Before the coronavirus outbreak, the global online education market was projected to witness an almost 10% growth by 2025. Needless to say, the pandemic generated a worldwide boom not only in remote work but also the adoption of online training and webinars across the planet.
Janet Cecchettini, Senior Manager of Education at Acuity Brands®, joined Catherine Bruce on the Bright Ideas Series to discuss how the company has adapted their training and education programs in the wake of social distancing.
IS THERE A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN EDUCATION AND TRAINING?
While the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, training tends to be more specifically related to an assigned task of some kind. Training is a job aid, teaching somebody how to complete a particular undertaking– and it’s highly popular in the workforce. In fact, LinkedIn’s 2019 Workforce Learning Report says 94% of employees would stay longer at a company if it invested in their development.
“Education,” on the other hand, is more of a broad term. It refers to providing foundational knowledge or information that will allow people to think for themselves and make decisions regarding a particular topic or area of their life.
While it’s very clear the complicated challenges facing schools and universities who have had to migrate many of their classes online for the rest of 2020, not all businesses have connected the dots when it comes to digitizing their own employee training or customer education assets.
Virtual training is already a growing trend among B2B companies and, in the wake of the pandemic, is going to become more expected by buyers and employees alike. The lighting industry, with its complex route to market and many influencers involved in deciding to purchase, is no exception to this transformation.
DOES YOUR CURRICULUM CATER TO ALL DIFFERENT INFLUENCERS ALONG YOUR BUYERS’ JOURNEY?
Buyers are growing more and more used to having instant information of all kinds at their fingertips– and that expectation no longer ends when they turn their attention to business matters. In Janet’s experience, if you offer training or education in your business, then it’s best to think about each influencer, customer, and user from their perspective. What’s in it for them?
Many individuals in those roles are now working much more closely together than in the past. For example, AutoCAD drawings used to be separated into different layers for each person– whereas now, today’s BIM models are more collaborative between all trades.
Because so many people from different walks of life are involved in decision-making, Janet pointed out, it’s important to make sure that everybody is using the same terminology. It’s also a good idea for each of them to understand a little bit of what their peers do as well.
When it comes to training and education programs offered by Acuity Brands, the curriculum extends beyond just company products. For example, a particular technology in Acuity Brands is referred to as tunable white. However, other manufacturers may call that dynamic white. It’s important for those in the programs to learn how the terms are synonymous, as well as the specific technology they’re referring to.
IS YOUR CURRICULUM OFFERED IN MULTIPLE FORMS FOR DIFFERENT LEARNING STYLES?
Another driving force behind the tactics used by Acuity Brands in their education and training is the knowledge that there are multiple learning styles. Some people learn visually by observing; some by hearing information; and some by performing tasks tangibly for themselves. However, learning methodologies actually extend beyond just those three categories.
Different people also choose to allot different amounts of time to their learning experience. Some can afford to take things slowly. Some are in a rush. Some learners desire a wellspring of all relevant information that they can consume thoroughly in its entirety, so they will have the expertise they need if a dilemma ever arises. On the other hand, some learners want just-in-time information to answer a quandary that has already arisen.
Either way, when an individual comes up against a challenge, they may very well turn to their mobile device to find a trustworthy and reliable source of expertise and information.
Acuity Brands offers a learning system where learners can search for particular topics or products that they want to learn about– but they also know that the written word isn’t the sole way to provide that information. “Sometimes the best answer might be a YouTube video,” Janet admitted in her interview. A two-minute video can concisely provide an answer to what someone might be looking for.
Images and videos are particularly important in the lighting industry, because lighting is a highly visual experience. That’s why Acuity Brands offers instructor-led training in their facilities as well; when possible, lighting is important for learners to see in-person.
Companies looking to develop their own training offerings can visit acuitybrands.com/academy; and next week’s episode of Bright Ideas by Acuity Brands is going to dive deeper in how to improve employee educational programs.
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