Year after year, organizations spend huge sums of money on training their employees. They provide training for not only for technical proficiency but also for role-related soft skills as well. A recent survey revealed that average Learning and Development (L&D) expenditure per employee stands around Rs. 42,000/-. Larger firms spend over Rs.50,000/- and those with less than 1000 employees spend around Rs. 17,000/-annually.
At least 50% of the companies surveyed, spend anywhere between Rs.7000 and 33,000 on employee-specific L&D initiatives. Conventional training programs have predominantly been based on standard content, curated and delivered by qualified instructors. Right from the scope of the program, topics covered, format of training the entire agenda is pre-defined.
While the objective of such training programs is to educate employees, they don’t fully serve the purpose because these programs:
• Are mostly theoretical.
• Do not consider participant specific present capabilities and skill levels.
• Have a definite start and end date within which the learning must happen.
• Do not factor in the learning style or pace of the participant.
• Do not really assess/evaluate the participant’s understanding and ability to practically apply the concepts/techniques they have been trained on.
The extent of actual learning and skill development is never quite complete, as the traditional training is only for a specific duration, and there are limited means/tools to measure the outcomes. Also, sitting through long duration classes for a week/month, then clearing an assessment at the end of each training course may not add substantial and measurable value every time. , This holds true in case where the participants have prior experience and the program covers generic concepts, that learners are already familiar with.
Influence of OBT on Learning
Outcome Based training (OBT), on the other hand, creates an open learning environment, encouraging employees to pick up new skills or hone their existing skills at their own pace, unlike time-based programs.
What is blended learning?
Blended learning is an educational approach that comprises of e-learning tools blended with the classroom methods. Nowadays, this type of learning is used especially in large scale. The trainers deliver lectures and online interactions in real time, using virtual whiteboards is a glaring example of Blended learning.
Based on the blended learning model, OBTs comprise an optimal mix of both classroom and technology-mediated sessions delivered via the internet. Adoption of technology facilitates self-paced learning, as trainees can access learning modules, submit assignments, and interact with fellow trainees and instructors from their computers or mobile phones. Trainees are free to catch up with learning anywhere, anytime from their personal gadgets.
Salient features of OBT that enhance learning experience include but aren’t limited to:
• Flexible learning environment conducive to self-paced learning
Being learner-centric, OBTs address the different learning styles of adults in a better manner, allowing them a free hand with what and how they wish to learn, minimizing the trainer or instructor’s role to a guide who offers valuable assistance and advice on how best learners can tap knowledge from the training programs and apply them in their daily work.
• Clear definition of measurable objectives and learner expectations
Corporate Training Programs are increasingly moving to the outcome-based training model, having clear learning outcomes. They detail the skills and level of expertise participants will be able to acquire on completing the course. This sets the right expectation with the employees who know what they are in for while also proving cost-effective to the employers as they fund just the right training programs that bridge skill or knowledge gaps to ensure that employees excel in their jobs.
Invariably moving training programs outside the conventional classrooms and facilitating self-paced learning involves the use of e Learning methodologies and technologies to deliver training modules and evaluate performance. In fact, blended learning can prove effective for participants to share their knowledge with other members of the training group. Here they engage in group discussions and get expert opinions and clarifications from the instructors, bridging any knowledge gaps in the process.
• A holistic learning ecosystem
With OBTs learning is not simply limited to content but is rather holistic as there are quite a few intangible benefits that ensue. As trainees are free to chart out their own learning plans, they get better at planning, scheduling, setting goals and achieving them as well in their own way. Not solely relying on the training content, they get to refer to more details, explore alternatives, ask questions and seek answers on their own. Teamwork, analysis and communication skills are bound to improve as they engage in group activities with fellow trainees. Self-paced learning also instills self-discipline.
• Comprehensive Assessment of participant’s skills at the end of the training
Assessments and evaluations in OBT are not limited to written examinations or tests at the end of the course, but require learners to demonstrate their knowledge and skill levels they’ve picked up during the training program in different ways. Hence, in addition to conventional assessment techniques,
Group discussions, case studies, problem resolutions, and presentations which are often used to gauge participants’ competencies in applying their learning to real-life situations as well.
• Assessment linked to employee performance
Actual learning and development of the trainee’s skills and competencies are directly reflected in their performance at work. Companies also find it more practical to assess the effectiveness of OBT from employee performance, making it easier to justify training costs as well as retain and reward talent suitably.
• Recognition of exceptional performance
With employers taking note of performers and recognizing all the hard work that goes in, it is more likely for employees to make the best use of the training opportunities to hone and apply their knowledge and skills suitably, mutually benefiting them and the company as well.
OBT also is known as the competency-based training is ideal for adult learning, as learning styles and patterns are strongly established. Learning cannot be forced, but rather motivated and encouraged to be truly useful in real time and OBT integrates this philosophy.