Why are there no digital tools for professional trainers?

Despite the obvious teething problems, e-learning is sweeping through the worlds of education and corporate training. EdTech start-ups are increasingly the target of generous funding and investment. Classroom innovation — especially using interactive technology — is a multi-billion dollar business.

Education is being rapidly and dramatically transformed by technology. Except, it seems, in one area: the business itself of professional training, where a generic, unfit-for-purpose and un-integrated set of tools is the trainer’s resource of choice. Or is it the only choice? Online desk research comes up with a big fat zero when one seeks for dedicated professional tools for trainers.

You might argue that, for example, there is Microsoft PowerPoint and that everyone uses that software to create training presentations — and it works fine, surely?

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Can online courses substitute classroom training in the corporate world?

You can sit in your cozy living room and learn JavaScript on Codeacademy or take Intro to Physics course on Udacity. You choose the topic, the time and the place – what’s there not to like? Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are great! They are great in the same way as books are great – fantastic collections of information that you can obtain whenever it’s suitable for you.

However, they have been criticized a lot because of the low completion rate, which is around 10% on average. It might seem very low, though in many cases an online course is taken just to check out the new possibilities of online learning, without the intention of actually finishing it. On the other hand, there are online courses that have more than 40-50% completion rate. Then again, Udacity founder Sebastian Thrun has admitted, “we have a lousy product“, and now Udacity has taken on corporate training.

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2013 in review

We have passed into 2014, and besides the great wishes for the upcoming year, it is an opportunity to reflect on what happened with us in the past year.

The year 2013 was a breakthrough for us. The side-project we started doing as a hobby turned into an actual business that engaged us fully and showed we have the potential to make an impact on the world.

We started with having a simple landing page, a logo, and a team with many plans. Now we are looking forward to 2014 after we launched a new landing page and our blog, had awesome meetings all over Europe, moved to Tallinn, founded a company, learned a lot, designed and coded a prototype and pitched to the first potential customers and investors. We are few steps away from the beta release of TrainedOn, and we cannot wait to make a dent in the universe of education!

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Why trainers don’t share?

While working on TrainedOn we’ve had the chance to interview many experienced soft skills trainers and educators from around the world. We were discussing individual working habits and the training industry in general to better understand trainers’ needs and desires.

We received honest but sometimes puzzling replies to our questions. When we touched the topic of sharing materials, almost all interviewees told us they are reluctant to share training materials with each other.

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Trainer styles – don’t judge a book by it’s cover

Have you ever judged a trainer’s performance by how do her slides or flipcharts look like? Are there nice pictures included, or triggering messages written on them? Such visuals are only providing a superficial perspective of a training, they are only the ‘tip of the iceberg’: the slides and flips are there only to complete the learning objectives, to help passing on the main message. The real learning happens by doing exercises or by providing a new, triggering perspective about the given training topic, whilst also providing the space for reflection.

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Training preparation – the start of a training workflow

The key to a good training is preparation. General rule of thumb says, when preparing a standard training you should spend around 3 hours of preparation for 1 hour of training. And this just covers the average case, while if you are new to a given training topic or the topic is rather complex, the time spent can increase drastically.

But what is considered preparation? The preparation can include communicating to your clients and/or participants, drafting the training outline, arranging the logistics, creating/updating the training materials, etc. If we take the mentioned formula, for a one day training workshop a good preparation would take 2-3 days. Can all these elements of preparation fit in such a short time?

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TrainedOn moved to Tallinn

Tallin pic by XisPics

We have been quiet for some time, but things are about to change. We recently moved to Tallinn as we got selected for a startup accelerator – Startup Wise Guys. Finally we are in one place and fully dedicated to work on TrainedOn in order to develop a valuable service for the training community.

First two and a half weeks have passed by extremely fast mainly due to so much activities and energy. The greatest value of the accelerator for us is the network it provides. Starting with the mentors and investors that we meet, who guide us with the right questions, pieces of advice and play around with the ideas. Extending from there some of them even deliver training themselves or at least they know the corporate educators. Not only have we been introduced to some of the most prominent trainers in Estonia, we are getting more and more contacts all around the world and this has lead us to quite extensive validation phase of TrainedOn’s potential value for trainers.

Training world is vast and very diverse which means that we can’t cover everything from the start therefore we are working on figuring out the where we can help the trainers the most. Soon, after some more interviews, we will publish a survey to ask you what are your training related practices. So stay tuned and leave us comments.

TrainedOn Team

Welcome to Delivery Matters!

Here you will find stories written by a team of young trainers with a common background in a youth organisation, who are passionate about education and lifelong learning. We are also excited about technology and we always try to see how it can help us in what we do.

Over the years we have tried various tools in preparing our training content. We used mind maps for brainstorming and creating quick outlines, text documents for writing down specific procedures and spreadsheets for training schedules. These tools may be good enough for a specific task, but not for iterating them in an collaborative manner. And training preparation is exactly that, an iterative and collaborative process. From working with our clients, trying to understand their needs, to flipping through our archives in search for a perfect exercise, the process for us was never linear and straightforward.

After gathering input from other professional communities we realised that we are not alone. This is a global need and we want to address it – with TrainedOn™!

Like with training preparation, understanding the needs of the people is important when creating a service such as TrainedOn™. Therefore, we summoned this blog to life in order to strengthen the community and raise a discussion about training, non-formal education, and the technology that supports them.

Our aim for TrainedOn™, in the big picture, is to provide an interactive and fun place for all the parties of the training world. We want to help trainers to focus more on the content and quality of the training they provide. One of our heroes, Sir Ken Robinson, said in his TED talk, “It is education that is meant to take us into this future that we can’t grasp”. Therefore, it’s important for everybody to constantly develop themselves and trainers have a great role in this. We believe that, in the end, delivery is what matters.

Let’s keep delivering!
TrainedOn Team