Ensuring successful internet training by use of color-coding

Introduction

The new millennium has brought a number of new challenges, including new options for project management training. With easy access to the Internet, a number of new training options have become available, including self-paced, live and blended offerings. This session will look at the various training options available to project managers and how to use learning styles (color-coding) to select the right training medium for success. Using this training approach it will allow project managers to move “First to the Future” in enhanced professional training.

Internet Training Options

With the advent of the new millennium a number of new training options are becoming available to project managers. Traditional classroom training has been the only medium available to teach project management. With the arrival of the Internet, along with other technologies, new methods are available to teach project management. This technology opens new avenues never before available for training. Computer-Based Education (CBT) has been around for years, allowing self-paced learning. Now with the Internet as a platform, a myriad of new training is becoming available. Such options as web based CBT, chat rooms, live voice over the Internet and a blending of these mediums has opened up a wide array of training choices.

Historically, training has been offered primarily in a traditional classroom setting. Options were limited to four walls, fellow students and an instructor. Now choices are expanding. This includes self-paced Internet-based training the student can take at their own pace and on their own schedule. This type of training tracks the student's progress and allows for online testing of knowledge retention. Some of these options allow the student to interact with in instructor via email or in some instances through chat rooms. Other offerings include a live course with voice over the Internet. Under the live Internet option, students convene at a given time from various locations around the world and participate in a training session courtesy of the Internet and various facilitating software.

All these learning mediums must provide engaging material that both teaches and entertains students. The various options available on the Internet can be broken down into synchronous and asynchronous. Synchronous options include interactive mediums such as live voice over the Internet and chat rooms, where there is a two-way communication. Asynchronous options include self-paced and email, where there is only one-way communication and the learner learns by himself. Two other terms that are useful in the definition of this environment are Learner Guided and Facilitator Guided approaches. The Learner Guided approach allows a learning that allows flexibility for the participants to guide their own experience. Facilitator Guided is a learning experience that is more structured in which the participant is lead through in a set format.

Learning Styles

Learning styles are a useful indicator in selecting the type of online training that is best for you. The concepts set forth by Dr. Jung relating to personality types is a useful tool in assessing learning styles, called color-coding. Personality types are categorized into colors that include Red, Blue, Green and Yellow. Each personality type represents characteristics of each group. For instance a Red likes the instructor to get to the point and to facilitate their learning process with a lot of freedom to do it on their own. This type of learner is oriented more to asynchronous guided type learning called learner guided. The Blue's like lots of information they love to read, which lends itself to self-paced or asynchronous learning. The Yellows like groups and fun and enjoyable activities. These types of learners like the synchronous type learning events, like the live Internet types of courses. Greens are personality types that need time for processing. Teach them something and let them go away and think about it. This type of learner is most responsive to a facilitated guided environment (synchronous with a guided outline) that includes structured learning and review.

Additional learning theories can also be applied that reflect a similar orientation. Such approaches as Whole-Brain Theory, Honey-Mumford, Kolbe Learning Cycle, and Multiple Intelligences (MI) may be used to assess learning needs. Using Whole-Brain Theory both left- and right-brain ideas may be applied. In Left-brain theory learning can best occur through logical, analytical, objective and sequential approaches. Using right-brain theory learning comes more form creativity, intuition, random, and subjective. By assessing the type of approach individuals predominantly use through Whole-Brain Theory, we may more accurately match the individual's preferred learning pattern. By looking at perceptual modalities such as MI, we can also build training that engages visual, auditory, kinesthetic, tactile, etc. These learning styles support the approach discussed for color-coding and provide additional avenues to approach the design and development of Internet training.

Conation and Motivation

Motivation is what begins the learning process. Motivation moves a learner to understand the need to learn a particular topic. There are a variety of motivation tactics to encourage learners to begin a learning process. Mandated learning is one approach, another is value to the learner, another is reward base on a material gift. Motivation sets the learning process in motion.

Conation is what keeps some one engages in the learning process. The learning process engages me and therefore, I will continue the learning process. Our main focus should be on conation and keeping the learner engages in the learning process. By using color-coding, we may identify what is of most interest to the individual based on their preferred learning modality.

For Internet-based training we have identified the types of training that are available. Synchronous learning occurs at a set time where all of the participants are learning together at the same time. Asynchronous learning allows learners to learn by themselves when they want to learn. Reds (extraverted thinking) prefer Asynchronous with a mentor and a Learner guided experience. Yellows (extraverted feeling) prefer highly synchronous learning and prefer Facilitator guided learning. Greens (introverted feeling) prefer lecture-oriented Synchronous or mentor assisted Asynchronous and are Facilitator guided in their learning approach. Blues (introverted thinking) prefer an Asynchronous learning experience and direct their learning from a Learner guided viewpoint.

Learning Style Assessment

By assessing learning styles we are better able to determine the type of Internet based training that will lead to success. Using pre-and post-assessments are useful tools in determining a participant's preferred learning style. Using such tools as Myers Briggs (MBTI) the assessment is lengthy and detracts from quickly moving to instruction. Using a tool such as color-coding is easily administered and allows a rapid assessment of and individual's preferred approach to learning. It also provides an easy to understand format to categorize how participants learn and allows them to understand for themselves how they learn best.

It also provides a big helping hand to instructors and educational designers in knowing how students learn and structuring courses so that all students will succeed. Instructors that understand color-coding are able to assess learner's needs in terms of learning my merely observing participants in class. This allows the instructor to adjust learning needs to the class, especially in an online Internet class. In the traditional classroom the instructor can see the participants, in an online environment the instructor will need tools to assess the learning needs of group.

The following lists for each color-code help to indicate to the instructor what each category needs in a training setting:

  • Red
    • Action Oriented
    • Get to the Point
    • Practical Action
    • Immediate
    • Fast
  • Yellow
    • Experiential
    • Get Me Involved
    • Interactive
    • Spontaneous
    • Sociable
  • Green
    • Reflective
    • Give Me Time to Review
    • Structured Activities
    • Stands Back
    • Cautious
  • Blue
    • Theoretical
    • Give Me the Details
    • Intellectual
    • Through Processing
    • Research

The color-coding of training materials is also a useful tool in enabling learners select the training that is appropriate for them. By using the variety of tools available to engage students, the modules within the training course can be color-coded by Red, Blue, Green and Yellow to indicate the learning need that is being fulfilled.

Conclusion

To facilitate courses offered over the Internet, a good approach is to classify participants to identify their best mode of learning. The use of color-coding is one easy approach that allows individuals to determine the appropriate type of Internet class to take. Classifications such as Red, Yellow, Blue and Green indicate the type of Internet training that is appropriate for an individual's learning style. By assessing the personality type both the participants and the instructor are able to make intelligent Internet-based training choices.

This material has been reproduced with the permission of the copyright owner. Unauthorized reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited. For permission to reproduce this material, please contact PMI or any listed author.

Proceedings of the Project Management Institute Annual Seminars & Symposium
November 1–10, 2001 • Nashville, Tenn., USA

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