Focus more on skill, less on content

In recent years, there has been a lot of discussions about what kind of training content companies should provide to their work force, regardless if it is in a classroom or online.

Traditionally, trainers have been focused on teaching a block of content. For example, how Inventory Management module of Microsoft Dynamics 365 (D365) Finance and Operations work. The content would include the list of functions this module has, types of journals that can be created and posted, variety of transactions that are created as a result, etc.

Blocks of content are usually hard to teach and difficult to retain. There is large amount of materials to cover. In most of these materials, the learner needs to figure out which specific parts to pay attention to. To make matters more challenging, we have an ever-changing work force who is young, computer and mobile savvy, and quite impatient. These factors can make any training that covers a block of content dry and ineffective, even when delivered by a very skilled instructor.

More and more, the training thought process is moving towards teaching skills, not blocks of content. Studies show this is a much more effective and engaging approach. There is still a place for content as it gives the learners a “high level” view when used sporadically and in a focused manner.

The primary priority of a skill-based training is to teach how to perform skills and or tasks. For example, how to create a counting journal during physical inventory in the warehouse. With this approach, the learner will immediately know if the topic at hand is relevant to his job or not. If appropriately reinforced with hands on exercises, real life examples, and proper context, the learner will be able to walk away from training with a new set of skills and will feel accomplished and empowered.

Designing effective and engaging courses has never been easy. As course designers, subject matter experts, and consultants, we can for sure create content and deliver it to learners. But when we get to that finish line and look around, we want to find learners finishing with us, who are equipped to perform the tasks they are supposed to.