Developing Learning Activities
Learn by Doing!
Once the objectives for the training are precisely stated, then learning activities can be identified and described. Remember, when OSHA uses the terms "demonstrate" in their standards, the intent is that employees must be able to prove they can do something by actually doing it in the learning environment.
This means you'll need to include a "hands-on" learning activity to show employees how to do things. It also means you'll need to give them a chance to practice the procedure or task they're learning. Makes sense, doesn't it?
Learning activities are important for a number of reasons:
- They enable employees to demonstrate that they have acquired the desired skills and knowledge
- They help ensure that employees effectively transfer the skills or knowledge from the training session to the job
- They help make training more interesting, increase motivation to learn
Simulate the Job
To ensure employees transfer the adequate knowledge and skills from the learning activity to the job, the learning situation should simulate the actual job as closely as possible.
You may want to arrange the objectives and activities in a sequence which corresponds to the order in which the tasks are to be performed on the job, if a specific process is to be learned. For instance, if an employee must learn the beginning processes of using a machine, the sequence might be:
- Check that the power source is connected.
- Ensure the safety devices are in place and are operative.
- Know when and how to throw the switch; and so on.
A few factors will help to determine the type of learning activity to be incorporated into the training. You may want to ask some very important questions to determine what type of learning activity will best meet your objectives:
- Will the employer make necessary training resources available.
- Can a group training program that uses an outside trainer and film be organized
- Should the employer personally train the employees on a one-to-one basis?
- Is the learning oriented toward physical skills (such as the use of special tools) or toward mental processes and attitudes?
These factors, and others will influence the type of learning activity designed by employers. The training activity may be group-oriented, including lectures, role-play and demonstrations; or designed for the individual as with self-paced instruction.
The determination of methods and materials for the learning activity can be as varied as your imagination and available resources will allow. You may want to use charts, diagrams, manuals, slides, films, viewgraphs (overhead transparencies), videotapes, audiotapes, or simply blackboard and chalk, or any combination of these and
other instructional aids.
Whatever the method of instruction, learning activities should be developed in such a way that the employees can clearly demonstrate that they have acquired the desired knowledge and skills.
Training Presentation Strategies
You now know basically what subjects you're going to present, but which presentation strategy is going to work best for you? Let's take a look at several alternatives:
- Formal classroom training: In many cases, formal training in-house or from an external source can get learners trained quickly when needed. Classroom training is best if the class is composed of students from different departments or facilities. Here's a simple Classroom Training Model.
- On-the-job training (OJT): OJT is considered the best overall training strategy since most safety training requires that employees demonstrate (prove) adequate knowledge and skill to perform procedures and practices. Remember, employees must be trained before exposed! Conducting a simulated procedure or task in the learning environment is really the only way you can certify adequate knowledge and skills to perform hazardous tasks without exposure the employee to actual hazards. Here's a Safe OJT Training Model
- Mini training sessions: This method is perhaps the best method to keep employees up on the latest changes to OSHA standards and changes in company policy, procedures, and rules. Mini training sessions, tail-gate meetings, and safety meetings can be as short as five minutes or up to 30 minutes.
- Computer based training (CBT): This is growing in popularity because employees can fit short training sessions on the computer into their busy schedules at work or at home. To meet the intent of OSHA law, CBT needs to include opportunities for interaction with a qualified trainer (like OSHA online training). Note: Be careful not to rely solely on CBT when training procedures and practices that are hazardous. CBT will not be adequate. Make sure opportunities for communicating via email, video-conference, or on-site interaction is incorporated into any CBT strategy. More on this subject.
Important Training Requirements
No matter the training strategy used, it's important to make sure employees get practice before they are actually exposed to hazards in the work environment. Some of the key requirements are stated or implied in OSHA rules. Three of the most important are:
- Demonstration: Workers should be able to demonstrate that they have both the knowledge and ability to perform a hazardous task or procedure safely before they are allowed to begin work.
- Retraining: Any time the employer believes a worker lacks adequate knowledge or ability to perform a task safely, that worker should receive retraining to improve their proficiency.
- Certification: Employees who must perform a hazardous task or procedure should be certified as "qualified" by the employer. In most instances an attendance roster, by itself, will not be considered adequate documentation for most safety training. Ultimately, the employer is responsible for certification. It's also important to realize that OSHA does not "certify" anyone qualified to do anything... they just don't do it.
