Everyone seems to like different toppings on their pizzas. Some folks go conservative and get just cheese, while other folks go wild with anchovies or pineapple slices. For customers that can’t make up their minds, pizzerias offer preconfigured specials with multiple toppings.
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There is a similar desire for choices and options when it comes to training. Industrial customers demand a full menu of choices, not only in terms of content, but also in terms of delivery. Customers wouldn’t frequent a pizzeria selling just cheese pizza, and they aren’t interested in one-size-fits-none training.
The form of training that requires the least time and financial commitment from students is e-learning. eLearning Training Modules (eLM) and eLearning Training Videos (eLV) are stand-alone automated lessons that can be downloaded from the Internet.
These lessons are short and time effective, available on specific topics and can be performed anytime or anywhere there is a computer. Most eLMs and eLVs take from five to 25 minutes to complete. Each lesson covers a specific and limited area, making it easy for each student to learn at his or her own pace.
Many companies and industrial suppliers offer eLMs and eLVs to customers for little or no cost, and in most cases, the modules can be downloaded without supplying registration information. Students who opt for eLMs and eLVs receive training with a minimal commitment of time and money, but with substantial benefits in terms of lessons learned.
The next level of instruction in terms of time and financial commitment is a facilitated Web-based training class where a live instructor teaches through an Internet connection. There may or may not be a tuition charge for this type of training.
The student is typically required to provide his or her contact info to receive login information through an e-mail message. Students attending this type of training are a little more willing to adjust their schedule to attend a class, but still want targeted information without investing too much time or money.
One advantage of Web-based training classes over eLMs and eLVs is the opportunity for the student to interact with the instructor. Interactions are typically provided via a simultaneous conference call and/or Web-based chat.
Higher up the scale are facilitated on-site training classes that bring training to the customer’s doorstep with either a standard or a customized curriculum. Classes at this level require a substantial commitment of time and money from students.
To justify this type of financial commitment, a company typically must have a relatively large number of participants. Classes last from one to five days and costs can reach into the thousands of dollars. Although students must spend considerable time and companies need to invest substantial dollars, travel expenses are limited to the instructor.
Two big advantages of on-site training over Web-based training are the opportunity for hands-on demos and instruction with vendor-supplied hardware, and the ability to interact with the instructor and with other students on a face-to-face basis.
The highest level of instruction is facilitated factory training. Students must be willing to invest a substantial amount of time for both travel and training. As with on-site instruction, sustained time away from the job is an additional expense.
In many cases, students move up through training levels based on satisfaction with learning experiences. A student and his or her company may be willing to invest substantial time and money in factory training after viewing an effective eLV module or attending a good Web-based training class.
The key to providing every student with an affective learning experience is to offer a full menu of choices. Each student will advance to the commitment level that they and their company feel meets their learning needs, their budget and their day planner. The most important things is that no matter which delivery format the customer chooses, his or her training needs are met.