Category Archives: Training

Workplace Injury Recordkeeping: New Rules

The long-debated rule requiring employers to annually submit their injury data to OSHA has become a reality. In the past, injury data was kept internal to a company unless OSHA or DOL requested that information. But no more!

The 2016 injury data for nearly every employer in the U.S. must be sent electronically to OSHA by July 1, 2017. For 2016, the only form employers must send OSHA is the 300A Summary. But starting with calendar year 2017, ALL injury data forms must be sent to OSHA. This includes the OSHA 300 Log (which contains the names of injured employees), the 300A Summary, and the 301 Incident Investigation form (which includes details of the incident, medical treatment received, the injury cause, and what the employer is doing to prevent similar incidents in the future).

As if this is not enough, OSHA will make much of this data available to the public. Beginning next year, your “dirty laundry” about injuries in your workplace (employee names will NOT be made public) will be posted for anyone and everyone to see on the OSHA website.

The rule also prohibits employers from discouraging workers from reporting an injury or illness:

  • Requires employers to inform employees of their right to report work-related injuries and illnesses free from retaliation.
  • Employer’s procedure for reporting work-related injuries and illnesses must be reasonable and not deter or discourage employees from reporting.
  • Prohibits retaliating against employees for reporting work-related injuries or illnesses.

It’s a new day, folks. If you have not been able to think of a good enough reason to reduce the number of injuries in your workplace, perhaps this new rule will light a fire.

Want to learn more about the new rule on electronic reporting of injury data to OSHA, as well as other information about OSHA injury reporting requrements? Sign up for this audio conference!…


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Computer Based Training (CBT) is NOT Bad For Your Safety Culture

Some authors and safety professionals would have you believe that using CBT for safety training will damage your organization’s safety culture.  These folks will tell you that CBT isolates workers and that it does not permit interaction like one would see in classroom training, and that it eliminates discussion and collaboration among employees.

First, I think it’s important that we understand what CBT is and what it is not. CBT is one of the tools we find in what is called Distance Learning (or also known as E-Learning).  Distance Learning uses other delivery formats as well, including instructor-led, web-delivered courses that can include a great deal of participant discussion and interaction. Even self-paced CBT or WBT can include a good deal of interaction and allow for discussion.  It’s all about how the training is designed. To use a blanket statement like “CBT is Bad For Your Safety Culture” does a great disservice to a tremendous learning tool and may steer employers away from something that can improve their safety culture, not destroy it.

When a training course is designed and developed properly, it will include the ability for participants to learn and share best practices and to get real questions answered about how the training can be applied in the workplace. CBT is only a lonely process when it is not developed properly or if it is meant to not include interaction between participants and between participants and instructor.

Some CBT courses are designed as performance support tools or to augment instructor-led classroom training before and/or after a live training event.  These types of CBT would not normally include ways for participants to interact with each other or the instructor (other than via an email link). CBT of this sort is designed to deliver the same type of information that might be delivered in a lecture format. But it is delivered at a much lower cost and with convenience for the participant. But it is not intended to be a stand-alone solution.

CBT was never meant to replace all classroom training. Some subjects require a significant amount of hands-on training and need to be delivered via classroom or lab training. But this does not mean that CBT can’t be effectively used to cover some of the details that would normally be covered in classroom lecture format.

Even OSHA sees the value in CBT to cover certain parts of a safety training course. When used judiciously, CBT can deliver lecture-type information before a student attends a classroom event and can also be used after the classroom course to reinforce learning. And when used with other Distance Learning tools, the training can be just as interactive with participants working together and asking questions as one might see in classroom training.

Proper use of CBT is a good decision for any organization. Designed properly, with good use of controls over testing and knowledge assessment, CBT is the right choice to augment your instructor-led classroom safety training courses.

Safety education occurs through use of policies, procedures, and manuals. It occurs in meetings, email notes, performance evaluations, casual conversations, and on-the-job demonstrations. There are lots of delivery methods we can and should use for safety training. CBT is one of them, and using it as part of the entire safety education program is not bad for your safety culture.


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Lesson #3: Assessment of Knowledge Transfer

How to Create E-Learning Courses

Lesson #3 – Assessment of Knowledge Transfer

By Michael D. Lawrence

January 10, 2013

 It’s easy to get confused about the purpose behind E-Learning. The reason to use E-Learning is not to reduce costs, but to get business results. It’s important to identify the business goal of your E-Learning program and realize that it is a business performance improvement tool, not just a training tool.