Sequencing the Training
Sequencing training content and material is almost as important as the content itself. And, it can defeat the purpose of a training program if it is not carefully thought out. Trainers should be concerned about the logical sequencing of training, because if the lesson does not unfold in a building, reinforcing way, learning may be less effective. Consider the following basic sequencing strategies:
- General to the specific: Move gradually to the many and varied specific on-the-job applications of the concepts discussed. For instance, all of these topics may be effectively taught using this strategy:
Simple to the complex: The design begins with a fairly simple conceptual overview of the subject to be learned. In our lockout/tagout training, we might talk about how to "lock out" a coffee maker before covering lockout procedures for a more complicated machine. As an example, all of these topics may be effectively taught using this strategy:
- characteristics of chemicals
- identifying hazards
Theory to practical application: You might introduce learners about general energy sources before covering more specific sources of energy expected while conducting lockout/tagout procedures. All of these topics are among those that may be effectively taught using this strategy:
- analyzing incidents and accidents
- machine guarding techniques
- safety management strategies
- employing engineering controls
Known to unknown concepts, ideas, or processes. For instance, we all know machinery requires some form of energy to work, but in many instances, we may not realize that multiple energy sources involved. Once again, these topics, and many others, may be effectively taught using this strategy:
Step by Step: For On-the-Job Training (OJT), sequence the content so that it corresponds to the steps of the task. Of course, when we train lockout/tagout procedures or how to use hazardous chemicals, it's very important to perform all steps correctly in their proper order.
- analyzing incidents and accidents
- machine guarding techniques
Training Methods and Media
Hands-on training is usually quite effective in training because it uses a simulated work environment that permits each student to have experience performing tasks, making decisions, or using equipment appropriate to the job assignment before they are exposed to actual workplace hazards.
To ensure that employees transfer the skills or knowledge from the learning activity to the job, the learning situation should simulate the actual job as closely as possible.
Determining methods and materials for learning activities can be as varied as your imagination and available resources will allow. You may want to think about using:
||dry erase boards
Whatever the method of instruction, learning activities should be developed in such a way that you can clearly demonstrate learners have acquired the desired skills or knowledge.
Tips on Preparing Visual Aids
- Start with at least a rough outline of the goal and major points of the presentation before selecting the visual aid(s). For example, a particular scene or slides may trigger ideas for the presentation, providing the power of images. Do not proceed too far without first determining what you want to accomplish, what your audience wants to gain, and what the physical setting requires.
- Each element of an audio-visual product - a single slide or a page of a flip chart presentation, for example, - must be simple and contain only one message. Placing more than one message on a single image confuses the audience and diminishes the potential impact of visual media. Keep visual aids BRIEF.
- Determine the difference between what you will say and what the visual aid will show. Do not read straight from your visuals.
- Ask the audience to read or listen, not both; visual aids should not provide reading material while you talk. Rather, use them to illustrate or highlight your points.
- Give participants paper copies of various graphic aids used in your presentation. They will be able to write on the paper copies and have them for future reference.
- Assess your cost constraints. For example, instead of purchasing photos and diagrams to use in your presentation perhaps you can use your own photos and diagrams.
- Account for production time in your planning and selection process. Slides must be developed, video edited - you do not want to back yourself against a wall because the visuals are not ready. You can often get production work done in 24-48 hours, but it is much more expensive than work that is done on an extended schedule.
- Use local photographs and examples when discussing general problems and issues. While a general problem concerning welding safety, for example, may elude someone, illustrating with a system in use at the site can bring the issue home.
- Use charts and graphs to support the presentation of numerical information.
- Develop sketches and drawings to convey various designs and plans.
- When preparing graphics, make sure they are not too crowded in detail. Do no over-use color. See that line detail, letters, and symbols are bold enough to be seen from the back of the room.
- Do not use visual aids for persuasive statements, qualifying remarks, emotional appeals, or any type of rhetorical statement.
- If you have handouts, don't let them become a distraction during the presentation. They should provide reinforcement following your address. Consider giving them out after the presentation, unless the audience will use them during the presentation or will need to review them in advance of the presentation.
- Practice presenting the full program using graphic materials so you are familiar with their use and order. If you use audio-visual materials, practice working with them and the equipment to get the timing down right.
- Seek feedback on the clarity of your visuals and do so early enough to allow yourself time to make needed adjustments.
Sample Lesson Plan
Developing Training Materials
If a number of trainers are expected to present the training, you may want to prepare a lesson plan and trainer's guide that bring all aspects of the training course into a readily usable form. The trainer's guide would include a course outline for each instructional block and a program of instruction for the entire course. Be sure to include reference materials and a list of additional resources that might be useful in presenting the course.
Click on the image for a sample lesson plan for one module for a course in Personal Protective Equipment.
You can find many more examples of training materials on the OSHAcademy Training Resources page.
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