TTMWL: Episode 1 — “How to Take Your Training Remote” with Allogy’s Colin Forward

Training the Modern Workforce Live is a weekly show discussing training and talent development solutions and best practices. Hosted by Allogy CEO Colin Forward, each episode features an informative conversation with a prominent guest in the training world.

Watch the full video interview above, listen on any of the platforms below, or continue reading to see the full transcript (edited for clarity).

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About Colin Forward, CEO at Allogy

Colin Forward is the CEO of Allogy. For the last decade, Colin has provided major U.S. hospitals and federal agencies with distance learning solutions. He’s an alumnus of UCF’s Institute of Simulation & Training, where he studied mobile technology under Dr. David Metcalf while earning a degree in computer science as well as his MBA.

Episode Transcript

Adam Wagner:
Hello, everyone, and welcome to Allogy’s brand new podcast, Training the Modern Workforce Live, the weekly show discussing, well, training the modern workforce. Each week, we’ll talk about a different training topic, and make sure to keep your eye out for special guests and interviews from top training professionals.

With me, I have Colin Forward, CEO of Allogy. For the last decade, Colin has provided major U.S. hospitals and federal agencies with distance learning solutions. He’s an alumnus of UCF’s Institute of Simulation & Training, where he studied mobile technology under Dr. David Metcalf while earning a degree in computer science and his MBA.

This week, we’re going to be talking about how to take your training remote. With COVID-19 forcing companies to provide remote work opportunities, it’s never been more important to reevaluate your training program and offer remote training as well.

We’ve got some great questions on deck already, but feel free to ask any questions that may come up in the chat, and we’ll try to get to as many as we can. So with that, let’s get to some questions. Colin, you ready?

Colin Forward: I’m ready.

Adam Wagner: Okay, this one comes from Jason C. He asks, “COVID has everyone’s scrambling to move everything remote. But is this just temporary, or:

Do You See Things Like eLearning and Mobile Learning Replacing In-Person Training Altogether?

Colin Forward:
Yeah, so this is a good place to start because we’ve had this come up with people we already work with and people that are interested in introducing a new training technology. And the starting point is that eLearning and mobile learning are never intended—or at least not for the foreseeable future—to completely replace in-person training. There are some things that you really just can’t do with remote learning, such as, some of the people that we work with doing medical training, combat medics, trauma residents that are doing practical skills training where they’re working with mannequins or with other humans.

So, eLearning and mobile learning won’t ever replace those things, but even now where in-person training is more difficult to organize—and it’s already expensive in some cases, now it’s more expensive—what distance learning technology can do is make the investment in those face-to-face trainings more effective and reduce the amount of time that someone needs to spend in person training.

And there’s a couple of ways that that happens. The sort of overarching concept that really drives some of the learning strategy behind training technology is the forgetting curve—or the Ebbinghaus Effect, named after Hermann Ebbinghaus, who coined the term. The idea is that if you learn something once, you’re going to forget it, and the rate of forgetting is going to slow down—you’re going to remember things for longer the more that you get reminded by them or the more that you review them. And so, with mobile learning and eLearning, after doing an in-person training, you can make sure that you have a review schedule so that you’re flattening that forgetting curve—no pun on flattening curves.

So the other thing that we can do is ramp up to a session. And so that has a few beneficial effects. The first is that people are more familiar with the subject matter when they get to the in-person training. So, they’ve already been exposed to it, and like I was saying about the forgetting curve, this in-person training is now going to not just be that first time but it’s actually going to help start spacing out the time that someone’s going to retain that information.

The other benefit of using distance learning technology before an in-person session is that you can flip the classroom. So, the idea here is that if someone’s already been exposed to the material, you don’t have to focus on didactics when you’re in person, you can focus more on pulling apart difficult subjects using the time that someone has with an instructor face to face to work through things that maybe weren’t as clear the first time that someone got exposed to them.

So, you know, ultimately, there are probably things that we can deliver effectively exclusively with distance learning technology, but it’s not necessarily going to replace any in-person training altogether, but it can make it more affordable and make the in-person training more effective.

So for now, while we’re under these more difficult circumstances when it comes to delivering training—you know, when we have to respect social distancing and that kind of thing—it’s a good time to make this investment because people are going to make immediate use of it; people are going to be very receptive to it.

You’re probably going to be able to break down some of the barriers that you might normally have with people being a little bit slow to adopt new systems and new technology. And then, ultimately, if we can get back to in-person training, that’s great—that’s going to help you create a more valuable program overall.

But to get the most value for your training dollar, it’s great to be able to take advantage of the strengths of each training approach.

Adam Wagner: Awesome. All right, we’ve got another question here from Sarah H. She asks:

Currently, Our Training Consists of a Few Hour-Long Videos and Some Old PDFs that Could Use Some Updating. Is There a Better Way to Present the Material that Is a Little Easier to Digest?

