WHITEPAPER: Have Learning Styles In Training And Development Adapted In The COVID Age?
With the ever-evolving worldwide situation that has been caused by COVID, it’s an important time to reflect on where we are as an industry. It’s also a good time to ascertain where project managers (both aspiring and practicing) are in their thought process, and the challenges they might be facing in their project management journey.
We recently undertook a research project of over 2,000 respondents in the project management industry, asking them how COVID had impacted their learning styles in training and development? Everything from whether the pandemic inspired them or deterred them from taking a project management course to exploring their attitudes towards online learning.
The results, which we’ve outlined below, were insightful, offering a lot of food for thought and highlighting why it is more important than ever to keep up with industry changes, particularly in these uncertain times.
We hope you find these results and insights useful, and we hope that you will be encouraged to continue your training and development – we are always here to help!
Question 1: From a COVID perspective would you feel safe in an in-person training environment?
Firstly, we asked our respondents if they would feel safe in an in-person training environment. After a prolonged period of global restrictions, lockdowns, and a significant shift to online learning in the interests of preventing the spread of COVID, we were interested to see how people felt when it came to the subject of in-person learning.
Almost two thirds of the 1,910 respondents said they would feel safe learning face-to-face with their peers.
This statistic shows that an appetite for learning in a public space still exists, most likely thanks to an increase in vaccination numbers and a greater understanding of the nature of COVID. Nevertheless, this will lead to training providers diversifying their offerings by utilising the emerging technology to cater for new learning styles.
Conversely, a sizable 34.5% of respondents remained uncomfortable with the concept of in-person training. Therefore, it is essential that we continue to develop online learning as a core part of our offering, as we believe that the considerable demand for this flexible style of learning will continue long after the pandemic has ended.
The provision of online project management training courses, much like the introduction of widespread hybrid working, were expedited during the pandemic. Aspiring project managers and current practitioners alike have responded well to this online offering, as the flexibility of self-paced online learning has given learners greater control over their course and their ability to fit learning into their lives.
Despite the volatility of the situation, at Training Bytesize we provided a strong response to ensure that people could continue to benefit from training of the highest quality. For instance, to assist with productivity during the unanticipated lockdowns, we offered a free foundation online course every time you bought one online course and exam. For the younger demographic looking to gain industry knowledge and skills, we also introduced free online project management training courses for everyone with a valid student ID, attracting that oft-elusive 18-24 demographic.
It wasn’t long before the Association for Project Management launched their APM PMQ exam for online users in April 2020, with Training ByteSize being one of the first training providers to supply this option to our learners.
Both virtual and blended learning are exciting propositions in the project management industry, and we’ve continued to stay at the forefront of implementing new technology.
Question 2: Has the pandemic prevented or deterred you from undertaking a training course?
From 1,538 respondents, we have seen a strong indication that the pandemic hasn’t dissuaded nearly two thirds of individuals from undertaking a project management course in the last 18 months. This is another insightful statistic to come out of the poll. It suggests that the transition to online project management training has been seamless and approachable for many learners. This also shows that, despite recurring lockdowns and subsequent employment instability a majority of people have not been deterred from taking the opportunity to increase their knowledge and develop their project management skills.
Of course, as training providers we must look at how we can re-engage and encourage the 36.3% of people that have put off undertaking a course. From emphasising our strict COVID protocols for in-person training (in the form of our 10-point plan for covid security) to promoting our flexible online and virtual course offerings, we are eager to raise any barriers to quality training that the pandemic has put in place, such as isolation, home-schooling, or intermittent furlough.
Question 3: Has the pandemic encouraged you to undertake a training course?
The response we received to this question is a compelling one. Clearly there have been some testing times, with financial futures very much up in the air for many people. Therefore, it is unsurprising to see that a project management course was perhaps not ‘front of mind’ for a lot of people.
While only 15% of our respondents said that the pandemic did encourage them to undertake a training course, we predict this figure will rise moving forward. As highlighted in this article from McKinsey and Company, often when we encounter ‘crises’ in our careers, we take stock and self-assess so that we understand how we can improve. As the pandemic has continued on into a new year and we prepare ourselves for the new normal and what that may look like, an increase in demand for online training courses in the near future would not at all be unexpected.
