This week has awarded us with an opportunity to get in touch with Scott Frasard, Manager of Global Training Measurement & Evaluation at eBay. We had the chance to discuss topics revolving around the e-learning and training industry leading up to the holidays. Check out this in-depth interview with Scott Frasard, training expert, to get the top tips about training and e-learning.
Please give us a brief description of your current position as a training expert.
I have been an adult educator for 20 years, primarily teaching EMTs and paramedics. During that time, I taught other trainers, lead training teams, established training departments, and managed learning organizations.
I earned a masters and PhD in adult education from The University of Georgia, conduct education research, and present at local, national, and international conferences.
In my current role, I lead a global department within the learning organization whose sole purpose is to evaluate training effectiveness from learner satisfaction to return on investment.
What do you think are the pain points of employers when it comes to training?
I think there are two primary and related pain points. First, I think the stakeholders we support attribute most challenges they face as a training issue. The fact is training is, by design, capable of addressing a lack of skill or knowledge, yet the challenges stakeholders face do not always fall into this category. Their demand to solve a non-training issue with training sets up a false expectation that the challenge will go away following training, but are left puzzled when the challenge persists.
Second, I think the stakeholders we support are becoming more demanding (in a positive manner) for training accountability. They are putting their employees through an increasing amount of training due to the changing environment and have an increasing need to see what training actually contributed. This requires learning organizations to not only measure and evaluate training effects, but do so accurately, with greater sophistication, and with more confidence that the results are reflective of reality.
Unfortunately, trainers are developed to train and only rarely to do true measurement and evaluation work. Learning organizations must invest resources in hiring and supporting measurement and evaluation specialists in order to demonstrate training’s contributions to the organization. I believe the days of reporting participant reactions to training are gone (or near gone).
Measurement & evaluation specialists are needed to not only show what training was transfer to the workplace, how training impacted key business indicators/metrics, and how much financial return was realized, but also to differentiate training’s effect on these from all other sources of influence (i.e., the work environment/culture, policies, practices, and the organization itself).
You seem to have a variety of experience in training. Do you find there is a difference in training needs among different industries?
Yes and no. First, given that most organizations are service industries, there is always a need for customer service-related training. Even manufacturing industries interact with customers, so even these industries need the same.
My experience tells me that organizations are increasingly turning to the social sciences (i.e., psychology, sociology, etc.) to gain a greater understanding of people and what motivates them to seek out certain things or behave in certain ways. I think there has been a great acceptance of the value customer service training brings to organizations.
I do see, however, a difference in industry-specific training needs, especially as it relates to technology advancements. I came from a medical field where advances in patient care brought along with it new tools to assess and treat the sick and injured. Now that I am in a technology field,
I see how advances in things such as mobile platforms and processing speeds have changed how people interact with each other and obtain goods and services. Both of these industries have specific training needs, which don’t always overlap.
Where do you see employee training heading in the next 5 years?
I see a number of changes in store for trainers and learning organizations in the next few years. First, eLearning and mLearning are not only more readily available, but are often available for free. Trainers will need to know what training is available, how good the training is, and how they can capitalize on free online training options rather than trying to develop all training in-house.
Second, as the millennial generation continues to enter the workforce, their learning preferences and experiences differ from that of older generations making their training experience needs potentially much different. Trainers must consider multiple ways of delivering training in order to be effective for a multigenerational workforce.
Third, the tools available for designing and delivering training are advancing and becoming abundant (almost to the point of selection paralysis). Trainers will not only have to be knowledgeable about what is available and how to use it, but also have a greater knowledge of adult learning principles to better employ these options. Gone are the days of “see one, do one, teach one.”
Trainers need to know what some approaches work while others don’t work quite so well. Even concepts such as David Kolb’s learning styles or Malcolm Knowles’ assumptions of adult learners will give trainers a huge advantage.
Fourth, the workforce is becoming increasingly transient, requiring trainers to deal with larger numbers of classes and participants in short time frames. Trainers will need to manage this in an effective way, which may mean looking to other sources of learning or different approaches to teaching new employees about the job they will be doing.
Master-apprentice learning models may become more effective and decreasing the time from hire to production. Finally, as the workforce becomes more diverse and globalized, trainers will need to develop cultural competence in order to ensure their trainings are maximally effective.
What do you think is the biggest downfall we are seeing today in training?
Probably the biggest downfall is that learning organizations (at least the ones for which I have first-hand knowledge) continue to try and fulfill every training request that hits the inbox. While I have seen some learning organizations do more upfront learning needs analysis, I continue to see submission and fulfillment of requests due to political pressures.
Complicating the matter is a lack of adequate needs analysis training for those conducting the needs analysis. Far too often, I observe the needs analysis being one of “what do you want us to teach” and not one of “let’s explore this request from all angles to determine if training is really the right solution.” Additionally, even when training is the right solution, there is usually some other solution needed in tandem to training (i.e., change management).
Thus, not only do learning organizations need to embrace adult learning principles, they would also benefit greatly by knowing more about organization development or change management principles as well (or at the very least, developing strong partnerships with these functions within their organizations).
What is your stance on gamification and social learning for employee training purposes?
Given the workforce makeup and how people relate to one another these days, gamification will continue to play a major role in how trainers teach. Children (and adults, for that matter) are socialized differently than even 20 years ago, yet we continue to teach as we did back then.
The adult education field has long known that learning has social ties and as the ways we socialize change, so must our teaching practices. As an example, restricting or forbidding cell phones in the classroom, trainers should find and embrace ways of incorporating them in to learning activities.
People do this in their normal lives every day and the classroom should be no different.