Is Your Training Crap? How to Choose Mission-Driven eLearning

Are you looking for just a checkmark on an attendance sheet, a ‘completed’ status on an eLearning platform, or do you want to see behavioural change in your staff that leads to higher care levels?

At FCS, we’re first and foremost a healthcare training and consulting company with the goal of leading to higher care. Between onsite and online training, we’re involved in over 200 healthcare organizations annually across Canada. This access to so many organizations allows us to spot some industry trends sooner than most.

One of the biggest trends we’ve seen is over the last few years is that everyone and their mother are starting to offer online compliance/mandatory in-service training; whether it’s suppliers, head offices, private companies, organizations, etc. A great idea, so it would seem. Right?

Often times a great idea, poorly implemented, turns into a bad idea. And we may not even realize it.

Most inservice programs we come across are poor at best- frustrating or disappointing user experiences, links to 3rd party websites, overcrowded course lists, boring content, links to “subsection 23.2a” of legislation, and so on.

Everyone seems to have forgotten one important thing: The Staff who have to take these poorly executed training programs. How unfortunate for them!

At FCS we pride ourselves on having dynamic trainers and presenters for all kinds of healthcare staff. Our dynamic presenters help engage the audience, bring the content to life, and provide practical application steps so staff can be successful when they return to the floor. For whatever reason; however, these qualities can easily be overlooked when it comes to online training.

So we asked ourselves…

  • What would online training look like if we started to demand these qualities?
  • What would online training look like if it were developed from a front-line-staff-first perspective?
  • What would online training look like if we tied our care levels to the quality of education we offer?

We understand all management teams are busy and ultimately want to provide the highest possible care levels to their homes. We want to share with you three negative trends that you can keep an eye out for when you are evaluating an online training program.

We strongly believe our industry is at a crossroads with online training. Together, we need to be aware of these trends so we do not casually fall victim to their implications. The trends we create now will be the standards we implement in the future. Lets create positive trends for online training to help ensure higher care levels now and into the future.


1. Attitudes Towards Online Training

Here are the majority of reasons we hear organizations move to online training.

“I don’t care what it looks like, it’s cheaper though right?”

“Is it free? … Ok, we’re in.”

“Uugh, I need to get my staff through these in-services quickly, will this do it?”

We don’t want to beat you up. We get it. In a lot of provinces you have to do more training, quicker, faster, cheaper than ever before, so some form of online training makes sense.

BUT, if you’re in one of these provinces, it’s helpful to come back to the heartbeat of this legislation. Ultimately this legislation is the government’s way of trying to ensure higher care standards. It is also important to note that ninety-nine percent of the mission statements we come across in healthcare organizations are some form of ‘ensuring higher care standards’. If we challenge ourselves to live and breathe our mission statement, we should naturally hit a lot of our training requirements, or begin to offer even more training opportunities for staff.

Training is one of the primary ways the culture or “DNA” of your organization is spread. Your training program is an amazing opportunity to be a reflection of the mission, vision and values of your organization. If you choose a program without doing your due-diligence on the training experience it offers, you run the risk of spreading a negative, “lets just get this training done” culture to your staff, instead of pointing to what matters most.

When we come across organizations that truly live and breathe their mission statement, the statements we hear them saying about online training are drastically different. We hear, “Quality online training can change staff behaviours and ultimately help us in achieving higher care levels.” OR “We need a quality training experience so staff can engage and ultimately learn new tools to provide better care.”

If we understand the relationship between the quality of training and care outcomes, it will automatically point you to the higher quality programs on the market and you’ll still be compliant with legislation.


2. Poor User Experiences

Culture shock is when an individual does not understand or recognize themselves in their environment. This inability to understand what is happening, or what will happen, in a given environment will often lead to negativity. This can easily happen with front-line staff and online training.

At FCS we understand that the attitudes going into/during training can often dictate the amount of content retained. If they have a positive attitude they are more likely to retain the content. If they have a negative attitude, less. This is why user experience is so important.

Staff are used to a person presenting the training, while they are sitting beside peers, and interacting with one another in a learning exercise. This is a very relational training experience. As you implement an eLearning program, staff will find themselves on a computer, in a corner or at home, by themselves. This is a very individualistic training experience. Both experiences can be great; however if this shift from a relational training experience to an individualistic training experience isn’t communicated to staff correctly, they can easily become negative towards this new training environment.

Most programs add to this negative training experience further by not understanding the needs of the end-user. These programs may have staff sift through hundreds of courses, navigate through inconsistent content formats (ie: video pop-ups; content opening in new tabs/windows; opening/saving document downloads; links to full legislation; etc), and/or have difficult login/registration processes. All of these variables can cause staff to disengage. Once disengaged, it is less likely for staff to retain content– all because of a negative user experience. They may get a ‘completed’ status, but how much did they learn?

User experience is all about establishing the familiar and ensuring consistency throughout a session. You can also think critically about the colours, font size, text, language, and general feel of the online training. Does it look like it was built for your staff? Or does it look like someone found a pre-existing product built for another industry altogether?

If the frontline staff member feels like the program was made for them, that someone consulted them, it is reasonable to assume that they will engage on a deeper level with the content, bring that knowledge onto the floor, and ultimately help increase care levels.


 3. Irrelevant Content and Design

Infection control is infection control is infection control, right? Well, technically “yes” and practically “no”. In two infection control courses where the words and text are the same, you would think the outcomes would be the same. However, studies show that depending on how the words and text are presented can affect learner retention by up to 90%… YES NINETY PERCENT![1]

Online training has such a unique opportunity to bring all sorts of multimedia together. Video, text, images, graphics, animations, and so on, can be brought together into one course package. In a lot of online compliance training programs, only one or two formats are used. As a result, your residents miss out on having better trained, more knowledgeable staff care for them.

We have discovered that having relevant online training content is made up of two main characteristics: 1) Well Curated Content, and 2) Well Designed Content.

Well curated content is taking an end-user perspective on legislation/best practices/experiences/research/humour and massaging the content together through storyboarding and an instructional design process to create a seamless high-impact course the end user will enjoy.

Well designed content starts with understanding we are all affected by the society we live in. We are bombarded with magazines, ads, newspapers where graphic design is prevalent and normative. Now when we see something that isn’t graphically designed, we can subconsciously assume the content is not as important as something that is graphically designed.

For whatever reason, most training programs look like they were designed in the 1950s. It’s usually a Subject Matter Expert trying to ‘spiff up’ their content and it never gets into the hands of a true graphic designer. This can lead staff to have an immediate perception that this content must not be that important. This is especially true for the new generation of care providers who have grown up in our media-rich society.

Understanding the way the content is presented is just as, if not more important, than the content itself. This realization should drastically affect your decisions in an online training provider.

We know you’re busy, so hopefully being aware of these trends will help you quickly identify online training programs that are right for your organization, helping you live and breath your mission statement.

If you’re looking to develop, implement, or select an online training program and have questions, feel free to contact us. We’ve developed some eLearning products ourselves, so feel free to trial the ones that interest you most.



This article was posted in Blog, eLearning.    

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