Effective E-Learning drives us toward measurable business goals: increasing product revenue reducing turnover, reducing rework, or increasing customer satisfaction ratings. Before we measure business results of this sort, however, we need to know if the E-Learning program itself is being used and if it is having an impact on people’s knowledge and behavior.

If you’ve ever created any type of training course, you’re probably already familiar with Kirkpatrick’s 4-level model of assessment:

  • Level 1: Reaction- Did they like it?Kirkpatrick
  • Level 2: Learning Did they learn it?
  • Level 3: Behavior Did they use it?.
  • Level 4: Results Did it impact the bottom line?

But many in the instructional design field might add to that another level:

  • Level 5: ROI – What is the Return on Investment?

Level 1

Level 1 is typically done through what is commonly called a “smile sheet”; a simple form completed at the end of the course. Kirkpatrick recommends the following guidelines to get maximum benefit from reaction sheets:

  1. Determine what you want to find out.
  2. Design a form that will quantify reactions.
  3. Encourage written comments and suggestions.
  4. Develop acceptable standards.
  5. Measure reactions against standards and take the appropriate action.
  6. Communicate reactions as appropriate.

Level 2

Level 2 is often accomplished with some sort of quiz or test, and that is another subject in itself, known as “psychometrics” – the science of writing effective test questions. Perhaps I’ll tackle that topic in another article in the future. Level 2 is usually where most assessment attempts end.

In Level 2 we are looking for:

  • What knowledge was learned.
  • What skills were developed or improved.
  • What attitudes were changed.

Some guidelines to consider:

  1. Use a Pre and Post Test to evaluate knowledge, skills, and/or attitudes.  A written test can be used to measure knowledge and attitudes and a performance test can measure skills.
  2. The results of Pre and Post tests can help us determine what changes we need to make to the course.

Level 3

For those that have the resources to go further, Level 3 is where we look at how the training is used on the job; the extent to which a change in behavior has occurred. Here are some guidelines for evaluating behavior:

  1. Allow time for a change in behavior to take place.
  2. Evaluate both before and after the training if possible.
  3. Survey or interview learners, their immediate supervisors, their subordinates and others who often observe their behavior.

Level 4

Even rarer is Level 4, where we look at how the training affected the business bottom line. This is where we want to see an increase in production, a decrease in time to complete the job, or maybe an increase in quality. Metrics of this sort are difficult, but they can be quantified.

Level 5

And the added step, Level 5 looks at the return on investment. Here we would look at how much the training cost (development, management, learner time, etc) and how much we got out of the training. This is tied very closely to Level 4 and in my experience it takes plenty of time and resources to measure at this level.

Transfer of Learning

Actually, since the transfer of learning happens throughout the learning cycle (development, implementation, follow-on training), it makes sense to me to evaluate the transfer of knowledge at various places in the cycle, not just after the training has ended. Perhaps we should evaluate before, during and after the training.


  • Create the training with objectives built around real-life tasks.
  • As much as feasible, make the training hands-on (simulations, exercises).
  • ·         Include performance support tools that learners can take with them and use on the job (checklists, references, spreadsheets, etc.).


  • Use case studies and scenarios that have learners select an appropriate response.
  • Give learners the chance to practice what they have learned (simulations).
  • Make sure you provide feedback and guidance throughout the training.
  • ·         Show learners how they can apply the training to real-life.


  • Check with learners after the training to find out what sort of challenges they face when applying the learning.
  • Use coaching to help learners overcome these roadblocks.
  • Speak with both learners and managers about how applicable the training is in the work environment.


Primarily, senior management’s main concern is the impact of the training – did what we spend on this really contribute to success of the business?

So, is all of this worth it? I certainly think it is.  We spend a lot of time and money on content and development; if we don’t measure results, we can’t know if we’re getting our money’s worth. And by measuring results, we can improve our training courses, deliver a higher ROI, and save money in as well.

Remember, E-Learning is not just a training tool: it’s a business performance improvement tool. If we look at it that way, our E-Learning will be cost-effective, powerful, and in line with the business.

