There is no doubt that modern technology is growing in leaps and bounds and will continue to do so. This is readily seen in the amount of software that is being produced and the advancements that are being made in this industry. Software is something that many businesses rely on, but it is also a resource that is used a great deal by the general public.
Businesses that are going to rely on software often have the task of making sure that their staff is going to become proficient with it. This means there will be a learning process. One of the challenges is that everyone learns differently. So this raises the question as to what is the best way to teach people new software?
A lot of employees are adverse to change. Most often, the introduction of software is an indicator of a change being made. The type of change and to what degree will depend on the software itself. Those responsible for teaching the new software have the first challenge of changing the mindset of those who may be against the new software. If they don’t, then they are dealing with closed minds and no teaching technique will be effective.
Instructors should explain to the employees what’s in it for them. What is the software going to do for them? For example:
- It may make their daily tasks much easier.
- It could help them automate tasks that they now have to do manually.
- Then it may help them to reduce errors.
Anything that the software can do to benefit the users will be readily accepted.
Keep it Simple
No matter how sophisticated the software is keep the explanation of its use as simple as possible. Start from the beginning of how to use the software. Don’t assume that the new users are going to be familiar with simple processes like logging into the software, for example. No matter how straightforward or self explanatory a step is for using the software, it should be fully explained.
Teach in Segments
Most software has its basic use along with advanced use. Trying to get students to grasp too much in too little time will only lead to frustration. The software should be broken down into segments where one step is entirely taught before moving onto the next one. Instructors should oversee the time. Keeping an eye on how long each section takes to explain. Frequent breaks should be taken at the end of each segment. Also, participants should be encouraged to ask questions.
It also helps that following each break; a quick recap should be done about the previous training segment. Questions should be encouraged. Participants may have thought about some additional questions during their break. Something that should be avoided is rushing through the training program.
Hands on Training
Many people learn much more effectively when they can go through the learning process with a hand on approach. If possible participants should have access to the software on their laptops or devices so they can go through each step themselves as they are being taught a segment of the software.
Plan for Extra Training
If possible at the end of the formal training session, arrange for a more one on one training session at the end. This will give those that are struggling some confidence in knowing that they will be able to get extra help in areas they don’t understand. This way, they won’t be so frustrated when the instructor is moving onto to a new segment of the software.
Training In Segments
Depending on the software, the training may need to be conducted beyond one day. If this is the case, then the basics should be taught on the first day. Participants should have access to the software in between training segments so they can practice what they have learned. They can also identify any problems they may have, which can be addressed at the next training segment. The second training segment should be focused on the more advanced features of the software.
All too often, all the benefits and features of the software are not fully utilized. If these are going to be beneficial to the company, then it is important that the users are going to be aware of them as well as comfortable using them. If the software contains features that are not likely to be used, then these should not be included in the training. It can lead to confusion and memory retention of a process that is not used very often will be reduced.
Once the training is finished, the perfect scenario is to have someone on site for the first few days that the software is going to be used in the Company setting. This way, as users begin to adapt to the software, they have the security of knowing that somebody is available to support them if the need arises.
Instructors must be patient and have some empathy towards the participants. It is easy for the instructor who is very familiar with the software to lose sight of the fact that those being taught do not have the same familiarity. Some will catch on quickly while others may struggle. Instructors must be cautious that they do not make these participants feel inferior.
Having an additional resource for participants to have full access to will be beneficial. Some people learn easier by reading material rather than listening to verbal instructions. Knowing that this is available to them will help to relieve some of the stress during the training period. It will allow participants to be able to concentrate on what the instructor is teaching. They will know that if they miss something, there will be an additional resource to refer back to.
A good instructor needs to be able to read those that are learning. Looking for signs of boredom, confusion, or becoming tired are all warning signs that the training program is not going the way it should be. Instructors should have an alternate plan for teaching in the event that one method is not being effective.
The teaching of using new software should not be difficult if the training is well planned out and enough time is dedicated to it.