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How to create engaging training

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October is Cyber Awareness Month, and serves as a timely reminder for companies to review their information security and data protection policies and training.

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Whether it’s cybersecurity, GDPR or a tutorial on using the office coffee machine – the key to successful training it to make it fun, simple and relevant. Here are some tips on creating engaging training for modern learners, regardless of the subject matter, using MVF’s upcoming plans for Cyber Awareness Month as an example.

Plan, plan and plan some more!

Planning your training is crucial to its success. As with any development activity, defining the goal is key. What do you want your learners to know or be able to do as a result of completing the training?

Once you know this, you can then start to identify the skills, knowledge or behaviours you’re looking to develop and define the objectives for your learning.

For us, our objectives are to make sure all team members are informed about the basics of information security, aware of the potential risks of non-compliance and learned the behaviours now expected of them to keep information and data safe.

These objectives are helping to keep us on track to ensure our training will hit the mark.

It’s all in the design

Before you start the design process, think about the user journey. Do you want them to follow a predefined path or determine their own learning journey? Different learning styles also need to be considered; this means including a variety of activities or interactions to keep all learners happy. Try drag and drop content for activists, scenarios for the pragmatists, infographics for theorists and videos for reflectors.

Collaboration when it comes to design is key. What makes sense to you might not make sense to others, so get plenty of feedback from a wide range of perspectives throughout the design process. Sharing the objectives you set in the planning phase will allow others understand what you’re working towards and help them to structure their feedback.

Variety is the spice of training

I’ve already mentioned using variety to cater for different learning styles, but you should also think about how you will keep your users engaged. If the only time they interact with your content is to click ‘next’ at the end of a page of text or video, then you’ve done it wrong.

The winning formula is to include formative assessments throughout and a summative assessment as a final task. Formative assessments in our learning module takes the form of ‘Knowledge Check!’ questions using scenarios and examples relevant to our learners.

These allow for additional corrective information to be consumed by the learner before they reach the final summative assessment. It also hit our objective of teaching the specific behaviours we want MVFers to start acting out in real life. Keeping training personal and relevant to your audience plays a big part in ensuring they understand how the training relates to their role.

Test everything

From the resolution and how it displays across devices, to the content and interactions your learners will have during the module; everything needs to be tested thoroughly and by multiple people.

The last thing you want is to release a piece of learning and have immediate feedback that something doesn’t work or display correctly – it completely ruins the experience for the user. Testing is also a great opportunity to get a cross section of your intended learners involved before it’s released to your wider audience.

Try hosting a testing lunch where you get a few people in a room to test the training with food provided. This ensures you have their undivided attention and makes for a great environment to capture feedback in real time.

Launch and learn

It’s not enough to just create an amazing piece of learning content – you’ve got to really think about how you launch it to get the maximum exposure, engagement and participation for you to truly achieve your objectives.

To launch our module, we’re looking to create some buzz around the office through a guest speaker for a lunch and learn session, weekly tips on being cyber secure in our internal communications messaging and incentives for completion.

Where we’ve done small things like this in the past, the engagement has been incredible. Launching our GDPR training in May with a themed Awareness Day and some killer prizes for competition saw us achieve more than 60% completion within just one hour. Four teams had completion rates above 90% and every team had a completion rate exceeding 30%.

At the end of any training launch it’s critical to seek feedback from everyone and anyone; it’s all valuable insight into their learning experience. Use this feedback to refine the content and keep this in mind when you’re designing your next piece of online learning.

By James Adams, Learning & Development Partner, MVF

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