We’ve looked at some traditional ways to measure the transfer of knowledge and we have barely scratched the surface.  In fact, when it comes to E-Learning, there are other assessment models besides the Kirkpatrick Model that look at things like Enrollment, Completion, and Test Scores. There is much to know in the area of knowledge assessment and here are some resources I recommend:

3 Simple Ways to Measure the Success of Your E-Learning

Start Measuring Your E-Learning Programs Now

Strategies for Measuring the Value of E-Learning

Here’s How to Measure ROI in the Real World

In the next lesson, we will look at Converting Instructor-Led Courses to E-Learning Format. In that lesson, we will discuss what an E-Learning course might look like and I’ll give you some tips I’ve picked up over the years about how to actually create an E-Learning course that works.

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Lesson #2: Introduction to Instructional Design

How to Create E-Learning Courses

Lesson #2 – Introduction to Instructional Design

By Michael D. Lawrence

January 8, 2013


There are several Instructional Design (ID) models in use today, but all share some similarities. We will be looking at two models:

  • the model known as ADDIEAssessment, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation,


  • the Dick and Carey Model (DCM).


Personally, I prefer to use a combination and blending of methods depending on the project at hand. By not being tied into just one model, I have found it possible to reduce the time to create an e-learning course by nearly one-half the average time.

Below is an overview of the ADDIE Model steps:


OK, let’s take a look at some of the steps in these two models. In ADDIE, the first step is to Analyze, while in the DCM the first step is to Identify Instructional Goals. I like to do a combination of both. I Analyze the needs based on input from whomever is requesting the course and then I dissect these needs to help develop the Instructional Goals and to Conduct Instructional Analysis. This Analysis also looks at where the target audience is right now and where we want them to be (Gap Analysis).

Next, we might move on to the Design phase (as in the ADDIE Model). Looking at the DCM, this might include Identifying Entry Behaviors (a sort of prerequisites or where the learner is now), and Writing Performance Objectives (what the participant should know or be able to do upon course completion).

In the ADDIE Model, the Design Phase produces a Design Document.  This document contains things like:

  • Learning objectives
  • Instructional strategies
  • Content outline
  • Practice activities
  • User interface
  • Media selection
  • Support materials

This document is the foundation for the entire course.

Now, this is where I think things get interesting. In the DCM, we develop our test questions before we develop the course materials (which would be in the Develop stage of ADDIE). To me, in some cases it does make sense to write the test questions according to the Performance Objectives first and then write the course material according to the test questions/Performance Objectives. For me, it just depends on the project. In some projects, I will develop the Performance Objectives, then write the course materials, and then create the text questions. This can really speed up the development process. But we have to be careful, because speeding things up can cause us to miss important considerations in the development process.

Learning Objectives

Development of the Learning Objectives (or Performance Objectives in the DCM) is one of the critical points in ID. The Learning Objectives:

  • Make clear what evidence of learning is required or how we will measure learning.
  • Are used to translate tasks into descriptions of observable and measurable behavior.
  • Set out what is to be learned.
  • Lead us to criterion-referenced tests and instruction that are developed based on the objectives and are designed to bring about the learning.

Objectives should be short, specific, and testable. You’ve probably seen the acronym SMART used in relation to objectives (Specific, Meaningful –or Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely).

Once the objectives and, if you choose to do so, the tests have been created, we can develop the overall Instructional Strategy to ensure the objectives are mastered (which are measured by the tests).  In both ADDIE and DCM, common Instructional Strategies include:

  • Introduction
  • Presentation of content
  • Interaction and feedback
  • Guided practice
  • Review and summary
  • Proficiency testing
  • Remediation
  • Content mastery

Learning objectives, which are specific and testable, might be written as finishing the sentence:

  • “After completing this course students will be able to:”
  • Match the sections of the system with their purpose.
  • Identify the steps required in preventative maintenance.
  • Given a set of equipment symptoms, select the appropriate solution.

Instructional Strategies

Instructional strategies should ensure that instruction meets these requirements:

  • Must Involve Active Learning
    • Learning is not a passive process where students just listen to a lecture, watch a demonstration, or read text.
    • Instead, the outcomes of the Design Phase are a set of job-relevant learning tasks that require active response.
  • Must be Job Relevant
  • If the goal is job performance improvement, the instruction must help students transfer learning to the job.
  • We do this by using situations that allow active practice of the specific job tasks and behaviors to be learned, similar to how they should be performed in the job setting.