Colin Forward:
Yeah, definitely. So, when I’ve run workshops on mobile design, especially mobile training design, one trick that I use is handing out index cards—little three-by-five index cards because you’re definitely working with restricted real estate when it comes to mobile, and also people just use mobile devices in a much different fashion than they do desktop and laptop computers and traditional eLearning devices. So, you’re not going to want to sit down and read a really long PDF—or a PDF in general because it’s just not a great mobile format. Things are usually a little too small—same with slides.

That’s not to say that you can’t take advantage of the investments that you’ve already made in training materials. So, even if your videos are an hour long or a few hours long, it’s easy enough to break up those videos into the really targeted pieces of information that address a specific skill or a specific piece of information that someone might need to know in the moment.

So, that’s the start. The other thing that you can do is use content management systems, learning management systems that are optimized for mobile. So one of the principles around mobile design is that it’s much easier to design for mobile and then scale up to web. That might be intuitive because it’s just more space on web, you can add what you need, but in general, it’s much more difficult to go the other way around. So, if you use a system that gives you rails, and that’s why with Capillary, Allogy’s learning system, tries to remove as many of the aesthetic design decisions for instructional designers as possible because we want to make sure that your content is going to look good on any size device.

So even with a PDF, that might just mean copy/pasting text into the word editor. But, in general, the concept is that you want to break things down into small enough pieces that one, it fits on the screen—you know, it fits on one mobile view at a time—and then also, that it’s only going to take three to five minutes, maybe 10 or 15, because really most people just don’t like looking at a device that size for that long. And if you break them down into those really small pieces, then you can take advantage of what we like to call stolen moments.

So, sitting in line at the DMV or waiting for anything really, and just when you pull out your phone, like you’re bored and you’re trying to be distracted. Instead, you can use that small piece of time to be productive and review an important concept that you might need to use later in your day.

So, bottom line is your investment in existing training resources has not gone to waste, but there are a few things that you can do to make sure that that investment is still valuable when ported over to mobile.

Adam Wagner: Perfect. Awesome, let’s see here. We have Mira. R who wants to know:

What Is the Difference Between eLearning and Mobile Learning? Is Mobile Learning Just eLearning Accessed from a Mobile Device?

Colin Forward:
Yeah, sometimes it is. And that’s usually not the best-case scenario. When you’re just accessing eLearning from a mobile device, a lot of times it ends up looking like what we’ve talked about earlier, where you’re using a PDF or a slide deck or something that’s not really well-suited for mobile.

But, you know, I like to put this question on a timeline. And I think of it as mobile is probably the most recent mass-communication revolution. So, if you stick with me for a second, there have been six or seven of these. We can go all the way back to the phonogram and the telegram. You go from recording something to broadcasting it, and really, radio is the high-fidelity version of broadcasting that phonogram. And then you get to cinema and then TV—recording video and playing it and then broadcasting it.

And then we get the internet. And the internet really introduced that participatory element of mass communication. And then, lastly, we have mobile. And people might just think of mobile as an extension of the internet, but really, what it does is it allows the internet to follow you out into the world where you’re acting on the training that you’ve received at your desk or in a classroom or wherever it may be. So the big difference between mobile learning and eLearning is that for eLearning, usually, you’re sitting down to learn something, and you might sit down for a few hours and then get up, go do your job, and try and apply what you learned. Big difference with mobile learning is that it follows you into the field to help you do your job.

And I think the best example of this—and for most people, it’s a very future use case—is augmented reality. So tools out there that can overlay a digital asset, maybe a 3-D model or something like that on your real world. So you hold up your phone and the camera to something that you’re looking at—say it’s a car engine and you’re trying to figure out how to fix something in your car, and you can put a model of that engine over your car and highlight the pieces that are important that you should be paying attention to.

This has actually become a very common tool for surgeons, creating a model of the patient. And that might be a model based on real medical imaging that then is overlaid in the process of surgery so that the surgeon can see something that may not be visible to the naked eye but has been captured in that medical imaging technology.

So, in that sense, mobile is really veering more towards performance support, and it can be used to introduce new topics, it can be used to deliver didactics, but the important thing is that you can deliver this just-in-time training that helps someone do their job in the real world.

Adam Wagner: I love that you ended that with the term “just-in-time training” because that’s the topic of our next question, actually. So good segue. Jeremy W. asks:

Can You Explain What Just-in-Time Training Is and Why It’s So Important?

Colin Forward:
Yeah, definitely. So, we’ve actually done some good research on this. We worked with a team from the University of Miami medical school; we had some of their medical residents. And then they work with the military training forward surgical teams. So there’s a lot of overlap there with civilian trauma medicine and combat medicine.

