Resource Material for Courses
MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR EMPLOYEES' LEARNING
Share these tips! Whether your employee are learning through the on-line programming developed by us at Digital Distance, or through some other means, these tips can be valuable to you and your company. Please feel free to share them with others.
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As a manager supporting a learning process for someone who reports to you, you want to ensure the experience will be valuable for both the student and your organization. Treat this as an investment in your company that is as important as investments in facilities, merchandise, or Information Systems.
The following are suggestions you can use to help your staff and your workplace get the most out of the learning experience:
Before the student starts the course ...
Learn about the courses.
Managers are advised to read all course outlines, and to discuss courses with former students whenever possible.
Take some courses.
You can inspire enthusiasm for courses by talking about what you've learned. Aside from the benefits of acquiring new knowledge, courses also enable you to acquire a new vocabulary that employees may wish to use as a result of the course. You will also be better able to bridge course ideas and the day-to-day world experienced by students.
Meet with students and identify specific learning challenges.
Also, since students report that they get more out of courses when they have specific challenges in mind, you and the student should set specific challenges or goals that he or she will focus on during the upcoming course.
Give students an outline of the material that will be covered.
What is important is that the student going to the course has a good understanding of expectations and is fully prepared for the course.
Put students at ease about the learning opportunity.
You can put students at ease by discussing the kinds of assignments and learning experiences that they can expect in a course. As well, reassure students that the courses are useful, fun, enlightening and, perhaps most important, non-threatening.
While the student is attending the course...
Create a "critical mass".
Peers attending a course together can collaborate on learning activities and provide support during the course. More importantly, students will be more comfortable using their new knowledge in the workplace if a critical mass of others in their workplace share that knowledge.
Make the course a safety zone.
Keep interruptions to a minimum.
Emphasize that you're not interested in marks.
After the student finishes the course ...
Meet to debrief within a day or two of the student completing.the course
Use the language, strategies and concepts from the courses.
Be open and encourage employees to try new approaches.
Structure opportunities for students to use their learning.
Make learning part of the whole workplace culture.
In addition to the certification of grade report that the student will get from the provider of the course, you might consider having your organization do things to celebrate the student's work and reinforce the value of learning.
For example, you might do the following:
These tips utilize the product of two initiatives.
First, much of the content is the product of work completed by teams from Eaton's and Canada Post who attended an Eaton School of Retailing workshop, The Next Steps, held in London, Ontario, in 1996.
Second, results from Getting the Most Out of Learning: A Qualitative Evaluation of the Eaton School of Retailing (conducted in 1995-96 by The Ryerson Centre for Research on Lifelong Learning) were drawn upon to provide a research perspective on the suggestions made here.