Question 4: When learning, how best do you retain information?
This question is one we suspected might be closely fought, and indeed it was! We asked our respondents exactly what their preferred learning styles in training and development are, between listening and reading. This was a particularly relevant question, when considering just how varied interactive online training courses can be. As an online learner, the opportunity to learn at your own pace, and the way that is best suited to your lifestyle and development, is unprecedented. But it also means that as training organisations, we must continue to be aware of not only of different learning styles, but also the media involved when writing course materials. This is part of a greater effort to make the most engaging course materials possible to aid retention and not fall foul of the effects of so-called “Zoom Fatigue”, the prevalence of which has skyrocketed during the pandemic as a result of rapid (but necessary) digital transformation for the sake of safety.
The age-old debate of ‘listening vs reading’ – whether in project management training or otherwise – continues to spark fascinating debate. The level of interactivity in our online courses is of paramount importance to us. Having reviewed our hybrid learning materials regularly during this time, we know that a variety of media equates to a more engaged, and ultimately successful, learning group.
Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences suggests that we are not born with all of the intelligence that we will ever possess. To summarise, in order to capture the full range of abilities and talents that people possess, Gardner theorizes that people do not have just an intellectual capacity, but have many kinds of intelligence, including musical, interpersonal, spatial-visual, and linguistic intelligences.
This further enhances our belief that providing a variety of activities on our virtual courses speaks to all of our students, allowing them to approach the subject from a variety of different perspectives.
Training ByteSize offers full interactivity for our courses, including voiceovers and animations, videos, and extensive mock exam simulators that can be accessed from anywhere in the world at any time. These make our courses as engaging as possible for our learners, as our tools enable and empower them to learn in the ways and at the times that suit them best.
One of the biggest questions we’ve asked ourselves when reviewing our project management training course offering in the current climate is ‘Is there enough content here to satisfy a multitude of learning styles?’ and are our course modules diverse and inclusive enough to give everyone their desired level of engagement, without leaving anyone at a disadvantage?
Question 5: Which method of learning do you prefer?
This was intriguing, given that many have at least experienced working from home, if not undertaken some sort of training from home, over the last 18 months. With over a quarter of respondents displaying a preference for online learning, we can say confidently that online learning will continue to grow to the extent that it will become a core method of training delivery.
It does however highlight that even with the flexibility of online learning, many still relish the opportunity to be part of an in-person learning environment. As a project management training provider, in-person learning has historically been at the heart of our and we don’t see a permanent shift away from this style over the long term.
While this in-person learning continues to be a core area, the pandemic has undoubtedly raised questions about the way that we work. We continue to see a multitude of advancements in technology, such as VR and the introduction of the metaverse, which will continue to spark innovation and open up opportunities for approved training providers. Other virtual training tools and apps (such as Kahoot and Google Classroom) will undoubtedly continue to grow in prominence. Our expert trainers have stayed at the forefront of these industry developments and have fully adapted to this new way of working.
To summarise, the delivery methods of training and development have adapted over the past 18 months, moving decisively toward a more flexible and independent model, which has led us to ask how this has influenced a learners’ preferred learning methods. One underlying theme to this research has been the undoubted perseverance and stability of the project management training industry during such a tumultuous period.
As a result, learning providers must continue to cater for the multitude of learning preferences and styles in order to better serve the next generation of project managers. With 64% of project managers saying that the biggest challenge to the industry is the coronavirus and its ongoing impact (APM Salary and Market Trends Survey 2021: Future Trends), we at Training ByteSize will continue listening and adapting so that we always offer high quality, flexible project management training that suits you, the learner.
Staying abreast of the industry developments and delivering these insights has allowed us to stay connected to learners and find out more about people’s educational experiences, even in what has been a confusing time for all of us to navigate. Speaking to our respondents and getting a high level of insight has proven that learning providers need to keep their finger on the pulse
That is at the heart of what we do at Training ByteSize.
We are here to help you to develop as a project professional, and we will support you on every step of your journey with expert advice and fully accredited qualifications that will help you to grow, no matter where you are. Our pass rates are exceptional, and our team of learning advisors is ready to get you started!
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