There are many ways to make better paper manufacturing training materials, and as a result make it easier for paper manufacturing workers to gain the knowledge and skills they need to perform their jobs well. And that in turn makes the paper manufacturing companies those people work for more productive, efficient, and profitable.
One way is to include well-designed graphics, videos, and other visuals as part of your training materials. That’s true no matter what kind of training you’re talking about: if you’re leading instructor-led training, putting together a PowerPoint presentation, creating written training materials, developing your own eLearning courses for online learning, or getting paper manufacturing online courses from a training provider.
But it’s not entirely simple. You can’t just create any visuals. Some visuals will make your training more effective, and others will make it less effective. There’s a mix of art and science to using the right visuals, and it’s based on what experts know about how people learn.
In the article below, we’ve included some general guidelines that you can follow to create effective visuals for your own training materials. Or, to evaluate training materials made by others. Follow these tips and you’ll dramatically improve the quality of any visuals in your training and, as a result, the effectiveness of your training materials for paper manufacturing employees.
We’ve also written a second article on visuals for paper manufacturing training that extends the lessons in this one.
Before you begin, feel free to watch the short video below to get an idea of what compelling workforce training visuals can do.
You might also be interested in our guide to online training for paper manufacturers.
All training should have a goal—what you want the employee(s) who are taking the training to be able to do when the training is over. This instructional goal will be in the form of one or more learning objective.
In the same way, you should have a goal for each visual put into your training materials. And that goal should be to help your employees satisfy the learning objective(s) for the training.
And so it follows from those two points that every visual should support or match the instructional goals of the training—the learning objectives.
Let’s look at that more closely. There are two components to it. First, you’ve got to have learning objectives. Below is a sample of the beginning of an Introduction to Paper and Board Machines training course. The learner can see the learning objectives clearly listed before the training begins. And you’ve used the learning objectives to make sure you’re providing the correct training content.
If having learning objectives is the first component of this, then the second component is to include visuals in the training that help your employees satisfy those learning objectives.
For example, in the course shown above, one of the learning objectives states that the employees must be able to “describe different types of forming sections, including Fourdrinier,” when the course is over.
It follows, then, that the course should include visuals to help your employees learn to describe the forming section of a Fourdrinier paper machine. Like the twpimage below,
The first image shows where a forming section is on a paper machine.
The second image explains a Foudrdrinier forming section.
Another way to make sure your visuals help to create an effective learning experience is to make sure they are properly matched to the text or spoken words.
This may seem obvious, but many times training materials include visuals that are only somewhat related to the training topic. What’s worse, it’s not unusual to see images that are totally unrelated, either. For example, I’ve seen safety training materials that included a picture of a pumpkin just because the training session was happening sometime around Halloween.
By contrast, consider the video below, which is one screen from a Pulping and Papermaking Overview training course. The visuals and audio are synced to reinforce what the employee is supposed to learn–there’s nothing distracting, unrelated, or poorly timed.
In the section above, I mentioned that I’ve seen photos of pumpkins in a safety training presentation simply because the training was held sometime around Halloween.
That’s an example of an unrelated visual. It doesn’t support the training or learning process in any way, it risks distracting or confusing the employees, and it shouldn’t be there. Chances are you’ve seen unrelated visuals in training, too.
By contrast, look at the image below, taken from a Paper Machine Drying training course. This section of the course explains dyer hoods. You’ll see we’ve temporarily removed all background imagery–the room but also other parts of the machine. And we’ve highlighted and labeled the dryer hood to draw more attention to the key point the audio is talking about at the time.
That’s a related image free of potential distractions, and that’s effective training.
No, we don’t mean outer space here, though it’s fun to think about job training for astronauts.
What we’re talking about now is using visuals to help workers learn about things that exist in the real world: like the machinery and equipment they work with on the job.
For example, consider the video sample below, taken from a Green Liquor Clarifiers training course.
The video does a great job of illustrating what a sedimentation clarifier looks like in the real world and how it works.
It goes one step further, too, to show something that an ordinary picture or video couldn’t—it shows the rake sweeping through the green liquor inside the clarifier, taking advantage of a unique possibility of animated training videos that include 3D animations.
Another real strength of effective visuals is the ability to illustrate a cause-and effect relationship.
For example, consider the image below, taken from a Paper Machine Winder Slitting training course.
The image shows the winders lined up along a sheet running through a winder. This is a victory in itself, as it’s difficult to see this in real life safely.
But the image also uses the green highlights to demonstrate the function of slitters—slitting the paper sheet lengthwise. As you may know, the actual separation of the sheet is very difficult or nearly impossible to truly see in real life.
Our final general tip is to create training and visuals that engage your employees in an active learning experience. Active learning experiences are always more effective learning experiences (check this article for more on active learning and other adult learning principles).
For example, consider the interactive question screen below from an Air-Padded Headbox training course. The interactivity helps to keep the employees engaged in the learning experience, and the visual aspect helps make it clear that the question is directly related to the job.
If the visuals in your training materials follow and take advantage of the guidelines listed above, you’re well on your way to developing an effective training program for paper manufacturing employees.
What about you? Do you have some of your own ideas about what makes a visual an effective training aid? If so, share them with us below.
And feel free to download the free guide below, which is all about using online paper manufacturing training materials, including online paper manufacturing training courses and a learning management system (LMS), at your paper manufacturing facility to improve the knowledge and skills of your workers.