Top tips for learning transfer

At a recent networking event, members of the Charity Learning Consortium ‘crowd sourced’ solutions to the challenges they face. Here are some of the ideas that they came up with for learning transfer.

What can L&D professionals do to support a meaningful, consistent and sustainable approach to the transfer of learning? How can they support people to take what they learn from training and put it into practice in the workplace? Chris Williams, L&D Project Development Lead at Change Grow Live, asked other members of the Charity Learning Consortium to help solve these questions. Here are some of the tips they came up with:

Adopt the right mindset

  • Let the problem drive the solution: Don’t sheep dip! Don’t just throw training at problems. Find out what the needs are, and what the desired outcomes are first. Start by assuming that all training is about knowledge transfer. Keep articulating the value of learning, instead of just ticking training boxes. Instead of producing a huge calendar of training, what else can be used to meet needs? 
  • Maximise time together: If you have a full days training course, focus on a few different subjects to make the day worthwhile.
  • Design in an agile and iterative way: Training and refreshers should be timely. Ensure training evolves, ideally to fit every need or circumstance. 
  • Use the language of your learners: Staff won’t necessarily know what learning transfer means!
  • Collaborate: Sustainability includes collaborating with contractors like the Charity Learning Consortium. 
  • Network across the organisation – make significant friends.
  • Training starts before people enter the room: They should know what is happening, why and how to really put it into practice.
  • Enhance the environment for learning: What can you do on the day of  training to make it easier for people to learn?

 What happens after training is vital

  • Develop managers skills: Ensure managers have the confidence to keep conversations going way beyond initial training.
  • Keep reminding: Publish top tips from mandatory training on platforms like Workplace to keep it in people’s minds. Add feedback into a postcard to send, so participants get timely reminders
  • Time to practice is essential: Courses can be great but some people don’t get time to use what they’ve learnt. Make action plans to get skills used. Build this into training plans.
  • Lunch time learning: For example, make podcasts available to learners post training, to keep learning alive.
  • Space learning: Set up questions to go out to staff post training, to check knowledge later down the line. 
  • Make sure you follow up: Stop asking people on happy sheets what they will do when they get back to the workplace – make a commitment to see what is happening instead. Are they using the skills they learned? If not, why not? Find a way to make them stick, perhaps using a different style of training.
  • Feedback: Get feedback from learners, course leaders and the training team to establish present needs. Ask people before training what is needed, then a follow up questionnaire on how it’s being used. Find out what worked, made sense, made a difference, was usable in the organisation etc. What do people need to fulfil their aims? What was missing? How could it be done better, differently? Use feedback to inform what happens next.

 Encourage sharing

  • Share in team meetings: Encourage learners to share information with colleagues post training, by adding snippets into team meetings.
  • Identify subject matter experts: Establish who the subject matter experts are in the organisation, who is trained and skilled on what – share the wealth. 
  • Use a ‘train the trainer’ approach: If training is cost-prohibitive, take the financial hit for one user but then get them to inform and train others. Ask learners to come back to train others. 
  • Establish champions: Find skilled and knowledgeable champions to promote different areas of learning. 
  • Share socially: Plug social tools like Yammer into the Charity Learning Consortium’s RoadMap Moodle platform, to keep the conversation going. Or use Workplace (a Facebook platform) as a tool to share information.
  • Create and curate: Develop and curate content to help users share training.

To read summaries, observations and roundups of the CLC Conference 2019 read here

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Case study: Transforming volunteer management training at Cats Protection

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