How to perform a training needs analysis
We'll show you how to perform a training needs analysis, and give insights into the benefits of the assessment before you start developing your new eLearning!
Effective online training content has to meet learners’ needs while aligning learning with business goals. For many types of content, where the goal is to get employees to do something in a particular way, to do something better — or even to stop doing something — scenario-based learning, often referred to as training simulations, is an effective training tool. That’s because:
Full-fledged branching scenarios and immersive simulations are an outstanding learning tool, but they can also be time-consuming and costly to develop. A growing trend toward short training simulations or what eLearning pioneer Clark Aldrich calls “Short Sims” overcomes this potential obstacle while preserving many of the benefits of simulations and scenario-based learning.
Short simulations that take the learner less than 10 minutes to explore are especially effective, as they easily fit into a learner’s workday and offer some of the benefits of microlearning, such as relevance, not requiring a huge time commitment or advance scheduling, and, potentially, on-demand availability and a mobile-first design. Learners are likely to engage with short, relevant content multiple times, which reinforces their learning.
“Two paths have to converge,” Aldrich told Learning Solutions in an interview just before the release of his book Short Sims: A Game Changer in the summer of 2020.
Those paths, according to Aldrich, are the learner’s needs and the squeeze of “realistic” development cycles. Aldrich told Learning Solutions that creating a Short Sim takes him a matter of several days, whereas creating a typical game, simulation, or eLearning course generally requires several weeks or months of design and development time.
An additional advantage to short training simulations is that they are relatively easy to create. Short simulations can — and should — be created using simple tools, such as a familiar eLearning authoring tool, according to Aldrich. This is a departure from more conventional simulations and scenarios, which might be created using a game engine or a virtual reality tool — tools which require specialized skill sets.
The goal is to create effective, though somewhat minimalist, scenario-based learning. Examples of Aldrich’s Short Sims are available on his website. In addition to being easier and less expensive to create than a complex immersive simulation or game, a short simulation will be easier to revise or update. This is because of both the simpler creation process and the shorter, more narrowly focused content.
When planning a short simulation, the instructional designer should choose a familiar authoring tool, not get carried away with trying to figure out how to create fancy graphics or animations. This shift away from immersive or highly graphical environments, which many learning designers may associate with scenario-based learning, does not mean reducing effectiveness or losing learner engagement, though. And content design best practices still apply:
Fitting short simulations into existing curricula and training plans is easy!
Short simulations are a useful solution to many typical training challenges. Adding this flexible and engaging approach to your toolbox can improve training outcomes. And by providing learners with realistic practice, short simulations can drive better performance and boost important business goals as well.
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