User-Generated Training and a Culture of Learning

Okay, so you read the title of this article and started pulling your hair out, right? I hear you:

  • “Is EVERYONE a trainer now?”
  • “What do they know about learning theory?”
  • “Will I still have a job if we start using user-generated content for training?”

Worry not, fellow trainers! The answers to your questions are simple: “No”; “Not much”; and “Yes.”

Remember: YOU are the professional. And because they’re not trainers, and because they don’t know learning theory — yes, you’ll still have a job. In fact, user-generated content (UGC) might even make you a superstar at your company because you’ll be developing more training with more relevance to the workforce. Face it: user-generated content is a coming wave in corporate training, and it’s time to learn to surf.

“User-generated content is a coming wave in #corporatetraining, and it’s time to learn to surf.” Click To Tweet

What’s So Great About User-Generated Training?

UGC has three key benefits for corporate training:

  • It’s cost-efficient. According to, “Cost-conscious organizations are reducing their reliance on formal instructor-led training with [fewer] expensive virtual classrooms and other internet-based training. They are instead increasing their reliance on content from subject matter experts (SMEs), both formally and informally.” Placing training tools directly in the hands of the experts saves time for you and the SMEs— ultimately saving money.
  • Organizations can capture institutional knowledge. You know those managers who are retiring and taking 30 years of experience with them? Allow them to share their expertise directly and help create training for the next generation. By passing along their knowledge, others can glean useful pieces of information from those who know the industry best.

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  • They know the job best. In the end, the real experts on anything at your company are the people who actually do the work. UGC gives them a (somewhat) unfiltered forum for passing their knowledge along.

How Does UGC Benefit the Training Department?

Remember what we said about making you a superstar? Here’s where the rubber meets the road.

User-generated training (UGT) helps with the most elusive training beast of them all: engagement. And it doesn’t just better engage trainees. Because the training comes from all over the company, UGT creates better institutional engagement.

  • Company-wide ownership means everyone will want to get in on the act. Who doesn’t want to tell their story and be seen as an expert?
  • Speaking of stories, it’s the real-world storytelling that fully engages learners. There’s nothing like a corporate war story to pull trainees into the world of learning.
  • Finally, UCT has a grassroots feel that helps trainees see past the “corporate” messages. Big companies can sometimes seem faceless — UGT gives learning a face and a voice.

And there’s one additional benefit to your training department: more content. Using UGC allows you to fill gaps in your training library quickly and inexpensively.

Developing a Culture of Learning — UGT’s #1 Benefit

As a training professional, UGT allows you to go beyond the task-oriented job of creating training. You can impact the big picture by creating a learning culture at your company. Here’s how:

  • Provide the right tools. Give your new “trainers” what they need: video tools, authoring software, etc., and keep it simple enough that they’ll only need cursory training. Be sure to give them guidelines on creating the type of training you want and need.

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  • Maintain editorial control. With UGT, you become a curator of content, and your role is essential for success. As a clearing house, you help maintain consistency and instructional integrity.
  • Encourage content creation. Gifts, recognition, and rewards help encourage experts at your company to create training. Make your efforts public — and promote friendly competition.
  • Welcome your new “marketing team.” Content creators will be the best marketers you’ve ever had for your training. Not only will they encourage others to experience their training, all their friends will wantto see the latest from the experts.

Tired of Chasing Down SMEs?

If, like most trainers, you’re frustrated with waiting for SMEs to respond, user-generated training could be the solution you’re looking for! When SMEs create the training directly and you foster a bit of healthy competition, you won’t have to wait for them — they’ll be beating down your door.

So breathe, my trainer friend. Stop pulling out your hair and start pulling your training from the people who really know the jobs best!

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About the Author:

Allan Dodson is so much more than a writer and instructional designer. He’s helped develop strategy in Fortune 500 boardrooms, and he’s taught acting skills to 4th graders.  He’s developed training programs for everything from hair highlighting to pest control to DSL lines, and he’s made presentations to C-level execs, teachers (tough crowd!) and all workforce levels. In short, he has the experience, versatility, creativity, and energy to move projects large and small, and he’s ready for any challenge.

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