Several years ago, when we initiated training sessions at Flowable, it involved traveling to the customer's location, reserving a classroom for a few days, and delivering on-site training. During these training sessions, instructors would teach for extended hours, occasionally opening windows if the room felt stuffy, with regular breaks for networking. If participants had questions, they simply raised their hands for clarification.
In 2020, the pandemic brought a major shift. Instead of having the trainings on-site, everything transitioned to a remote setup. The first adjustments happened quickly: using online meeting tools in software development was not new, but now they were also used for training purposes. It was still a classroom, only this time with a trainer who couldn’t see the participants. Occasionally, technical issues arose where some individuals had non-functional cameras, or some chose not to activate their cameras at all. While for most meetings it’s totally fine to not see the opponent, it becomes essential during a training session's feedback cycle. In on-site training, this aspect is implicitly understood. It becomes immediately apparent when participants start to lose engagement, or when someone has a question during an exercise, and you can readily address their needs by simply approaching them. But now, since it’s online, in the worst case you just talk, talk, talk. When you are lucky, somebody interrupts you for a question. The solution to this is more tooling, as there are tools for making it interactive with quizzes, puzzles and others. Either you prepare the questions, or you just write them down during the training. This makes it even more fun for both sides, but often it’s still a monologue rather than a discussion.
Interactive tools improved online training, but there was still one big challenge to solve: practice. Let's rewind a few months into the pandemic, during a training session's second part featuring customized content. I found myself uncertain about how to fill the entire duration. In the days leading up to this, participants had covered CMMN and BPMN, leaving insufficient time to delve into DMN. I reassured the trainer from the initial part, saying, "No worries, I'll cover this!" and proceeded with the DMN presentation. With a buffer of time at my disposal, I opted not to rush through the material but to invest the necessary time in a hands-on exercise. This hands-on exercise proved to be an enlightening experience, not only for the participants but also for me. After explaining the exercise, there was a 15-minute silence. I patiently awaited questions while participants diligently worked on the task, or so I assumed. After this period, I asked on their progress, and there was no response until one individual eventually said, "Don't wait for me." This was shared by others, all saying, "Don't wait for me." It became evident that none of the participants knew how to create a BPMN process. We collectively decided to take a step back and tackle it together. Instead of showing it myself, I asked one participant to share the screen and I guided him through the process. In summary, the most critical aspect of any training lies in the ability to actively use the tool. No matter how many slides or materials you present, true comprehension only comes when you roll up your sleeves and dive in hands-on.
At this point, me and my team had already started creating explanatory how-to videos. So how does an eLearning course differ from this how-to format? Do the videos only already count for a training experience? What additional benefits does it have for the user?
What sets the eLearning experience apart from a format such as the how-to videos, are the hands-on exercises, with immediate feedback. Many ways lead to the same outcome, and during on-site trainings we can evaluate and discuss different ways. But this does not scale for an eLearning format, as there is no real-time discussion.
Immediate feedback to what the participant is doing ensures that he’s effectively learning the concepts and tasks that you want him to. The idea is simple, for every step the user is doing, validate in the background what the user did and give the user immediate feedback if the task was fulfilled. This allows the user to go down a checklist which will automatically validate if the step the user did is correct. And even better, it opens up the possibility for gamification. The participant can, for instance, get one “star” for each completed task and if he needs additional help through built-in tips, he does not get one. All of this was implemented combined with videos, short text descriptions and made available as our first eLearning. To check it out click here and login with your Flowable account. If you don't have a Flowable account yet, register here.
While it’s possible to listen to other people and stay focused for multiple hours, learning by doing is vastly superior. And this is also what we kept in mind when we built our eLearning. Check out our eLearning platform and login with your Flowable account. If you don't have a Flowable account yet, register here.
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