Magazine article Training & Development

Easier Evaluation with Web-Based Tools

Magazine article Training & Development

Easier Evaluation with Web-Based Tools

Article excerpt

The web has created new options for training evaluation and reinforcement. Here's a sampling. Email. An easy-to-use technology for training follow-up is Web-based email. If you plan to send email to a few people, you can create an email list using your own email program or a Web browser. For example, Netscape's address book lets you add names and email addresses easily. If you plan to send a lot of email regularly, you can buy email management software that runs on your company's Web server or get it cheaply from an Internet service provider.

Email lets you get responses to a single question at intervals of one week after training, one month after, and three months after. You're likely to get a high response rate if you send a short email that recipients can answer immediately.

Here are some questions you might ask.

* How did you describe what you learned in training to co-workers? (sent after one week)

* What aspects of the training are most relevant to your work? (sent after one month)

* What concepts from the training have you been able to apply in your job? (sent after three months)

An advantage to gathering that kind of information via email is that it's easy to copy and paste excerpts into summary reports. You can also use email to reinforce training transfer. It's common at the end of a course to ask participants to write several goals. You can send an email to each participant several months later to ask how they've been successful (or unsuccessful). Collect success stories and include them in an email update sent to all participants.

Audio teleconferencing. Audio teleconferencing has been available, though expensive, for some time from all of the major phone companies. Now that there are independent teleconference service providers, costs have gone down. Prices vary widely - as low as US$50 for a 30-minute, 800-call with 10 participants.

Here are the basic teleconferencing options.

* "Meet me" calls. Participants call in to an assigned number and incur their own long distance charges.

* 800 dial-in service. Participants use an assigned 800 number; the cost is billed to the originator.

* Dial-out services. A central operator dials out to each participant; calls can also be billed centrally.

Some teleconferencing services provide such options as an audiotape (or transcript) of the call and polling capability in which participants use the keypad on their phones to select answers to predefined questions.

One way to use teleconferencing for evaluation is to conduct a focus group with attendees, either by preselecting the focus group or by sending an access number to a large group and asking for volunteers. That's most effective for asking participants about content or delivery because it's difficult to conduct a free-flowing, open-ended exchange via telephone. It also works well with small groups because it's hard to conduct a focused conversation with more than a dozen people. Keep the calls brief; participants tend to tire after 30 minutes.

In teleconferencing you can't see the other participants, so it's difficult to know whose turn it is and make sure everyone has a turn. At the beginning of a call, ask everyone to draw a clock face and write in participants names starting at 12 moving clockwise. Then, everyone can keep track of whose turn it is and who has responded.

Web-based surveys. Sending follow-up surveys via mail and fax can be costly and get a low response rate. …

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