Here’s a nice example I stumbled on this week that illustrates the transition that training needs to make.
A few years ago the UPS driver training unit had a mini-revolt on its hands from younger drivers who were unhappy with the long traditional classroom-based training program required for new drivers. The program was experiencing increasingly higher failure rates and the number of tasks that had to be learned was becoming too much for classroom delivery. Peggy Emmart, corporate schools coordinator of UPS corporate training and development department commented “while in the early ’90s our DSPs (drivers) may have needed to concentrate on eight key tasks each day, they now routinely perform 30 to 40 major tasks within the same time frame.”
UPS responded by completely overhauling the driver training program into a simulation and immersion based experience called UPS Integrad. It included a training facility that incorporated a mix of e-learning, simulations, virtual learning, and immersive learn by doing.
Here is a video feature from ABC news on the program. Click the image to take you to the video. There is a short ad first–be patient (sorry I couldn’t embed it).
The Integrad program has “exceeded expectations” in all three of the program’s primary goal areas, which include enhanced DSP safety, decreased new driver turnover, and accelerated time to proficiency.
“It wasn’t about video games, it was about providing hands-on application and allowing trainees to learn by doing in a way that connects unambiguously with their jobs”.
When UPS originally started the re-design effort they thought the answer to training younger workers was going to be video game-type training. Through additional research, they learned it wasn’t about video games, it was about “providing hands-on application and allowing trainees to learn by doing in a way that connects unambiguously with their jobs”. I think this is a useful caution to e-learning designers moving down the path video game style instruction.
Here’s an article that describes the program in more detail: UPS Moves Driver Training From the Classroom to the Simulator
But is it appropriate for knowledge workers?
The UPS program is an example of mostly physical or psychomotor learning, but the lessons hold true for knowledge work as well. For managers to learn “problem solving and decision making” they need to make decisions and solve real work problems first in a simulated setting and then in real work context with feedback and coaching. New consultants need to consult; learning designers need to design learning, engineers need to design and test solutions all within safe, feedback rich, immersive work contexts.
As UPS summarized so simply, “The point of all this hands-on instruction is to simulate-as closely as possible-exactly what it’s like to be a…”fill in the blank“.