Four Methods You Can Use to Train Employees on API Basics

Investing in comprehensive digital training has become a practical necessity for businesses across countless industries. The spread of technology (particularly pertaining to automation) continues at a rapid clip, and the practice of having in-house tech support to assist workers lacking digital skills loses its efficacy when you pivot to the now-standard remote working model.

There are plenty of areas to be covered, of course, meaning you can choose your preferred route — though you’ll need to cater your approach to each topic. When taking your employees through API basics, the goal should be to help them understand the key role that APIs play in the modern world and the value they'll see from API adoption. For organizations undergoing a Digital Transformation, educating employees about APIs can help increase buy-in as they begin to see how APIs can make their jobs easier. To help your employees best understand APIs, you'll need to choose a suitable method.

In this post, we’re going to set out four methods that you can successfully implement in your effort to train your employees on API basics. You can choose just one of them, or attempt all four. It depends on your situation. Regardless, let’s begin.

Invest In Decent Online Courses

The most common option for training of any kind (particularly in a time of remote working) is to turn to online courses. They’re extremely accessible these days. There are myriad websites that offer huge ranges of courses on broad or specific topics: some costly, some cheap, some free (Lifehack has a solid list of these). In addition to that, there are plenty of YouTube videos (and Vimeo videos) that have a lot of valuable info — including videos from ProgrammableWeb:

The investment here isn’t necessarily monetary, though it may well be: it’s also about time and effort, because going through a free course that has little to offer will be a waste. The good thing about standardized online courses is that they’re extremely trackable and generally have native assessments, making it much easier to tell what progress has been made.

Run Guided Training Sessions

If you already have employees familiar with how APIs work and what they’re used for, you can take advantage of this by getting them involved in training sessions for their coworkers. Sharing knowledge internally is enormously useful for companies with multiple departments (or just diverse roles), and it allows a lot more creative freedom than using a set program from outside.

This also opens up the possibility of turning to a consultancy service: finding an API expert (or set of experts) who can come in to provide instruction on particular topics. Consulting a third party is very common in the IT industry due to its sheer breadth: for instance, it’s standard practice for a value-added software reseller to task a cloud solution distributor (usually a company like intY) with stepping in to provide software training and assist on complex customer queries.

Bring Them In On API Projects

Many people learn best by doing (this is why active learning is so prominent). If there are already people in your company working on API projects, a good way to pique the interest of someone struggling for training motivation is to give them the opportunity to get involved in one or more of those projects. They can follow along with what’s being done, ask questions at their leisure, and be given limited tasks they can pursue without needing to rush themselves.

This form of training will inevitably lead to some major mistakes being made, which is why you should choose low-priority projects — but those mistakes will likely prove beneficial because dedicated professionals always learn from their errors. In all likelihood, joining a meaningful project won’t just show them the value of APIs: it’ll also inspire them to do their own research.

Offer Incentives for Upskilling

Lastly, one of the best methods for training employees on API basics doesn’t actually involve doing any training. Instead, it involves offering them meaningful incentives for upskilling in pertinent areas and leaving them to decide how they’re going to manage it. One person might want to arrange some intensive training over the course of a week. Another might prefer to learn slowly but surely over the course of several months.

In the end, you want your employees to understand API basics because it will allow them to make better use of all the software tools available to them (and see much more clearly how interconnected today’s digital world is). How they acquire that understanding shouldn’t really matter, and simply providing a path for promotion and/or salary improvement might end up being the most powerful motivator (and cost no more than a high-end training course would).

There you have it: four viable methods for training your employees on API basics. What you should do depends on the preferences and abilities of your team. Ask them about how they work, how they learn, and what would motivate them to learn — then deliver.

Be sure to read the next API Education article: What is a gRPC API and How Does it Work?