Point Lookout: a free weekly publication of Chaco Canyon Consulting
Volume 23, Issue 21;   May 24, 2023: Ten-Minute Training

Ten-Minute Training


Despite decades of evolution of technology-assisted workplace learning, instructor-led classroom formats remain the most popular and effective. Now perhaps videoconferencing can help to achieve that effectiveness at lower cost.
A workplace training session

A workplace training session

Two classes of formats dominate conventional workplace training. The instructor-led classroom format usually employs session durations of a half-day or more, face-to-face, addressing complex subject matter using a combination of readings, presentation, interaction, games, and experiential techniques. Online self-study formats usually involve shorter sessions, addressing technical material using readings and/or video recordings, coupled with multiple-choice proficiency examinations.

The two methodologies have dramatically different cost profiles. Not surprisingly, instructor-led classroom formats are more popular, and the online formats are lower in cost. [Schmidt 2007] A natural question arises. Is there a way to lower the cost of instructor-led formats while maintaining their effectiveness and popularity for the subject domains they address? Ten-minute training might suggest a path forward.

The ten-minute training format

The fundamental objective of the ten-minute training format is delivery of a small package of knowledge that attendees can apply in their jobs immediately. A knowledgeable instructor leads the session, which is conducted as an interactive videoconference, with all participants able to speak to the class, and all participants' images visible to each other. To encourage interaction, attendance is limited to 20 participants. Session duration is ten minutes, with five additional minutes for "Q&A". Typical programs consist of 10 or more sessions, related to each other, and designed to be delivered in a set order. In this way, the ten-minute training format can deliver bodies of knowledge comparable in scale to what conventional formats now deliver.

Advantages of the ten-minute training format

The principal advantage of the ten-minute training format is that it provides instructor-led education at low cost while avoiding the disruption of regular work that accompanies the longer sessions of conventional instructor-led education.

Ten-minute The fundamental objective of ten-minute
training: deliver a small package of
knowledge that attendees can use today
training achieves cost reduction compared to conventional instructor-led approaches because there is no need for travel. The instructor needn't travel to the work site, and participants needn't travel to the instruction site. Participants can attend from wherever they are in the enterprise.

Ten-minute training also avoids disrupting regular work because of its short session durations. Organizations can set aside a single time period each day or each week for ten-minute training sessions, and by scheduling around that time slot, regular work can proceed unimpeded.

Finally, because the program design emphasizes immediate application of the knowledge or skills imparted, learning continues after the session, enhancing the effectiveness of the method.

Why conventional instructor-led methods have the form they do

The economics of conventional instructor-led training are driven by costs of travel and lodging for either instruction staff or participants or both. To manage these costs, organizations lengthen training sessions to limit the cost of travel per hour of instruction. Session durations (pre-pandemic, and again now post-pandemic, presumably) might range from a half-day to a full week. This results in sessions that cover a large amount of material — more than most people can put into practice immediately upon returning to work. Much of it is therefore unavoidably forgotten.

Subjects suitable for Ten-Minute Training

The class of subjects most clearly suitable for ten-minute training includes those that have very little content. Sometimes, though, we can handle such items in an announcement. But if we expect the class attendees to have questions, ten-minute training can be a valuable approach.

Another class of suitable subjects includes those that can be sliced into small chunks. One example might be renaming the lanes of a Kanban board, or changing the exit criteria for those lanes. A larger subject, still suitable for ten-minute training, is Kanban itself.

Increasing complexity still more, we can use ten-minute training for a change management project that we've divided into stages. We can deal with each stage by further slicing into ten-minute chunks.

Last words

The ten-minute training approach provides a valuable combination of the low cost of videoconferencing with the interactivity that makes instructor-led classroom training so popular and effective. And scheduling is easier because there is no need for travel time, and the time slots required are so short. It's a valuable tool for subject matter that can be delivered in small chunks. Go to top Top  Next issue: When Your Boss Leaves Before You Do  Next Issue

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Comprehensive list of all citations from all editions of Point Lookout
[Schmidt 2007]
Steven W. Schmidt, "Relationship Between Satisfaction with Workplace Training and Overall Job Satisfaction," Human Resource Development Quarterly 18:4, (2007), pp.481-498. Available here. Retrieved 5 May 2023. Back

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