With so many sets of regulations at work governing Health & Safety, wellness and environmental conditions, equality and diversity, data handling, and other conditions, it can be an uphill struggle for businesses to keep their operations and personnel in compliance with all the demands of industry and the law.
Education plays a big part in this, by creating an awareness of what’s required, and providing a means of communicating the best methods by which compliance may be achieved. But given the dry and generally uninspiring nature of much of the knowledge involved, developing eLearning modules that workers will actually pay attention to can be a challenge. This article should help.
A Brutally Boring Necessity?
Compliance training isn’t something that you can avoid, as failing to meet regulatory demands can have dangerous and/or expensive consequences. Workplace accidents, contamination, physical injury, lawsuits, fines, and professional sanctions are just some of the possibilities of poor awareness and lax compliance regimes.
The trick is to turn the rigorous process of imparting compulsory knowledge into an exercise that learners will be receptive to.
The Necessary Groundwork
Your first move should be to determine the nature of your target audience. An initial assessment of your workforce should reveal enough of the educational background, personal history, and preferred methods of learning of your trainees to inform the design of your training modules. Such a survey will also establish which of your personnel have prior experience of the material to be covered, and may benefit from advanced training rather than rehashing old ideas and techniques.
Telling A Tale
Rather than supplying lists of facts or legal requirements, try to convey this knowledge as part of a narrative – preferably one that’s constructed around environments and scenarios that will be familiar to your learners from their working or personal lives.
For compliance training, you’ll need to impart a certain amount of factual knowledge, but this can be worked into the dialogue and events of the training scenarios you create, and perhaps emphasised or summarised in sidebars or sets of bullet points.
Getting Them Engaged
To stress it again: there’s no rule that says compliance training has to be boring. So look to construct storylines that are relevant to your learners, and might elicit an emotional response, generate talking points, highlight the horrors of compliance failures (you might use real-world examples, or situations based on conditions at your workplace), and perhaps raise a laugh or two.
Reams of text and static images will soon cause even the most committed trainee’s eyes to glaze over. And even videos can be a passive experience – unless they include elements of interactivity on the part of your learners.
Breaking up scenes to ask the viewer for input is a great way to promote learner interaction. This might take the form of an onscreen question panel or comment box, for learners to predict the likely outcome of the action they’ve just observed, or to offer their views on a character’s behaviour.
Alternative storylines and branching scenarios are a natural follow-on from this interactive approach. This requires the pre-design of several scenes that might result from the decisions made or actions performed at certain points in the main narrative. It’s an effective way of allowing learners to explore the possible consequences of different courses of action, in a controlled environment where exercises can be repeated if necessary.
There’s a place too for game-play and rewards systems, in encouraging learners to persist with their training and to gauge and monitor their own performance – perhaps in comparison to the work of others. Converting your training scenarios into a game or quest with rewards for achievements as learners progress through the programme increases learner engagement, and the retention of the knowledge they’ve learned.
There’s also scope for team-based activities, and a level of control for course designers to limit access to higher levels of a game (the next stage of the compliance training) unless a certain number of points (equating to knowledge gained) have been earned.
Allow For Flexibility And Mobility
Training should be segmented into modules of manageable length – 10 to 20 minute sessions are the ideal. This is the kind of time-frame that busy workers would be prepared to accommodate, and also promotes knowledge retention.
Courses should be formatted for distribution and consumption on a range of operating platforms and devices, as training needs to available to desktop and remote or mobile workers.
Consider The Social Angle
As well as working team exercises or group challenges into the training mix, providing a messaging system or some form of virtual conferencing will allow learners to communicate with course facilitators to raise issues or give feedback, and to trade ideas and opinions with their peers.
You can also look to social media to extend the reach of your training programme. Posts on various platforms may provide prime examples of how compliance should or should not be approached, while the discussions may be ploughed for threads relevant to the topics being covered in the training.
Compliance training isn’t a one-off exercise. As conditions in your industry, global markets, and technology change, amendments to existing compliance regimes may be made – and this will require you to periodically update and improve the content of your eLearning programmes.
Regulatory conditions may also apply to people in your ecosystem who aren’t formally part of your organisation, such as partners, suppliers, contractors, and trusted
third parties. Their activities may have consequences for your own compliance status, and it’s worth considering the option of making your training materials available to them – a reselling strategy that might even extend beyond those in your immediate sphere of influence.