The 6 Laws That Will Make Your PLM Training Program Succeed

writing in a notebook plm training

As I’m sure you already know, the failure rate of PLM implementations is high. If you’ve recently purchased or are in the market for a PLM system for your organization, that’s the last thing you want to hear. However, there is some good news–a major reason for this failure is due to a poor PLM training program. Employees don’t understand how the system works or where they fit in. Why is this a good thing? Because in this article we’re going to share what you can do to design an effective PLM training program that will succeed.

Designing any corporate training program is no easy feat. There are so many factors to consider when starting the development process. What is the most relevant content? How long should the program be? Is it time efficient? The list goes on and on. So where do you start?

When creating any educational program, it’s crucial that you start by focusing on who your learners are. But the true key to designing effective training is understanding how people learn and building a program that accommodates their needs and habits. That’s why in this article we’re going to explain the 6 ‘laws of learning’ and how applying them to your PLM training program design will ensure it succeeds. We’re going to go over definitions and specific examples of these learning principles to guide your plan and its development. Let’s go!

What are the 6 laws of learning and where did they come from?

The 6 laws of learning are principles of educational psychology that explain the most effective ways in which people learn. American psychologist, Edward Thorndike, developed the first 3 principles in the early 20th century. Thorndike was a pioneer not only in behaviorism but also in the study of learning where he came up with concepts of reinforcement and conditioning.

Later on other educational psychologists identified 3 more principles which now make up the 6 main laws of learning. The laws are as follows: the law of readiness, the law of exercise, the law of effect, the law of primacy, the law of recency, and the law of intensity.

Of course, these principles can and should be followed when creating any type of educational course since they help learners retain more of what they learn. Let’s take a look at their definitions, why they are so important to follow, and how you can use them to design your PLM training program.

1. Law of Readiness

The law of readiness states that learning can only take place when the person is ready to learn. When your learners feel good and prepared, they will have a greater comprehension of the material and learn more effectively. Sometimes this can be dependent on factors out of your control, such as whether the person got a good night’s sleep or if they’re feeling well or not. But there are many things that your organization can do to improve your learners’ state of mind.

First, before the training begins, introduce them to the curriculum and work to generate interest in the program. This can be done through an internal marketing campaign, which we did a whole webinar about and that you can watch here.

Other ways to get your learners ready is to free up some time or space on their calendars so they feel less stressed and not so overworked. Also, hosting pre-training meetings is a way to provide support and answer any of their questions so your employees won’t feel anxious about learning a complex system all alone.

2. Law of Effect

The law of effect, which was actually the first principle that Thorndike developed, states that learning is strengthened if positive emotions are associated with it. In contrast, if negative emotions are experienced when the learning takes place, then learning is weakened. The best possible situation is that the learner feels some type of enjoyment or satisfaction while learning.

To improve your PLM training program, design it to be fun and strive for your learners to feel confident and accomplished with what they’ve learned. Instead of using boring, dense PDF manuals, create modern learning materials like ecourses with images, videos, and shorter lessons that they can enjoy. Bite-sizing the material will also help you avoid fatiguing your learners or making them feel defeated by huge, unmanageable lessons.

As always, support is key to improving the attitudes of your employees. Schedule support meetings and feedback sessions so they will feel heard and assisted. You can even set milestones that are rewarded throughout the program so people feel accomplished in their progress.

3. Law of Exercise

I’m sure you’ve heard, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.” The law of exercise is just that – the more practice, the more the person will retain the information. Repetition is key!

As we’ve talked about on our social media, microlearning is a great method for applying this principle. Smaller lessons spread out across a longer period of time that repeat the same material a number of times is a more effective way to learn. This can be done in a variety of ways.

Like we do for many of our clients, you can create a series of short videos that repeat and build on information as the training progresses. We then incorporate those tutorials in an ecourse that goes over the lesson again and quizzes the learners at the end. You could also begin a “tip of the day” email sequence in your company’s internal marketing campaign we mentioned before.

4. Law of Primacy

The law of primacy is another well-known principle. It’s related to the phrase “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” The idea is that relearning something in a new way is harder than learning it correctly initially. This is because the first way a person learns something makes a very strong impression on them. It’s always better to do things right the first time!

That’s why when it comes to your PLM training program, you need to craft a killer user onboarding course that you implement from the beginning. Don’t let your PLM users mess around in the system, teaching themselves less efficient ways of working. You don’t want to spend your time putting out fires everywhere later. Start with a strategy and a successful training program from the jump.

5. Law of Recency

The law of recency states that a person remembers the most recently learned information best. We all know that and have experienced it. So how can you use that to improve your employees retention of your PLM program?

Reiterating some of the points mentioned above, you should structure your training so that it builds on previously-learned material. This can be done with unit reviews at the end of lessons or at the beginning of the following lesson. In the PLM training materials we develop for customers, we program interactive quizzes after lesson sections. These self-assessments help learners recall information and apply that recent knowledge immediately which helps their brains build a connection with the information.

6. Law of Intensity

Last but not least, the law of intensity states that the more exciting and engaging the material is, the more likely the person will remember it. Incorporating real-world scenarios that connect the material to actual daily tasks or work is the best way to teach your learners with this principle.

For hands-on activities, ‘job shadowing’ is a way to teach your employees exactly how you want tasks completed. For technical procedures your team needs to learn within the PLM system, we recommend developing software simulations. We generate these system demos in our training materials so that users can practice procedures in a stress-free environment since they’re not messing around in the real PLM system. They guide the learner step by step through each task so it’s the perfect way to learn how to do things the right way.

So as you can see, these 6 laws of learning give you a solid framework to begin planning and developing a PLM training program that won’t leave your users lost and confused. Best of all these principles are scientifically proven to help your learners retain more of what you want them to learn, so your training will definitely be a success! Your PLM initiative won’t become another statistic that increases that average failure rate. Plus your users will enjoy the experience!

If you need help getting started with your training design or would like to know more about our modern elearning materials, video production process, or software simulations, contact us! We’d love to schedule a short call so you can start developing your PLM training program today.


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