At Vector Solutions, we offer online training, continuing education, and other performance-improvement solutions for the Architecture, Engineering & Construction (AEC) industries. Of course, our learning management system (LMS), elearning courses for online training in the AEC industry, and accredited live & recorded webinars for AEC continuing education (to keep those licenses and certifications up-to-date) are a huge help to organizations, but they're also not everything an AEC-industry organization needs to keep up with the learning and development needs of their employees.
And that's, in part, where this blog article comes into play. We want to provide some additional resources that will help AEC-industry employers create better training and learning & development opportunities for their workers & organization. We'll do our best to provide useful resources to help you understand how people learn, how to design training to match how people learn, and more. Along the way, we'll introduce you to some blog articles, recorded webinars, and downloads for the AEC industry that we hope you'll find helpful and that might keep you coming back to the Vector Solutions website's Resources tab for even more helpful training & performance-improvement information over time.
So please continue reading our list of resources below and we help doing so improves not only training at your organization, but also your organization's overall performance and business outcomes. We DO invite you to share your own thoughts in the comments section below as well.
Let's take a look at some topics that you can incorporate into your own training and performance-improvement efforts at work and some resources we've pulled together to help you put them to work more effectively in your AEC organization.
In human performance improvement, or HPI, a lot of emphasis is put on conducting an analysis (or a few analyses) at the beginning of the performance-improvement process, well before any training is designed and created, if it is created at all.
The goals are to (1) make sure the performance problem is identified and understood and (2) determine the cause or causes of the problem. Once that information is known, the performance-improvement specialist can choose from a range of "interventions" intended to ease or improve the performance problem.
The potential interventions include training, but there are other interventions that can be selected as well. So training isn't the only potential solution to a performance problem and there will be times when training is only part of the answer (when multiple interventions are called for) or even times when no training is required (for example, maybe a process change or a job aid would be more appropriate).
Always remember, training can help fix problems if there's a lack of knowledge or skills, but it can't fix other problems. As a result, you don't want to design, develop, and deliver training for a problem that's not being caused by a lack of knowledge of skills.
To learn more about HPI in general and the HPI front-end analysis, check out the following:
Our workplaces are systems in which many elements--individual people; our organization, departments, and teams; machines and equipment; computers and computer software; processes and procedures; suppliers and vendors; government regulations; and more--all interact to create a series of outcomes, including the products and services our organizations sell and profit from.
Yet, when we're trying to solve a workplace problem, we sometimes wrongly consider things in isolation without thinking of all those interactions and the interconnected nature of our workplaces. When we do this, we often focus on the wrong things, dooming our performance-improvement efforts from the start.
So it's best to take a step back from a problem and try to get a big-picture, more holistic view of what's going on. That's what systems thinking is about--understanding the larger system that a particular workplace performance is taking place in. When you take a systems-thinking approach to performance improvement at work, you'll not only get a better idea of what cause(s) of a performance problem but you'll also have a better idea of the potential consequences of any solution(s) you're considering--including potentially negative, unintended consequences as well.
To learn more about using systems thinking to improve the workplace performance at your organization, check out:
While training can help employees acquire knowledge necessary for the job and develop skills to perform job tasks, sometimes a job aid (also sometimes known as performance support, guidance, and/or workflow learning) can be a helpful part of the equation as well.
In short, a job aid is something the employee can access at the point and time of need while directly on the job. For example, if an employee works on a computer and needs to enter specific codes, a job aid that lists all the appropriate codes and when to use them can be created and then posted near the computer. Likewise, if an employee needs to know how to turn on or service a machine, a checklist can be placed by the machine. Or, since we have mobile devices, we can give workers mobile devices that allow them to access things like videos, manuals, infographics, or short microlearning elearning courses when and where they need it while they're doing the job.
So you might want to create job aids instead of conducting training--especially if it's designed to replace the need to memorize long series of facts, if it's a job a worker will perform infrequently, or if it's a complicated job task newly hired employees tend to struggle with for a while until they get the hang of it. Or maybe you'll create training and a job aid, and maybe that training will include instructions on how to use the job aid when performing the job task.
To learn more about using job aids/performance support in addition to or instead of training to help workers improve performance on the job, check out the following:
Before you design training, it's good to know how people process information, remember, develop skills, and then later apply the newly learned information and skills on the job to produce positive business outcomes. Why? Because you want to use that understanding of how people learn to design training that is aligned with how people learn.
Many trainers, especially those with no background in instructional design, make the classic mistake of creating training that isn't designed to align with how people learn. Training sessions go on too long; they include too much information; they provide limited or no opportunities for practice and feedback; training is delivered in a "one-and-done" format; it's conducted in a "spray and pray" and/or "sage on the stage" method; etc.
