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3 Reasons Technical Trainers Should Assign Homework

Our organization is currently introducing a new CRM system to all staff. I appreciate how the project manager has chosen to roll the system out, beginning with the design of the training. Prior to attending the initial training session, staff members must complete a series of “homework” assignments – short assignments intended to introduce us to basic functions. Only once the homework has been completed are staff members allowed to take the more intensive, detailed in-person training session.

Why is this design better than simply holding a 4- or 8-hour in-person training session and getting the whole thing out of the way in one fell swoop? I’ll offer three reasons:

Homework Calibrates Expectations

Sometimes we turn up in the training room and aren’t quite on the same page as the facilitator when it comes to what we expect vs. what the facilitator will be presenting. When a homework assignment has been assigned and completed prior to the in-person training session, we ought to be awfully close to being on the same page as the facilitator.

Homework Primes Learners’ Brains

At my organization, our schedules are so jam-packed that we often have no idea what our next meeting will be about, let alone what that mandatory training session is about that popped up on our calendars. And when this happens, it takes us a few minutes (or maybe hours) to warm up to the content being presented. When we enter the training room having completed pre-work assignments, we should know exactly what topic we’ll be covering, and we may even show up with some specific questions or ideas about what specifically we need to take away before the training session ends.

Homework Turns The Training Into A Process As Opposed To An Event

One-time training sessions just aren’t as memorable or as sticky as training programs that have various touch points with the learners. Homework or pre-work followed by in-person training where questions can be asked and answered followed by specific action steps make up a process that guides learners through independent practice, real-time learning support and multiple touch points.

I won’t lie to you. As a learner, I find the idea of pre-work or homework amidst the 97,835 other things I need to do to be a pain in the butt. But, as a learner, I also find the practice of completing pre-work in advance of an in-person session is an incredibly powerful and effective way to learn and retain information about using a new software system.

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