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Pick and mixpixel.gif (807 bytes)

pixel.gif (807 bytes) Using the pick and mix approach
WE'VE SEEN HOW different training methods are more or less suitable to specific phases in the learning process and that, as a result, a 'pick and mix' approach will often produce better results than sticking to a single solution for all aspects of a learning intervention. We have added a new factor to consider in the selection of training methods, we have not thrown away the others. It is still important to:
  • consider the type of learning that is required (knowledge, skills or attitudes)
  • consider the preferences of learners
  • consider the media and the facilities you will require
  • consider the implications of cost, time and labour

Because there are so many factors to take into consideration, the mix of ingredients will vary widely in different situations. Let's first reconsider our call centre example. A complete training programme for call centre operators, involving telephone skills and product knowledge training, might include a wide variety of techniques:

Phase Method
Preparation Classroom
Presentation Interactive self-study materials
Practice Classroom role-play exercises
Computer-based product knowledge test
Review Classroom role-play feedback and discussion
Automated feedback to computer-based product knowledge test
Application Electronic performance support materials
ongoing on-job coaching

An MBA course, with a geographically-dispersed audience, could involve a very different mix of techniques:

Phase Method
Preparation Video conferencing
Presentation Non-interactive online self-study materials
Practice Projects
Review Online tutorial support
Application Online tutorial support

Whereas, a training programme in the operation of a complex piece of equipment, may involve yet another mix of techniques:

Phase Method
Preparation Small-group meeting
Presentation Computer-based tutorial
Practice Computer simulation
Review One-to-one coaching
Application Ongoing coaching
Use of computer-based tutorials as refreshers

What these examples have in common is that they do not try to force fit a single method to meet all the requirements of a training intervention. Using the pick and mix approach defuses many of the prejudices of trainers:

"you can't use a computer to teach that"
"you can only learn that on-the-job"

The answer in many cases is:

"yes you can use that method for a part of your overall approach"
"for best results, you'll need a mix of methods"

Try it for yourself. Take a look at a training programme that you now deliver using a single method. See if a range of methods, matched to learning phases, wouldn't increase the effectiveness. With the pick and mix approach you can combine the best of the old with the best of the new, bringing increased flexibility and variety to your training programmes.


This article was inspired by the ideas of Jane Moch, Business and Learning Technologies Analyst at the Post Office Training Centre, Wolverton Mill.

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                                                     Fastrak Consulting Ltd, 1999. All rights reserved.                                Last revised 1/10/99