By knowing and keeping in mind only a few things, learning designers can avoid a lot of these common training mistakes and create training that's more aligned with how people learn and that will lead to better job performances and business outcomes. For example, it's helpful to know the information processing model of how people learn, remember, store, and later transfer information. Likewise, it's helpful to know the importance of guided demonstrations, practice, and feedback for skill development and of the technique of deliberate practice for the development of expertise. And it's good to know the benefits of spaced learning/spaced practice/spaced retrieval to combat the problems with one-and-done training.
To learn more about how we learn, check out:
This is instructional design 101, but you shouldn't just sit down to create (and later deliver) training without having some form of systematic plan to follow while doing so.
There are several different models that one can use for training design and development, and there's no single right or best model. In fact, some people use one model for some training circumstances and other models for different training circumstances.
But by far the most well-known and well-used model is the ADDIE model, which calls for analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation. If you've never used a training design model before, this is probably a good place to start. You can branch out to other models (SAM, Agile, etc.) in the future if you find reason to.
To learn more about the ADDIE training model, check out:
Learning objectives are covered within the design phase of ADDIE (discussed in the section above), but they're so central to what training is about we're calling them out here on their own as well.
Put simply, a learning objective is (1) what you want the learners to be able to do when the training is over and is therefore (2) the very reason you're doing the training. Once you have created your learning objectives, you'll create assessments (think here: some form of test) and training content/activities that are directly aligned to those learning objectives.
To learn more about learning objectives, check out:
This is another of those instructional design-101 issues except that not even all instructional designers are up-to-date and on top of this.
In learning and development, there are things that we KNOW help people learn and things that we know DON'T help. And we know that because tireless professionals have done research, studies, and metastudies and crunched the data for us. The stuff that we know helps people learn is what we are here referring to as evidence-based training practices (you'll sometimes also see the phrase evidence-informed training).
Evidence-based training practices includes things like:
On the flip-side, there are also things we know don't help learning. Obviously, long-winded "information dumps" aren't helpful. And you can probably think of some other things that are common in job training that don't foster learning and performance improvement--lectures, disorganized PowerPoints, etc. But there are also some things on this list that may surprise you, including so-called "learning myths"--things people THINK help in training even though there's no evidence they do or there's evidence it doesn't. Probably the most widely believed learning myth is that designing training to match people's so-called learning styles leads to better learning outcomes.
To learn more about evidence-based training and learning myths, check out:
In the section on evidence-based training practices, we placed blended learning in the evidence-based camp.
Blended learning means simply providing training in a mix of training delivery methods. For example, you might use the simple "flipped model" of blended learning in which you begin with some form of online instruction (elearning, video, etc.) and then follow that up with instructor-led training (ILT). You can blend in other ways, and blended can be thought of as including more than just online training and instructor-led training (consider written materials, team exercises, social learning, and more).
Evidence shows that blended learning programs tends to lead to better training and learning outcomes than do training programs that are simply online or simply live, instructor-led training.
The secret is to select the training delivery method for each learning activity that will best support employees as they attempt to learn to perform the learning objectives (remember, learning objectives are what training is all about).
To learn more about blended learning, check out our blended learning guide (below).
One of the best books we know of on the topic of training design is Julie Dirksen's classic Design for How People Learn. We recommend you buy a copy and read it yesterday.
For even more Julie Dirksen learning goodness, check out the following:
You may remember that the final "E" in ADDIE stands for evaluation. Evaluation is the process of seeing if your training was effective or not--keep in mind, there can be different ways in which training can be effective.
Just as ADDIE is not the only training design/development model, there are multiple models out there for training evaluation. The most common, by far, is the Kirkpatrick Four-Level Training Evaluation model. In Kirkpatrick's model, training is evaluated in four different ways (or at four different levels). These four levels are:
Again, while Kirkpatrick's is the most common training evaluation model, there are others, including Kaufman, Phillips, Brinkerhoff, and Thalheimer/LTEM. You may find you mix-and-match different evaluation models for different purposes.
To learn more about training evaluation, check out:
If your organization is looking to add online training and continuing education capabilities to your current learning programs, you may find there's a lot that goes into making the correct decision for your AEC organization.
That's where our free, downloadable Guide to Online Training & Continuing Education in the AEC Industry comes into play. We'll help you learn the basic tech and terms of online learning (xAPI, SCORM, LMS, VILT, etc.) as well as training tips like some of the ones we've already covered in this article.
Download our guide now and of course, feel free to get in touch with us if you have any questions or would like to demo our AEC learning solutions.
We hope you found this compilation of L&D, training, and performance-improvement resources helpful and we hope you can use them to supercharge your own AEC-industry L&D program.
Of course, we'd love to partner with your organization to provide job training and continuing education to your architects, engineers, and construction trade workers (and everyone else in your organization as well--we've got safety training, leadership training, DE&I training, and much, much more to offer!). Give us a shout when you're ready to go to the next level with Vector Solutions AEC.