In developing our Instructional Strategies, it’s important to think about how much learners tend to retain based on how the information is presented. Looking at the Learning Pyramid below, we can see that reading only results in 10% retention. Pretty poor results for my money! Make sure your Strategy includes a variety of methods in presenting information. The Learning Pyramid is something to keep in mind as we develop our Strategies.

Content Outline

It is the Learning objectives that determine the actual content of the program. After reviewing source materials and/or interviewing subject matter experts, a content outline is developed, which is a lesson-by-lesson breakdown of topics.

The content outline lays out a plan for the sequence of instruction. The order of information depends on the subject matter at hand but typically goes in sequence from:

  • beginning to end when process is being taught, and
  • from easy to hard when concepts are being taught.

Practice Activities

Practice and feedback are critical elements of effective instruction and should be planned carefully. We should consider not just what is available, but what is allowed by our information technology department. Sometimes technical specifications expand into the choice of development tools, including specific authoring systems, databases, or learning management systems (LMS).

The choice of media should also be justified from an instructional standpoint. Just because a computer can display video does not mean video has to be used. In fact, many designers with a video or instructor-led background use too much video. Audio narration with appropriate graphics and interactivity is a better choice than “talking head” video clips that are passively viewed.

Practice activities might include:

  • simple questioning (multiple choice, true/false, or fill-in), simulations,
  • instructional games,
  • on-the-job application exercises, or
  • situational analysis activities.

There are lots of tools available to develop interactions. Two I find useful are created by Articulate:  Engage and Storyline.

User Interface

The graphical user interface is the critical link between the learner and content. The Design Document should list the buttons and navigational features that will be available, what their labels or names will be, and where on the screen they will be located.

Some commonly used interface items are:

  • Next button, which advances to the next screen.
  • Back button, which moves back to the previous screen.
  • A screen counter to indicate progress through a lesson.
  • Menu button to jump directly to the Main Menu.
  • Exit button to exit the program.
  • Glossary to access an online glossary.
  • Help to access context-sensitive information, or navigational assistance.
  • Notepad for recording student notes.
  • Bookmark to tag the existing screen for future quick access.

Media Selection

Media are the means by which information is presented and experiences are shared. Media decisions can precede, follow, or accompany decisions about the instructional strategy to be employed. Consider

  • the stability of the content,
  • time available for development,
  • budget, and
  • type of learning to occur
  • skill development, knowledge, and attitude.

Support Materials

Support materials are non-instructional materials that the participant can take with them to use later…sort of a performance support tool. This can include charts, graphs, spreadsheets, presentations, or anything else that will help the participant to better understand the subject and help them recall the training at a later date.


Assessment of knowledge transfer will be covered in detail in the next article. But generally, there are four types of evaluation:

  • Level 1: Reaction of student – what they thought and felt about the training.
  • Level 2: Learning – resulting increase in knowledge or capability.
  • Level 3: Behavior – extent of behavior and capability improvement and implementation/application.
  • Level 4: Results – effects on business or environment resulting from learner performance.

The DCM lists two types of evaluation: Formative and Summative.

  • Formative evaluation: learner assessments, communication with learners, periodic evaluations.
  • Summative evaluation: analysis of formative assessments, examinations, surveys, interviews.

Any evaluation should be closely linked to the course objectives. We’ll discuss Assessment of Knowledge Transfer more in the next article

The Team

One last thing I want to cover in this lesson and that is the ID team. The type of project you are working on will determine who needs to be involved in creating an e-learning course. My experience has been that the more people on your team, the longer it will take to create the course. Team members might include:

  • Technical writer/Course Developer
  • Editor
  • Graphics designer/Illustrator/Animator
  • Web designer
  • Web programmer
  • Video author/integrator
  • Sound recorder/editor
  • Database designer/programmer
  • Project manager

What normally works for me is to keep the team as small as possible. The more skills that I have myself, the fewer people needed. Now, this is not easy. It means that as the Instructional Designer you need to learn the subject very well (almost to the level of a Subject Matter Expert), and know how to do things like graphics, web design, audio, and video. And you need to understand project management very well. The option is to have several team members.

