CXO

Motivating your students for WBT success

Web-based training has a lot of advantages over other forms of training, but all is lost if students don't finish the courses. Here are some tips for encouraging students to stay the course.


It seems that Web-based training (WBT) is here to stay. According to International Data Corp., WBT will grow 140 percent annually over the next five years. IDC further predicts that 42 percent of all training will be delivered over the Internet or intranets by 2002.

However, some people just don't take well to change, no matter how pervasive. Reluctant students don't make for good WBT program results. You can always drag a horse to water, but you can't force it to drink.

So, the question becomes, how can we make the horse want to drink? Without a positive attitude towards WBT, your students' learning will suffer, and so will your program's value. The key is helping your reluctant staff see the payoff in WBT.

Let's look at two effective motivation strategies—making training enjoyable and investing your students in their training.
In this group of articles, Karen Cangero has looked at why WBT benefits a variety of learning styles,what the economics of WBT are, how WBT fits into the larger learning puzzle, and how to evaluate WBT programs.
"It's good for you"
Almost any training has value for your workers. In IT, it's critical to keep up with the state of the art. For technology professionals interested in enhancing their skills and expertise, there have never been more options. Still, many workers today say they don't have enough time to expand their skills. WBT addresses this problem by helping them reap the benefits of training at their own pace, from the comfort of their desks or homes.

If you want your staff to see the value in WBT, you need to consistently extol its benefits. Make it clear that, by improving skills, employees increase their value to the company. Some external motivations for training could be bonuses, prizes, time off, achievement certificates, or other tangible rewards granted upon successful WBT completion.

Internal motivation is an even stronger tool. Help your users determine their own training needs and goals, then be sure the WBT program you implement meets those needs. Knowing a program addresses their personal goals enhances students' sense of ownership in it. It becomes more important for them to achieve success.

Think about exercise. We all know how good it is for us. For some people, that is reward enough. Others need some additional motivation to hit the treadmill. Maybe it's an upcoming family reunion or the gorgeous neighbor who just moved in next door. Maybe it's a serious health scare. Whatever it is, it encourages people to exercise and get in shape. As with exercise, figure out what personal factors will drive your staff to make the most of their WBT opportunities.

"You'll like it"
Learning must be interesting and interactive to teach students effectively. WBT, by nature, should be interactive, so half the job is done by design.

Being interesting, however, is another story. Start early by putting together an ad campaign of sorts for your WBT program before its launch. Use this campaign to generate interest and excitement about the program. Your marketing efforts must be broad-based and effective; they can be conservative or flamboyant, expensive or modest in budget. Use every medium available: develop a name and/or logo for the program, use posters, brochures, video, newsletters, etc.

Even the most tedious material can be jazzed up. Try to ensure that your program is well-designed and easy to use, and employs innovative technology. Fun elements, such as games, competition, and rewards can add excitement. Encourage friendly competition, maybe use a program that has a game built in to it. Make sure the program is easy to use, too. Nothing can spoil your fun faster than frustration.

Let's return to the idea of exercise. Some people love to jog. Others hate jogging, but will run for their gym equipment if given the chance to demolish a coworker on the racquetball court. It's the same with training. You need to push the right buttons to provide training that creates interest as well as education.

In today's changing IT environment, additional technical training is not a luxury or an indulgence. It's survival. WBT offers one way to cope with those changes, but you will need to motivate some of your staff if you want them to experience WBT success. It won't come naturally to everyone. Unfortunately, no grand theory of motivation exists, but careful planning, testing, and getting to know what makes your staff tick will help you take advantage of this valuable tool.
Do you use a database to keep track of who has done what? Do you use bribes to get your students to finish the courses? Tell us what has worked for you.

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