Learning is most effective when it is able to be put into the context of the workplace. At times, by performing training in the sterile atmosphere of the training room, all we succeed in passing on is the knowledge, without the ability to perform the task. A learner who learns all about a task, but can’t do it, can’t use the knowledge effectively and may as well not have learned it.
That’s where workplace learning comes in. For many tasks, the best possible training happens in the workplace, doing the actual tasks that the job requires. Amongst other things, this ensures that the learner becomes familiarized with workplace procedures, locations of needed materials, and the other work going on that can affect their ability to perform their tasks.
This creates additional challenges for the trainer. Not only do they have to fit the training into the workplace atmosphere, but they also have additional problems with WHS and ensuring that the training doesn’t impede workplace operations. There is also a lot more which is outside of the trainer’s control in the environment, as compared to a simulation in the training room. These factors affect the lesson preparation, delivery an evaluation of the learner’s skills.
Terry was a young trainer working for a RTO. The training she provided was held in the RTO’s facility, providing her with an abundance of resources and the ability to create the atmosphere she wanted to, so that she could encourage her learners and promote learning.
Everything was going along fine for Terry, until one of their major customers asked for some computer training for a new software package they were installing. It seemed that this package was quite expensive, and they couldn’t use it at the training facility. They were going to have to do the training in the workplace. Not only that, but the client company expected the training to be done during working hours.
Terry was worried about this one. How was she going to train a dozen different people at the same time, when they were scattered through a number of different offices? Even worse, she was supposed to have the people learn by doing their actual work. They would be processing real customer orders, materials movements and shipments. If they didn’t get things right, there would be major consequences.
Since Terry had never done training in the workplace before, she was concerned about how to accomplish it. When she explained her concerns to her direct supervisor, they handed her an old, dog-eared copy of a TAEDEL402A course, which was about Plan, Organize and Facilitate Learning in the Workplace. “Here,” her supervisor said, “use this as a reference. You can find everything you need to know about workplace training in this book.”
While Terry was daunted by the reading that she knew she was going to have to do, and do quickly, she was glad that there was some information for her to go by. So, she dug in and started reading. She found that workplace learning has to be based upon workplace practices and routines. From that, she decided that she’d have to spend some time in the workplace, to find out how the new software was going to fit into their jobs.
While it took some time, Terry found that the time spent in the office, watching the people work, was time well invested. Her training ended up better, even better than what she would have been able to do back in the training room. Workplace training ended up being a help to her, not a hindrance.