Limiting the number of team members is one of the ways that I have been able to reduce course development time dramatically. But we have to be careful here. As the film character Dirty Harry said…”A man’s got to know his limitations”. Know what you can do, know what you can’t do, and know when to get help.

So, this has been a very brief introduction to instructional design. ID is both art and science and covers a huge field of knowledge and skill. It is impossible to cover everything in just one article, but I hope this overview helps you to build better e-learning courses. In Lesson #3, we will discuss Assessment of Knowledge Transfer.

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How to Create E-Learning Courses – Lesson #1: Adult Learning Theory

How to Create E-Learning Courses

By Michael D. Lawrence

January 7, 2013

Creating an E-Learning course requires some very specific skills and knowledge, but those skills and knowledge are available to everyone, not just professional instructional designers. Now, that’s not to say that you can learn from just one article how to create the best-in-class of courses, but you can learn fairly quickly how to do the basics. And that is the best place to start: with the basics.

I’m approaching this for those that not only have not created E-Learning courses, but have little or no experience in creating training courses for delivery in any format. There is much to cover, so I will do this by presenting material over a series of articles. The subjects to be covered in this series are:

1)    Adult Learning Theory

2)    Introduction to Instructional Design

3)    Assessment of Knowledge Transfer

4)    Basics of E-Learning Courses

5)    Converting Instructor-Led Courses to E-Learning Format

6)    Creating Your First E-Learning Course

Before we go any further, we need to think about some of the basic qualities that an instructional designer should have to be successful in course development. The successful instructional designer should:

  1. Understand how people learn.
  2. Know how to connect with the learner on an emotional level.
  3. Be capable of seeing oneself as the learner.
  4. Be obsessed with learning everything.
  5. Brainstorm creative treatments and innovative instructional strategies.
  6. Visualize the graphics, user interface, and interactions that will be used, as well as the finished product.
  7. Write effective copy, instructional text, and audio/video scripts.
  8. Work well with Subject Matter Experts and team members.
  9. Know the capabilities of eLearning development tools and software.
  10. Understand related fields, such as IT, communications, and new technologies.

That’s a tall order, but having the above qualities will serve you well as you develop E-Learning courses that really work.

So let’s go ahead and get started with lesson #1.

Lesson #1: Adult Learning Theory

Adult learning theory is rooted in the behavioral sciences that began developing in the 1960’s and is heavily influenced by the many new things that were being learned about human psychology at that time. And of course we learn more and more every day about how we learn.

Some of the Adult Learning Theory is geared more towards face-to-face instruction, but many principles can be applied to eLearning efforts.   Rather than dig into the many details involved in how adults learn, I will just cover some of the basics of adult learning theory that will be the most valuable for the new E-Learning course designer. So just what do we know about how adults learn?

Adults tend to prefer single concept, single-theory courses that focus heavily on how to solve problems. This tendency increases with age. Regardless of delivery format, using to-the-point, how-to-do-it content is the best way to ensure adults learn.

Most adult learning theories have been based on the work of Malcolm Knowles, who theorized that adult learners have distinct and unique characteristics. He introduced the term andragogy to describe the science of how adults learn. “Andragogical” are learner-centered methods, whereas “pedagogical” (how children learn) use teacher-centered methods.

The Andragogical (Adult Learning) Model

  • Adults are autonomous and self-directed.
  • Adults are goal-oriented; they usually know what goal they want to attain.
  • Adults need to see a reason for learning something.
  • Adults have a foundation of life experiences and knowledge that may include work-related activities, family responsibilities, and previous education.
  • Adults tend to focus on the parts of a lesson that is most useful to them.
  • Adults typically are internally motivated to learn and normally do not require external motivation.
  • Adults must be able to engage in self-reflection after completing a learning experience and before practicing on their own.
  • Adults must be actively involved in their learning, not just passively listening.
  • Adults must receive regular feedback and positive reinforcement on their progress.
  • Adults need to be shown respect for their wealth of experiences.

It is important to consider each of the above as we develop our E-Learning courses. Can we be successful if we miss some of these points? Certainly, but the more of these we include the greater the chance of the adults learning the material presented.

In Lesson #2, we will cover an Introduction to Instructional Design and learn how proper design is one of the critical cogs in the machinery of an effective E-Learning course.


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