Mandatory Training

I felt like it had been a while since I blogged anything and as today is looking quiet-ish I thought I’d look down my list of topics to write on…

Amongst the options I’d written Mandatory Training as something I wanted to cover as Falmouth are putting the finishing touches to a new mandatory training programme for staff using the VLE but I wasn’t sure if I had enough thoughts to merit a blog post…

Then I found this meme (created by someone using the rather excellent memegenerator application on line) and suddenly everything fell into place!

In fact tbh the feature image for this post manages to say so much I barely need to write anything, but I shall endeavor to add something…


So here we go – Mandatory training … or (more in line with what I want to write about) …

Why everyone hates mandatory training and what can we do about it?
The first part of that is quite easy to answer!

  1. People hate it because by in large it is presented as being a nuisance. How many people join a new organisation and have their manager say “hey great to have you on board, we’re going to get you inducted into life in [organisation X] and as part of that you are going to get to enjoy our fantastic mandatory training programme”?
  2. People hate it because its often hard to see why its relevant (and the parts that are relevant are often lost in a sea of rubbish.
  3. People hate it because its badly presented, often as an online course with awful navigation, clip art video presentations and poor narration.
  4. People hate it because it takes ages.
  5. People hate it because the associated testing of MT programmes are often based around questions that test whether you viewed the course, not whether you actually engaged with the content.
    An example of the sort of question I’m talking about might be “How many people in the intellectual property video were wearing green hats?” – this would test to see if you watched the video, but not if you had understood the IP issues it outlined.


So what can we do about it?

  1. Present it as worth doing! But to do this it needs to actually be worth doing…
    One thing here in reference to the ET offering is getting backing from senior staff. If deans / heads of colleges / depts have undertaken the training and put their names to it then staff are more likely to feel it is useful and relevant.
  2. Make it relevant… this is a constructive alignment thing. Explain why it is important and then align it to the workplace… at Falmouth the training relating to H&S and COSHH are courses aimed at business and industry outside of the University sector.
  3. Present it well… as an Educational Technologist I spend a lot of time using online resources / courses / video tutorials… and most of the MT courses I have taken have been like rubbing salt in my eyes… it should be possible to view the content as text, audio and image and to navigate trough at the speed you read, listen or watch. It should be possible to view the course both in a linear format and non linear, rewind, revisit and skip sections easily and to reference the course after it is completed. Summaries should be also be available.
  4. Create content that is too the point and quick to view.
  5.  If the training is to be tested, make sure the testing is related to engagement with the content and its application in your specific workplace… Hoop jumping for the sake of hoop jumping just alienates people…

So to be a bit more specific in relation to the ET mandatory training… how do we separate the training we are offering from the other compulsory training (which I fear in its current format there is little hope to save).

I’m optimistic that at least users will see it as being more relevant. Its something that VLE users do want to improve their use and understanding of.

Hopefully by including face to face ‘follow up’ sessions users will also feel like they have a more human connection that a purely online version does not offer. This will also give the team a chance to tailor training to user needs pending who is enrolled onto a session.

This will also, fingers crossed, lead to a community of practice establishing itself around the VLE, possibly with local ‘ET champions’ emerging to help other staff in their areas make better use of the VLE…

We are planning to have an introductory video from the deputy VC – hopefully this will again make users feel the course has more weight than an ‘unsupported’ initiative.

But I think the main thing we have to ensure is that it is user friendly and useful. This comes down to the 3 core precepts of online and blended learning:

  1. Ease of use
  2. Ease of access
  3. Usefulness

It will take a while to establish how well we have done in achieving these goals. A user feedback system is in place so we should be able to iteratively improve the offering over time.

And it is only over time that we will see if the ET ‘Mandy Train’ manages to establish itself as a helpful training provision or joins the likes of DSE and IP training as something you just ‘get it over with’ or actually benefit from in the long term…


I might add some edits / additions here in due course but until such time…

Keep it Ed Tech!


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