Describe traditional training methods computer-based training methods and e-learning

Describe traditional training methods computer-based training methods and e-learning.

Upon completion of this unit, students should be able to:

  1. Describe traditional training methods, computer-based training methods, and e-learning, including appropriate uses for each.



Training Design and Development

Abernathy, D. J. (1999). Thinking outside the evaluation box. Training & Development53(2), 18-20.

Beck, N., & Kieser, A. (2003). The complexity of rule systems, experience and organizational learning. Organization Studies24(5), 793-814.

Ketter, P. (2010). Evidence-based training methods: Toward a professional level of practice. T+D64(4), 54-58.

Price, J. F., Jr. (2013). Strategic distraction: The consequence of neglecting organizational design. Air & Space Power Journal – Africa and Francophonie4(4), 48-56.

Wagner, C. G. (1991). The fifth discipline: The art and practice of the learning organization. The Futurist25(5), 41.

Unit Lesson

There are numerous methods for training, and each organization must choose the one that works best for them. As you read about the training methods, consider how you could implement them. What makes them effective or possibly ineffective?

Consider this statement: If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it. We know that is not always true, but how does one know if the process does improve? The importance of the training and development process can only be shown through educating the organization on the concept of the learning organization and being able to measure that impact. Peter Senge (1990), in his book The Fifth Discipline, discusses the characteristics of a learning organization. The learning organization is a systems-based process in which the organization can better adapt to changes in its environment. A learning organization can provide a quick response to experiential lessons by changing organizational behavior. In a learning organization, change is embraced, and there is more toleration of risk where failure and blame turn into opportunities to learn. For example, all employers are in a global marketplace where change comes quickly, and the organization must be willing to adapt to those changes to survive.

The learning organization is different from organizational learning. This is where learning occurs on different levels in the organization. In most organizations, learning occurs on three levels: individual, team, and organizational learning. Individual learning may occur through self-study courses or online courses. Team learning can occur by acquiring new skills and knowledge for the team, such as how to brainstorm orproblem-solve as a team. Organizational learning is at a much higher level and includes teamwork in addition to learning the changes in policies or strategies.

Consider that you are a manager of a medium-sized office, and you will be implementing a new policy that will require employees to learn a new skill. This is a positive move because it will give the employees more experience and skills that are valuable in the industry. What is an effective way of handling this? In a learning organization, you would utilize both individual and group training. For example, maybe you allow time during the workday for continuing education courses, hold meetings where employees can share their ideas for using these new skills, and provide training sessions for using any new software or policies. Notice how the employees have a large role in these changes. This involvement makes employees feel valued, which aids in the effectiveness.

Starbucks is a company that has moved towards a learning organization approach utilizing many styles of learning. Starbucks has expanded immensely over the last couple of decades, and as a result, has had to re-think their training processes. For example, Christine McHugh, who handles global learning for Starbucks, explained during her conversation with Glenn Kelman that Starbucks is finding that many in the millennial generation prefer hands-on training as opposed to instructor-led training (McHugh as cited in Kelman, 2010). Starbucks has moved away from having designated trainers and has the leaders act as coaches because they believe that when everyone has the same hands-on experience, they are more likely to be positively affected by it (Kelman, 2010, para. 8).

One of the successful pathways for training design and development is through adult learning. Adult learning is a relationship with the attributes of the individual and the experiences in the environment. For example, as people mature, their self-concept changes. They change from being dependent personalities toward being more self-directed individuals. They also accumulate a wealth of experiences that increases their ability to learn. Taking into consideration adult learners, developmental activities should prepare the individuals for future responsibilities while increasing the employees’ capacity in performing their current job. The design of a training process should then include the decision on course content, delivery methods, and goals (Covey, 1989). Covey (1989) even suggests that we start with the final goals in mind. The training process design should include a rough sketch of the final program. For example, adult learners can acquire new information while building upon existing knowledge if they are asked to research a topic on their own.

Many organizations are having success with evidence-based training methods. Evidence-based learning does just that; it involves using practices that are based on reliable evidence, producing quality results. For organizations to be more successful, they must find the most effective approach to the transfer of knowledge. Evidence-based learning uses scientific evidence, such as determining performance metrics, which is very important to the success of an employee on the job. For example, in a performance appraisal, it is important to use criteria (metrics) that have been proven effective in previous performance assessments.

In addition to training and development, we must include organizational design as a way of improving the learning organization. Organizational design is how the organization is structured and how jobs are connected, disconnected, or dependent on each other. Decision making, communication, and ultimately the entire business can be affected by faulty organizational design. For example, if a job is designed to have reporting requirements to two different supervisors, especially in different locations, there can be an inherent conflict.

The proof is always in the pudding. Evaluation of the training process is essential to the success of that process. Being able to measure reactions, changes in employee behaviors on the job, and changes in employee performance should all be considered as indicators when evaluating training results. Kirkpatrick’s four-level model of evaluation is one of several contributors to the world of training outcome evaluation (Kirkpatrick, & Kirkpatrick, 2006). Kirkpatrick’s model focuses on evaluating the effectiveness of a training process after it has been conducted using data collection methods and information such as the participants’ reaction, how their knowledge was changed, how their behavior on the job might have changed, and how the training has affected organizational goals.



Covey, S. R. (1989). The 7 habits of highly effective people. Old Tappan, NJ: Simon & Schuster.

Kelman, G. (2010, May 8). What Starbucks learned about learning [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Kirkpatrick, D. & Kirkpatrick, J. (2006). Evaluating training programs: The four levels (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler.

Senge, P. M. (1990). The fifth discipline: The art & practice of the learning organization. New York, NY: Doubleday.

Suggested Reading

In the Unit Lesson, we discuss Kirkpatrick’s evaluation model that focuses on reflection of the training program. If you would like to study this concept further, consider reading the full book:

Kirkpatrick, D. & Kirkpatrick, J. (2006). Evaluating training programs: The four levels (3rd ed.). San Francisco

Describe traditional training methods computer-based training methods and e-learning

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