Over the last several years, there seems to be a trend in the increase of employers relying on computer based training (CBT) as the main method for employee training. In using CBT, employees complete training sessions by sitting in front of a computer screen to complete the training. There are advantages and disadvantages to this type of training.
There are several advantages to having CBT available for your employees. One clear advantage is that the training can be completed at any time, day or night. The employee can complete the training according to his or her schedule. Some of the trainings offered can be started and stopped as needed until completed. CBT can free up schedules and potentially decrease the amount of overtime required to conduct classroom training. Trainings can be as little as several minutes to as long as several days.
A second advantage, depending on the platform used for training, the training sessions can be customized. Often times, companies rely on outside vendors for a training platform. Each platform comes with a library of training classes for them to use. Some of the training classes can be generic while others are specific. Some platforms allow you to customize the trainings to suit your needs.
A third advantage is that the CBT can be either used as a standalone solution or blended with other trainings delivery methods. CBT could be used for the knowledge assessments for online or in person training. The employee can take the test in a relaxed environment that allows for an individual’s test taking style.
A final advantage is that training and records can be automated. Once a training class is complete, the employee’s training can be logged in a database. The database shows the training that each employee has completed. Training records can then be easily managed. Tests and quizzes can be administered and scored online.
Even with the above advantages listed, the use of CBT as the sole training method can be detrimental to the employee.
First, the employee does not have any interaction with other employees or trainer at the time of the training. We learn by seeing, hearing and doing. Interaction is a key component. We learn from each other’s experiences, stories and discussions. CBT does not allow for employee interaction. The programs are rigid and do not provide flexibility for interaction. If a student has a question, there is no one to ask a question.
Second, when an employer only has CBT available, how do they address any hands on skills? Some companies rely on the online tests as a skill session. The online tests are knowledge evaluations. We have had many students in live classes demonstrate they understand the topic, however, when it came time for them to perform or demonstrate the skill, they struggled to perform. Reading how to do something and actually having to perform the skill are very different.
CBT has a place in a Safety Management System. Many times, getting employees together for classroom instruction can be a logistical problem. CBT allows for the student to conduct the training at their own pace on their schedule. CBT does not allow for hands on skill demonstrations. Classroom instruction with a trainer allows for interaction which is preferred to many students and instructors alike. Perhaps a blended approach could be a viable solution. Use CBT to obtain general knowledge and trainer\trainee training for re-enforcement of knowledge and hands on skills.
Solely relying on CBT for a safety training program will shift your safety program away from a solid base of interactive hands on training which has proven to be an effective method when it comes to safety.