The Right Approach to Team Training
Watching a training video can be an effective way for an individual developer to explore new concepts. That said, in-person training remains the optimal way for businesses to uniformly upskill a team of multiple developers. This is because face-to-face learning inherently fosters collaboration, immersion, and personal connection — three essential ingredients for team success.
To create flawless applications in enterprise settings, developers must learn to code well with others. The collaborative nature of in-person training makes it a tremendous way to boost team performance. It can also enable newly hired employees to become effective team members. This is achieved when instructors push your workforce to think, solve problems, and develop innovative applications — together. In addition, training exercises can be infused with real-life work problems, helping developers learn to partner on solutions to actual business challenges.
About 80 percent of developers who engaged in face-to-facing training said it effectively delivered new skills, according to a recent study.1 This makes sense, as this format pushes employees to apply new skills on the fly, unlike education programs that simply show them how to code. Just as importantly, in-person learning can be designed to mirror the rigor and feel of an actual production environment. This can result in deeper, immersive learning that bridges the gap between what is taught and what employees experience on the job.
Effective in-person learning lets employees share an experience rooted in mutual growth. Through collaborative interactions, employees can invest more in one another’s success. This helps your employees make personal connections during face-to-face training. As a result, your employees may feel more supported, which could remove barriers to learning and retaining skills.
Warning Signs of Ineffective In-Person Training
Warning Sign 1: Monotonous Lectures
Instructors shouldn’t maroon themselves to a whiteboard and describe programming to your employees. Nevertheless, some instructors have been trained to believe that lectures are the most effective approach to delivering technical skills. But true skills development requires employees to immerse themselves in a new technology, said Alan Galloway, director of curriculum and instruction at The Software Guild.
“Showing programming concepts to developers isn’t the way to help them gain a new skill,” Galloway said. “They need hands-on experience to learn nitty-gritty coding demands and how challenges can change on the fly.”
In other words, your employees should learn software development by actually developing software, not listening to an instructor describe the skills that the job requires.
Warning Sign 2: Barriers Between Instructors and Trainees
When instructors stand before a class, a “me” vs. “you” dynamic can form between them and the people they are training. Seated, your employees behave more like an audience, not active participants, which can lead to training fatigue instead of engagement with course materials.
Well-rounded instruction features not only collaboration between employees, but with the instructor, too. By stepping away from the whiteboard, instructors can interact with employees as mentors and develop a stronger rapport. They also become more engaged in helping employees overcome challenges.
“While group activities should dominate time in class, that doesn’t mean instructors get more time to take a break,” Galloway said. “In reality, instructors of active learning classes should collaborate alongside your employees and be ever ready to provide support.”
Warning Sign 3: Cookie-Cutter Exercises
While firsthand knowledge of technology is essential for gaining programming skills, its value may be reduced when canned exercises are used. By “canned exercises,” we’re referring to generic coding activities that don’t relate to work your team actually performs. For example, a module that involves manipulating zoo animals may be helpful for teaching basic coding concepts, but if developers need to learn to build an e-commerce website, exercises featuring project-specific elements may be more impactful. After all, training should focus on what your developers need to learn to contribute to your business, not coding in the abstract.
In addition, cookie-cutter exercises may not account for the diverse education needs that your employees have. By taking a one-size-fits-all approach to learning modules, junior developers may fail to acquire skills and senior associates may not glean benefits.
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1Develop Intelligence. (2017). Developer learning survey report [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.developintelligence.com/blog/2017-developer-learning-survey-report-final/
2Bana. S. (n.d.). Face-to-face training is still the better choice over digital lessons. TD Magazine. Retrieved from https://www.td.org/magazines/td-magazine/face-to-face-training-is-still-the-better-choice-over-digital-lessons