What is a Training Environment?
A training environment is a setting or platform designed to help individuals develop new skills, competencies, or knowledge. Training environments can take many different forms depending on industry, learner, and context. Some of the more common terms associated with training environments include:
- Physical training environments typically take the form of a classroom, lab, or training center. Generally, an instructor is responsible for managing a physical training environment, though trainees may also have a chance to engage in self-directed learning.
- On-the-job training is exactly what it sounds like. An employee essentially ‘learns by doing,’ acquiring knowledge in the course of performing their regular duties. Microlearning tends to be highly successful in this environment.
- Virtual training environments are primarily software-based. In some cases, they may incorporate virtual reality or augmented reality for increased engagement and immersion.
- Blended training environments combine one or more of the above.
Understanding the Importance of a Training Environment
Training is the lifeblood of any effective business, and training environments represent the mechanism through which training is delivered. Without them, an organization’s employees cannot:
- Develop new skills or refine existing skills. This is particularly important in the wake of COVID-19, as workplace skill development and digital transformation go hand in hand.
- Learn about and adapt to industry trends or market shifts.
- Improve their knowledge about fundamental topics such as cybersecurity.
- Gain support for their professional development in the workplace.
- Support and maintain a collaborative, learning-focused organizational culture.
Training environments are also critical to employee onboarding, and frequently play a key role in attracting and retaining top talent. They’re also important for sales enablement, with virtual training environments providing a platform for both product demonstrations and customer education.
Creating an Effective Training Environment: Requirements and Best Practices
Because training programs and training environments go hand-in-hand with one another, the same general best practices apply to both:
- Start with your use case. What kinds of training programs will this environment need to support? Does your organization intend to use it exclusively for internal education, or will you leverage it for customer-facing purposes, as well?
- Understand your training objectives. For each of your organization’s training programs, clearly define their desired outcome — what should learners gain from the program, and how does this benefit your organization? More importantly, what features must be present within your training environment to support these outcomes?
- Involve all stakeholders. Every single team involved in the development of your training programs should also have a say in your choice of training environment, whether that takes the form of a software platform or a virtual lab.
- Prioritize engagement. The days when a training program could make an impact through static content alone are well behind us. Your training environment needs to support engaging, interactive, hands-on learning to remain effective.
- Provide variety. Your training environment should support multiple learning and training styles, including self-directed training, instructor-led training, and hands-on training. Learners should also have ready access to whatever content they require for the program, which may include digital resources such as textbooks, webinars, and presentations alongside virtual sandboxes.
- Don’t neglect the cultural element. Particularly if you intend to use your training environment to help employees skill up and reskill, you’ll want to assess your organizational culture, ensuring that it supports inclusivity and encourages collaborative learning. Learners should feel comfortable both asking questions and sharing their perspective when relevant.
- Embrace continuous improvement. Just as you should continuously assess and refine your training programs, so too should you regularly evaluate your training environment. It should evolve over time based not just on your organization’s changing needs but also on.
- Analytics are key. You cannot understand what you don’t monitor and measure. For this reason, your training environment should allow you to track key performance indicators related to your training and onboarding programs.
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