Are you thinking of using eBooks within your instructor led training courses? Certainly there are many advantages – no expensive shipping costs and lost parcels – no lugging of heavy manuals for delegates – the ability to provide a deeper learning experience through links and videos – the integration of assessment tools – to name but a few of the benefits. But there are other considerations with the eManual. Having been involved for some time with eBooks in this market and we share some of our lessons and thoughts:
1. Did they download?
Arriving to give your training course to find the training manuals and other materials have not arrived is one of the trainer’s worth nightmares. Having the materials sent electronically before the course looks like a solution. But, has the candidate downloaded the eBook or will they leave it until the start of the course before taking any action? This sounds like an issue but your choice of eBook provider can overcome this. EBooks have the advantage of leaving a digital footprint so that it is possible to see if the book has been downloaded well before the course. A system of reminders can then auto-prompt the delegate.
Do we have the right address? Well many a delivery of physical books has gone astray because of poor addressing. The advantage of the eBook is that even a wrong email address can be identified well before the course and corrected.
One issue for trainers is whether you want them to have materials before the course. Great for pre-course reading. But, depending on teaching method and materials this will need some thought. Often the physical handout is not given until after the discussion and learning experience. If materials are provided beforehand in a searchable electronic format then the presentation methodology just needs a little thought.
EBooks can be read on-line and off-line. So materials can be downloaded pre course and thus there is no reliance on a decent internet connection at the venue. But be aware that the delegate who is not using an App and assumes that they will have on-line access may be disappointed. To protect eBooks from copying and re-distribution, the books are protected with Digital Rights Management (DRM) software. Some locations, and not just Ministry of Defence and other secure locations, have firewalls in place to exclude the use of files which have DRM protection and embedded links. The firewalls can wrongly identify the DRM protection as a threat. Connectivity does not have to be an issue provided there is awareness, and a little planning by the trainer.
3. BYOD – Bring your Own Device
Most candidates want to use their own tablet or laptop. But it is a good idea to establish in the pre-registration process what the rules and expectations are. Bringing your own device means that in any given room there will almost certainly be a Windows based, IOS based and an Android device. These all work with slightly different user applications (Apps). They all look similar but have navigation aspects which are slightly and somewhat annoyingly different. The trainer needs to be aware of this and feel comfortable. A case of training the trainer to understand the range of technologies.
4. Design of training materials.
Many of the eBooks and eManuals we provide are based on the same PDF that was used for printing. This is fine and it works. But there is a huge benefit to be gained by a little re-thinking:
Most printed training manuals are constructed and designed knowing that colour printing is 5 times the price of mono. An electronic download sees no difference in colour or mono. So the look and feel of the material can be brought to life.
- Page Layout
There is no reason to put PowerPoint slides as 6 to view on a page – the number of pages will not influence the price of the eBook and the reader works much better with a full page to view. And it is not just PowerPoint. The book is now searchable and does not have the same page restrictions so the layout can be made to reflect the eReader and not the constraints of printing.
- e Pub
Whilst an eBook can be generated from a PDF, there is a limit to the functionality that can be generated. The beauty of creating a true eManual is the ability to place links in the book so that it becomes the starting point of the learning experience not the final destination. Links can pass the reader to further reference materials or assessment centres. But it is not just links, the ePub allows for embedded video thus creating a multimedia experience.
The ePub also allows for the embedding of questions and assessments. Multiple choice questions placed at the end of a chapter with revealed answers can test understanding within the manual. Or the book can point to an integrated assessment tool that can allows the trainer to see the performance of the delegates in real time.
Redesigning the course material using ePub presents a new world of opportunities.
5. Train the trainer
Having worked in this area for a few years we find the main driving force for change to electronic media is demand from the delegates. One of the biggest stumbling blocks can be the trainer – not all trainers by any means. Instructor led training requires a high level of skill to be done well. Training using eBooks requires thought and potentially a rethink of presentation. This should not be seen as a barrier, it’s just different.