. As they came back into the plenary, the presentations helped share ideas. Futher, the presentation encouraged them to explore their own attitudes as they answered questions from their peers. The engaging discussions and feedback from faculty and peers demonstrated the effectiveness of the program. Futhermore, the session helped the participants to fine tune their design and create a holistic product that met the persona that they had targeted.
The Collaborative Teaching Method:
As the two faculty members participated in collaborative delivery, they moved away from their individual disciplines and expert areas, to a broader view of Design for Excellence. The collaborative teaching method provided the opportunity to understand that:
- faculty members who are equally competent can collaborate and cooperate within a classroom setting
- faculty members become learners at times, and learners also teach
- diversity is celebrated
- all contributions are valued
- all members of the class draw upon their past experiences and contribute towards the class proceedings
As we strive for excellence in our training programs, we continue to look at innovative training concepts. This innovation is not at the cost of using the strengths of traditional methods and concepts. We explore new and innovative methods using technologies and media that are available for training delivery. Furthermore, we look to craft combinations that are innovative and deliver business outcomes!
About the Author
About the Author:
Head of Programs
Manipal Global Academy of IT (MGAIT)
Vishnupriya Raghavan has a PhD in Information Systems and Operations. She also holds Master’s degrees in Mathematics and Information Systems. An educational professional with a distinguished career in providing educational instruction and overseeing academic affairs, she has served as the Director of Programs at Institute of Product Leadership, Program Head for MBA and MSc programs affiliated to Edith Cowan University - Australia, Asia Pacific University - Malaysia, Cardiff Metropolitan University and Anglia Ruskin University - UK, Bangalore University and Visveswaraya Technological University - Belgaum.
She has spearheaded the development of Masters in Science (Information Technology with specialization in Mobile Apps) curriculum in collaboration with Anglia Ruskin University and Cardiff Metropolitan University, UK, Masters in Business Administration (specialization in Information Systems) curriculum in collaboration with Edith Cowan University, Australia. As the Director of Academic Programs Office at the Institute of Product Leadership, she was instrumental in shaping the curriculum and crafting the combination of content, instructional methods and assessments for the Masters in Business Administration program in Product Leadership.