Training Methods for Learning New Software

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Introduction

Taking into consideration the fact that new employees are required to use the new customized version of the mapping software ESRI ArcGIS, the need for training needs cannot be emphasised. A big number of employees and their high rate of turnover are using the following training methods: lecture method, discussion method, computer-assisted instruction, simulations, job-instruction technique, coaching, etc. (Decker et al, 1985).

Discussion

At this point we shall look at each of the training methods mentioned above and also compare the suitability of each.

Lecture method

The lecture method can be best implemented to create a general understanding of the topic which in this case is a customized version of the mapping software ESRI ArcGIS (Welsh et al, 2003). The lecture format can be varied in order to make it either a more or less formal/ interactive. A good lecture should start with an introduction which highlights the topics that will be covered and also lays the ground rules for interruptions for persons who need something clarified. It is then followed by the main body. A good lecture concludes with a summary of the main points.

In our case, because of the reason that most of the employees lack previous knowledge of the software, they should observe, listen and even take notes where necessary. Lecture method is very useful where a limited amount of information has to be passed to a large group of people. In our case we can also put the information we need employees to acquire in order to enable them learn factual information about the software better.

Discussion method

In this method, two way communications between the person lecturing and the trainee is employed. A short lecture lasting about 20 minutes is given by the lecturer after which discussions among the trainees follow (Rothwell et al, 2004).  The lecturer can judge from verbal and non-verbal feedback whether training has taken place. Questions among both the trainer and the trainee keep trainees focussed on the subject matter.

Some similarity exists between the lecture and the discussion method. As compared to the lecture method, the discussion method is more effective for learning because of the elements of discussions and questions. It would thus be more effective in getting new employees to learn about the customized version of the mapping software ESRI ArcGIS.

Computer-assisted instruction

 It is fast becoming a popular method, which basically involves programed instruction. It is a self-taught, self-passed learning system usually using computers which eliminate the need for a trainer (Goldstein et al, 2002). Information is presented to trainees in a written form or by computer programs through a series of self-paced steps.

Computer –assisted training has an advantage over other methods of training, in that training is individualised and trainees progress at their own speed and receive feedback immediately (Kleiman, Lawrence, 2000). It is also cost effective as the main costs involved are only those of buying computers and software. If we used it, it would provide an advantage to us as a trainees query about how the customized version of the mapping software ESRI ArcGIS would be answered immediately without any form of embarrassment.

Coaching-Supervisor Instructing employees

This is the process of one on one instruction and guidance to improve the work performance of a person in a given area (Blanchard et al, 2003). The main difference with other methods of training is that the trainee in this case has been working on the job for some time. The coach in this case is mostly the supervisor. However, he must be skilled both in how to do the tasks and how to show them to others.

The coaching method of training has the advantage that a trainee receives immediate feedback about an issue. However, as compared to other methods of training, it has some disadvantages. Firstly, it is very time consuming, as only one person can be coached at a time. Secondly, it is very costly to the organisation as the supervisor is not able to monitor other activities taking place in the organisation (Noe, et al, 2000). This would thereby make it hard to train employees on customized version of the mapping software ESRI ArcGIS using the coaching method.

Job Instruction Technique (JIT)

Job instruction technique focusses on skill development (Beer, 2000). It also has some procedural knowledge and factual objectives. It entails 4 steps i.e. prepare the presentation,, trial and follow up.

Preparation involves preparing a written breakdown of the work. This helps the trainer see the job through the eyes of the trainee. Secondly, there is presentation. This step involves explaining, showing and telling the trainee how the software works. Thirdly, there is trial (Noe, 1999). At this stage trainees can try out if they are able to actually use the software. Fourthly, there is follow up. This stage involves monitoring how well the new employees are able to use the software.

As compared to other forms of training, it is more intensive and thereby can be used for more complex part of training employees on the customized version of the mapping software ESRI ArcGIS.

Conclusion

A combination of a number of methods can be used when training employees on the customized version of the mapping software ESRI ArcGIS. No one method in isolation can be termed as the best, but a combination of methods can be used to effectively train them. Selected methods should be based on factors, such as the level of employees’ education, time available for training among other considerations.

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