Tips To Avoid The “Plug-And-Play” Mentality

……And Improve The Quality Of Your Safety Training

Over the years I’ve created 100’s of training videos/DVD’s, and with each and every one of them I included an instructor’s guide.  I learned early on that too many “trainers” don’t know how to train and often plug-and-play, hoping that the video will do the training for them.  By including the instructors guide I provide a set of instructions on how best to teach the subject at hand.  I try to help them avoid some of the common mistakes, and build a class that will achieve real objectives.

Common Mistakes When Using Videos

When conducting train-the-trainer classes and discuss the use of videos, there are a set of “do’s and do not’s” that we discuss.  I cover the mistakes trainers make part first to help the trainers recognize some of their short comings.  These include:

  • Failure to set up the video with an introduction to the topic and why is is important.
  • Failure to point out or comment on specific information or key points that will be convered in the video.
  • Failure to establish each individual’s responsibilities to learn the information in the video and be able to demonstrate or discuss key points from the video and related materials.
  • Reliance on the video to do all the teaching.
  • Failure to provide discussion time round the key points and how they relate to the work of the group.
  • Failure to summarize the informaitn in the video, provide discussion, or to disccuss related information that’s not covered in the video.

Plan For Success

Most experienced trainers will tell you that the secret to success is good pre-planning.  Whether you decide to use video or not, it starts with a clear understanding of the learning or behavioral objectives of the class.  Based on what you want to accomplish, choose the method(s) of instruction for those you plan to instruct.

When using video as part of the instruction process it is important to recognize it’s limitations.  Study after study tells us that there will be little long-term retention of the video content unless it is part of an ongoing process of education. 

Think about the comon mistakes when using videos listed above.  Following ANSI/ASSE Z490.1-2009, here are some tips to help steer you clear of trouble, and to create that ongoing process of education:

  • Consider the reasons for conducting the training and set goals.  What are the specific learning objectives?   How will you verify achievement of the objectives?  Are there observable behaviors?  What are they?
  • Create a short written outline for your class that addresses each of the key points you need to cover to achieve the objectives.  Try to envision the class.  How do you plan to begin?  How will you engage each individual?  Will you use any games or competition to add excitement?  Are there specific examples for the work area that you can reference?  Will you try to use the experience of the class to cover some of the information?
  • Structure the class so there is a defined beginning, middle and end.  At the beginning you should set up the topic; why it is important, how it relates to each individual, and what they will be expected to learn or demonstrate.  The middle is where you teach, show video, discuss, demonstrate, etc.  The ending is where you review, ask for any comments or questions, conduct a quiz or learning exercise, and remind everyone of the objectives one more time.
  • Sustain the learning by creating specific follow up activities or discussion at the individual work areas.  Include the supervisors, or better yet have the supervisors conduct the  follow up in short tool-box-talks.
  • Include observations as part of the ongoing learning process.  Observations allow for reinforcement of proper technique or avoidance of any at risk behaviors.  They also allow for coaching when at-risk- behaviors are observed. 
  • Have fun!  Recent studies by psychologists show a strong correlation between having fun and learning retention.  Amazing as it may sound but, when we are happy the learning sticks through association with the positive feelings created.

Training can be very rewarding when trainers are prepared and plan.  Your class participants will appreciate the effort and better relate to the content.   My best to you as you plan your next class.  Have fun.