Adapting EHS Training for Engaging Learning in the Digital Age
Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) training is a necessary part of many workplaces. However, rapidly evolving technology and emerging changing workplace models are disrupting traditional EHS training methods, and these methods no longer meet the needs of all modern learners.
On top of that, adult learners’ attention spans are dropping. In fact, the average adult has a shorter attention span than a goldfish. So, in this type of training landscape, how do you keep a learner’s attention? How can you ensure your learner is retaining information when traditional training sessions are becoming less effective for certain topics?
In our webinar entitled “Adapting EHS Training: Unveiling Tricks of the Trade for Engaging Learning in the Digital Age,” Alizabeth Aramowicz Smith, Senior Consultant and Health & Safety Practice Leader at Antea Group moderates a discussion with Kylle Barrieau, AOEE and Senior Project Manager, and Jeremy S., MS, WCP, Senior Project Manager, on the subject of EHS training and its evolving landscape, and how to deliver information effectively and efficiently in this new bite-sized digital learning age.
The first thing you should do when it comes to planning a training is consider instructional design, even before content development. There are many models you can follow for instructional design, and they all have common themes. One of the most prominent is the ADDIE model.
The core of the model involves 5 steps:
Models like ADDIE can help push trainers to start by thinking about “why we’re doing this training” before they start thinking about “how to do this training.”
Besides ADDIE, there are many evaluation methods for training out there. For example, there is the Kirkpatrick Model, Learning-Transfer Evaluation Model, Brinkerhoff’s Success Case Method (SCM), and many more. It’s important to be aware that there may be another model that works better for you depending on what outcome you are looking to achieve.
Current EHS Training Trends
Keep it Short
The length of a course should be under 20 minutes. Research suggests that the adult learner can only sustain attention for about that length of time. In fact, with popular TED talks, speakers are required to keep their talk within 18 minutes. Other research says training time can be between 15-30 minutes.
For more complicated topics that don’t fit neatly into a timeframe of under 30 minutes, consider chunking the information. Chunking entails grouping together concepts into smaller bite-sized portions in an orderly way. When this is done effectively, it increases recall because the information is correlated visually and verbally. Chunking isn’t just limited to long presentations. In fact, this technique can be used in any training to help improve recall.
Gamification is the process of adding games or game like elements to something (such as a task) to encourage participation. For training, this means applying elements to the training to not only encourage participation, but to motivate participants and increase effectiveness. The use of gamification should be seen as a tool to supplement in-person, instructor led, and lecture-based courses. However, it should not be relied upon as the sole delivery method for all regulatory compliance training.
As you would assume, some regulatory training is not generally appropriate for full gamification or passive lecturing. Knowing the limitations and appropriateness of gamification in relation to your goal in regulatory safety and health training is hugely important. Some things to think about when you’re considering gamification include:
- Is gamification okay to use solely as the delivery medium?
- Can it be sprinkled in to maintain active participation?
- Is the type of gamification appropriate for learning? (Simulations, challenges, leaderboards)
- Can gamification be used when mixing certain topics together? (Such as an orientation training)
- Can gamification be used for trainings that are spread out over time?
This term often goes hand-in-hand with gamification. It means small dose (generally electronic based) training that is either intended to break down complex subjects into digestible pieces, or it’s used to present small bits of information in an impactful way. Usually, employers weave gamification and microlearning into complex subjects to re-engage an audience and to drive effectiveness.
Game-based learning is different than gamification, as it means you’re turning the entire learning process into a game. This type of learning can contain four primary techniques:
- Active Training – Participants are taking part in the learning actively, not just listening to a lecture or watching a video.
- Distributed Practice – The content is broken out over a longer period, normally at set intervals, or it’s accessible to the learner at their discretion.
- Practice Testing – Think flashcards or instruction where recall is needed, not a pop quiz with a graded end-result.
- Interleaved Practice – This involves weaving subjects together so that participants can learn about two subjects at once, or it can include using different types of gamification or interactions within a module.
Adult Learning Concepts
These current EHS training trends are perfect for engaging adult learners. As you probably already realize, adults learn differently than children. Adult learners need variations such as gamification, microlearning, and repetition of information to retain what they’re learning.
So, besides differing training delivery types, how can you engage an adult learner and ensure they retain the information? Below, we’ll discuss six adult learning concepts based on the work that Malcolm Knowles, an American educator and prolific author on the topic, did in the 1950s-1980s. These core adult learning concepts are great for engaging your adult learning audience and keeping them involved.
1. Need to Know
Adult learners need to know why they are there. It’s critical that you lay out the reasons why the training is being done, and the more authentic you can be the better.
Most adults aren’t interested in passive learning. Adults want to participate and bring forth their own ideas and thoughts, as well as engage in critical thinking.
3. Previous Experience
Adults generally have previous experience to draw on, and you should use that to pull them into the training. Even if a topic is brand new, there are still experiences that are similar to rely on and build from. This is a great point of engagement for your audience.
This is closely tied to "need-to-know." Adult learners want to know how this will help them or what’s in for them. For this, you really need to understand your audience so you can align your course with your learners’ general needs.
While teaching children is typically content oriented, adult learners want to know what the problem is and how we are going to solve it.
Adults are best motivated internally. Training needs to point them back to an internal motivator to be most effective, such as job satisfaction or quality of life.
Key Takeaways: Training Tips Summarized
First, don’t neglect the foundational aspects of instructional design. Whether you use ADDIE or another model, this step will increase your effectiveness with EHS training. Second, embrace diverse ways to deliver your training, whether that’s microlearning, gamification, or something else. While these may not work as a sole solution to a training topic, they can reinforce your message and bring value. Finally, keep in mind that adults learn differently, and using adult learning concepts will not only help them retain the information better, but it will keep them engaged throughout the training even in a fast-paced, bite-sized digital world.
To learn more about training, reach out to Antea Group’s EHS training services team.
About Antea Group
Antea®Group is an environment, health, safety, and sustainability consulting firm. By combining strategic thinking with technical expertise, we do more than effectively solve client challenges; we deliver sustainable results for a better future. We work in partnership with and advise many of the world’s most sustainable companies to address ESG-business challenges in a way that fits their pace and unique objectives. Our consultants equip organizations to better understand threats, capture opportunities and find their position of strength. Lastly, we maintain a global perspective on ESG issues through not only our work with multinational clients, but also through our sister organizations in Europe, Asia, and Latin America and as a founding member of the Inogen Alliance. Learn more at us.anteagroup.com.