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From the Chalkboard to the Chatboard


Jacqui Harper of Crystal Business Training charts the way training has moved on from the days when trainers talked and learners listened.

There was a time when training was all chalk and talk. Thankfully the formal traditional ways are probably best for the classroom, where the techniques are right for developing the minds of young pupils, but the training room of the 21st century is a very different place.

The training providers “cafeteria” of courses
For one thing, business people pick and choose far their courses more now. At one time companies often took a fixed training package.

The deal covered a wide range of topics, some of which they might not want or need.

This was the way they did it because this was the way they had always done it or they just liked the idea of a comprehensive parcel of training.

Companies now treat the training provider more like a cafeteria, selecting just the items they want.

They ask themselves exactly what they need to help them achieve bottom-line improvement, they go for those subjects and they reject everything else.

After all, it is pointless to sit through a session that is more relevant to manufacturing when your business is travel.

This approach has led to a growth in boutique training firms like Crystal Business Training who are specialists in presentation skills and media training.

Holistic training
One other significant development in training is the holistic approach. In the past training was something that happened between 9am and 5pm on the day of the course.

Enlightened employers today start talking about the course months beforehand and continue building on it months afterwards. In fact, there is hardly any let-up in the training process.

Training is no good if it stays in the training room after the participants have made their speedy exit.

In the best training circles close attention is paid to what happens after the course. It’s crucial to getting staff to act on what they have learned on their courses.

Often trainers are involved in this process. Trainers visit delegates on their own ground to see them in action and if required give further training in groups.

Sometimes individual coaching is a better solution. Long lasting development takes careful reinforcement to do the trick.

The particular attention being paid to training by employers shows how much more seriously they are taking it all.

Technology in training
Training companies are constantly trying to make training easier for clients and one of our most popular aids is that wonderful invention by Graham Bell - the telephone.

Audio seminars provide convenient support after a course and can be accessed by anyone, anywhere in the world from a phone.

This form of training reduces the time and cost of travelling for delegates and trainers and the savings are enormous to business.

Imagine a company with offices in Edinburgh, Swansea and Belfast. The train and airfares for two people from each office would cost a fortune, but a telephone seminar involves petty cash by comparison.

The other reason for the popularity of the phone seminar is its ability to provide up to date information in a concise and engaging way.

It is certainly the future, especially when used with the Internet.

Everybody in the training session can be using the web to see visuals or notes, so the instructor and the employees can have the best of both worlds.

With good preparation almost any topic can be dealt with in this way – including presentation skills, media training and image training.

This is the area that will be developed more vigorously as employers see the benefits of technology, saving them time and money.

The big explosion could of course be in web casting where the contact is visual and even more realistic. I am sure that as the take-up gathers pace trainers will be even more creative with the medium.

The future for face-to-face training
But for those who fear that the whole world of training is going mechanical there’s some reassurance.

Telephone seminars and web casting will be tremendously useful but there will always be a requirement for personal contact.

This is probably most true for training senior managers or covering complex and sensitive issues. The training room is not obsolete and will always have a place.

Instructing at a distance and delivering in the training room are not mutually exclusive. They are very complementary. In the end nothing can really replace face-to-face and one-to-one contact.


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