And the experiment that we ran was: if a patient comes into their unit and happens to have an issue that this resident or this medic received a lecture on at the beginning of the week. How do they perform, and how does that performance compare to having a three-to-five minute video on how to perform that procedure that they can review right before the patient gets there?

So, for example, a chest-tube insertion—that’s something where you can pretty quickly review the few steps that go into performing that procedure. And what we found was that the folks that had access to these just-in-time learning resources performed as well or better than someone who just happened to get that same hour-long lecture at the beginning of the week.

So, there’s definitely an impact just based on recency. Has it been a few days or a few minutes since you’ve reviewed this concept? And then, there’s also that you’re going into this procedure, you’re about to perform the task, and it’s like having a very high-fidelity user manual on hand.

So that’s really the concept behind just-in-time training. These days, you don’t necessarily carry around tomes of manuals on how to do things. A lot of the time, you can just Google something. Well, just-in-time training is sort of like just being able to Google something, but it’s being able to do it with a trusted source with skills or practical training that applies to the job that you’re about to do.

And so, it’s not just that someone might actually perform better, but a lot of times providing just-in-time training is more cost-effective. It’s more scalable, and that someone’s going to be able to make repeated use of your investment in that training resource.

You’re not going to have to rely on delivering a lecture or an in-service training at the right time. And then, also, it ends up being much more relevant to whatever that person is doing because it’s something that they can call up on-demand.

Adam Wagner: Awesome. Alright, so we’ve got one more question for now, unless anybody has any to add to the chat. Tiana H. asks, “I manage an older team who are not that receptive or comfortable with all of this technology. How do I get them onboard with remote training, or should I just give up?

How Do I Onboard Less-Technical Employees for Remote Training?

Colin Forward:
Yeah, well, at a time like this, giving up doesn’t really feel like an option, right? Because a lot of people are just forced to do things remote. And this is something that you face with all different aspects of your business operations—not just training. You know, if you’re a salesperson this year, and you’re a phenomenal outside salesperson, well, surprise. You can’t really knock on doors and go to conferences. You’re now an inside salesperson. And so you’re relying on technology to do your job. So that’s a great reason to invest in that kind of thing right now where people are probably a little bit more receptive to adopting new technology.

But in normal times, ideally, you’re able to meet people where they’re at and you’re able to adopt a blended learning strategy where you have different tools and people can access mobile learning, eLearning, video conferences or in-service training, and use what is most effective to them.

People definitely have different learning strategies. But on the other hand, if you can get over the resistance that you might get initially, you’re going to see dividends in a few different ways. One, people are going to probably perform better if they’re able to wrap their heads around being able to leverage just-in-time learning resources and mobile learning resources.

And you’re also probably going to save costs if you don’t have to go back to in-service training, flying someone out, setting up classroom time, getting the learners’ schedules coordinated, and that kind of thing if you can get them over the hump. The best way to do that is definitely going to be gradually. But again, take advantage of the fact that, right now, people I think are a little bit more receptive to adopting technology that facilitates social distancing and still helps them do their job and stay engaged.

The other thing that is helpful is introducing some sort of social element. So, if you’re trying to get someone to adopt distance learning technology, whether it’s eLearning, mobile learning, whatever it is, then get them to do it with a group. And that might mean having a chat component that is onboard to that training technology or something that is auxiliary. It could be in Slack. It could be whatever it is.

And then, in addition to having a social element and having them go through it with peers, also be ready to provide support. So sometimes, you know, people try something and they get stuck and they get frustrated, and then that really kind of turns them off to it. So if you know that you have people on your team that are going to be a little bit more hesitant to adopt or embrace this new technology, then just try and be there when they get stood up on it.

That might mean walking them through onboarding with a video chat open or just checking in when you know that they’re going to be onboarding to make sure that you can help reduce roadblocks. But this concept of support is really important, and it’s not just for the learners. This idea of new modes of training delivery is something that instructors have to adapt to as well.

So, make sure that you’re providing support for your learners, for your trainers, and also for your instructional designers because, like some of the stuff we’ve talked about earlier today, not everything about mobile design is necessarily intuitive to someone who is used to more traditional forms of training delivery.

So, if you can help get over some of those initial barriers, then you’re definitely going to get better adoption, better engagement in the long run. And that’s ultimately going to lead to higher value and higher returns on your training dollar when you’re seeing better performance and more cost-effective training delivery.

Adam Wagner: Awesome. Thanks, Colin. And thanks, everyone, for joining. That is all we have as far as questions for today. This was Training the Modern Workforce Live, presented by Allogy. Remember to join us every week for more discussions on all things training and continued learning. If you’d like to explore previous episodes, subscribe to our YouTube channel or like us on LinkedIn and Facebook. And if you’d like to connect with one of our learning specialists to see how Allogy could help improve your training, head to allogy.com and schedule a demo.

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