Mentoring with Online Training – An Evolutionary Step

Businesses weigh the effectiveness of training against costs.  Mastery of training is often measured in terms of the revised Bloom’s Taxonomy. This taxonomy defines the levels of learning as remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating and creating.  The costs associated with corporate training include the development and delivery of training, as well as time off the job.

Bloom Diagram

Instructor-led training is often seen as the best approach to training to meet all the levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy.  Instructor-led training is also the most expensive to deliver, and requires the most amount of time off the job.  As companies cut training budgets the use of instructor-led courses usually decline.

Computer based and online training are solutions based upon the principles of program instruction. Content is presented and then every several screens a question is asked and a correct answer is required before the participant can continue.  Assessments are provided to show mastery of learning objectives. As the training is delivered on a computer, the delivery and time off the job costs are reduced. Properly developed computer based and online training courses not only reduce costs, but also provide the participant with the ability to master the higher levels Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Community or social learning interactive websites allow members to post articles for review and seek answers to questions.  Companies can provide develop interactive websites where a  Subject Matter Experts (SME) monitors and answers questions for employees and customers. While these sites allow the ability to address the higher levels on Bloom’s Taxonomy, the informal structure of content and ad hoc learning process provides limited structure, quality control, and accountability.

Webinars allow SME to conduct live online meeting during which in-depth information is dispensed. The SME do not necessarily know the participants or levels of their skills and knowledge. A typical webinar sequence includes an introduction, review of basic information, presentation of new ideas, question and answer session. Webinars are often presented on a limited schedule and for a limited length of time. The session may be recoded and posted online for those that could not attend. A webinar’s ability to consistently increase the levels of learning on the Bloom Taxonomy is questionable. While costs are reduced so is accountability.

Using a combined approach including  online training, community or social learning and webinars can provide participants’ with training that is effective as instructor-led training with the reduced delivery costs and time off the job savings. We called this combined approach


Factual information to be mastered at the remembering, understanding, and occasionally applying levels, are covered using online learning. Participants’ mastery is demonstrated using online assessments.

Forums are used for continuing mastery at the applying level and initial levels of analyzing, evaluating and creating.

Live webinars are used to continue the growth process. Assessment results and forum posts are provided to the webinar host.  This helps to establish the skills and knowledge level of the participants’ allowing the host to address the high levels of learning. This allows the webinar SME to address the specific needs of participants’ at the higher Bloom’s Taxonomy levels of applying, analyzing, evaluating and creating

As this process is not tied to time off the job and classroom availability, the pacing and scheduling allows for flexibility.  The instructor becomes a mentor. The length of the program is determined upon the participants’ needs. A sample program schedule is presented below.

  1. At the beginning of the course, the mentor conducts a live webinar – 5 to 15 minutes
  2. Each week, participants are assigned – 45 to 90 minutes:
    • Self-directed learning lesson(s)
    • Exercises, which are completed individually and then reviewed using social forums
    • End of lesson individual and group exercises, which are reviewed by the mentor
  3. At the end of the week, the mentor conducts a live webinar to review the case studies and answer participants’ questions – 30 to 60 minutes

This process is repeated during the mentoring program. Participants are provided extended support to implement what they have learned in training onto their job. During this process, the role of instructor expands to include mentoring.

Advantages of this methodology include:

  • Limits time off the job
  • Balances work and learning time
  • Longer time to incorporate what is learned on the job
  • Incorporates real-world experience
  • Provides high level of learning on Bloom’s Taxonomy

The measurement of success for these programs is based upon the participants’ job performance.
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Making Your SME a Mentor

In today’s business current and accurate information is critical. While everyone does not need to know everything, you do need to know how to access it and to reach the appropriate Subject Matter Expert (SME). The ability for a SME to distribute information and address operational issues directly impacts a company’s productivity, effectiveness, customers’ satisfaction, and bottom line.

Example 1
A medical insurance company is changing how to code a specific procedure. Any claim submitted with the old coding procedure will be rejected and returned. A bulletin on the new coding procedure has been distributed, but performance issues still exist. Clients are calling claim agents asking for explanations. Many of these calls are being escalated. This is taking time, wasting money, and creating problems with customers. When the SME meets with the claim agents to explain the new process, how it is used in specific cases, and answers questions, coding errors decline.

Example 2
Two equipment manufacturers have just merged. While both provide similar and complementary products, each targets a different market.  Salespeople are expected to understand and sell the products from both companies. The problem is, how do you get the salespeople to master the product information and sales process, from the other company? Sales literature and product specifications, from both companies have been distributed, but performance issues still exist. Salespeople are calling HQ asking for help. Many of these calls are being referred to SMEs at both companies. This is taking time, money, creating problems with customers and management teams from both companies. When the SMEs meet with the salespeople to explain the new products, sales process, review specific cases and answers questions the product sales from both companies increase.

How do you address these types of issues without overwhelming the demands on your SMEs?

You do this by having the SME be proactive while, using the appropriate technology. The team at Socrategy, Inc. has researched this and related issues during the past several years and has developed a solution to allow your SME to act as mentor; not just as a depository of information.

Socrategy OnTrack™ is our blended mentoring system platform. From a single location Socrategy OnTrack provides self-paced training, documents, literature, discussion forms and live web meetings. Participants cover the self-directed content at their own schedule.  Live web meetings are then conducted by the SME to address questions, analytical issues, and specific problems. The SME can conduct web meetings, as needed, with a group or individual. Socrategy works with you to develop all content, allowing your SMEs to be SMEs and mentors.

How Long Does It Take to Get a New Manager Up To Speed?

Every newly hired or promoted manager takes time to get up to speed.  The manager needs to learn what is expected, measurements of success, team member roles, and responsibilities. The manager needs to understand the impact of the group’s performance on the company and other groups. How long to do you allow for a manager to get up to speed?  A structured mentoring program can help shorten this period and improve the performance of the group and company.  Socrategy’s Management Mentoring Program is such a program.  We are piloting this program starting in September.  There are two different groups appropriate for this program.  In the open enrollment program, people from a variety of companies can enroll. We are scheduling an open enrollment program to start August 17, 2015.

Our company specific program allows us to customize the content to include company policies, procedures and reports. We can schedule the sessions to meet the company’s needs. To learn more about the pilot, or to sign up, visit Socrategy Pilot.

Management Mentoring Program Pilot

Because learning general theories isn’t a  guarantee of real-world success, Socrategy, Inc. provides an  innovative approach that combines training and mentoring. We are proud to announce our new Management Mentoring program. The Management Mentoring program has a hands on approach along with focused mentoring.

Program components include the instructional materials, instructors/mentors, forums, online assessments and interactive webinars. The Management Mentoring program is based upon our, highly successful management training, for corporate clients. The program is delivered using Socrategy OnTrack our mentoring/blended learn platform.

Two different groups are appropriate for this program. In the open enrollment program, people from a variety of companies can enroll. We are scheduling an open enrollment program to start August 17, 2015.

Company specific allows us to customize the content to include company policies, procedures and reports. We can schedule the sessions to meet the company’s needs. To learn more about the pilot, or to sign up, visit Socrategy Pilot.