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Technology has opened up an exciting new chapter


Gary White of White Springs explains why learning technology cannot be ignored.

There’s no denying that the way we learn has, and is, changing. Any company that doesn’t regularly review and adapt its training methods will get left behind - the world we’re living in is moving far too fast to hang around. Money spent on training methods that are out of date is, quite frankly, money poured down the drain. We need to be constantly assessing our learning styles in order to work out which methods are likely to be the most successful and therefore better value for your money.

The chief driver of this change in the way we learn is technology. We are now used to a much faster, more sophisticated and more connected world and training must reflect this. The technology we use in all areas of our life is having an effect on our daily activities. For example, we don’t just watch TV anymore – we watch TV, tweet about what we’re watching and download the latest app for our iPads all at the same time. We’re used to multimodal life and fast moving technology, not long afternoons in the classroom. Quite simply we’ve come to expect and rely on technology much more than we used to; training’s not just conducted around a table with a flipchart and marker pen anymore. Generations of children are growing up with vast amounts of technology quite literally at their fingertips and as these generations become part of our workforce we must adapt to the radically different way in which they learn.

It’s important to remember that whilst technology in learning is essential, it’s not the be all and end all. It’s got to be used as a means to an end not an end in itself, and it shouldn’t be expected to eliminate problems like some kind of magic wand. Technology should be integrated into a wider technique. It should be thought of as a facilitator of success that needs some support from other areas. An engaging and passionate teacher or trainer is 100% invaluable, and technology shouldn’t be used as a complete replacement for face-to-face learning. But the reality is that this type of training is costly, time-consuming and inflexible and therefore is just not the best option all the time now. Learning technologies can nurture the seeds sown by top trainers and help to reinforce and strengthen their message long after they’ve gone. The flexibility they offer is incredible; training can take place in the location and at the time of your choice and at a pace you are comfortable with, and can be retaken as many times as necessary. The traditional face-to-face methods just cannot offer this kind of convenience and versatility, and they certainly can’t reach the levels of sophistication and variety that technology has the scope to.

"An engaging and passionate teacher or trainer is 100% invaluable, and technology shouldn’t be used as a complete replacement for face-to-face learning."

It must not be forgotten that although training might start in the classroom, it certainly doesn’t end there. When learners are back at work they put into practice what they have learnt, and this practical reinforcement is a crucial part of the learning process. Traditional training methods fall down here, as learners have scarcely any help on hand to support them if a problem arises. With the right technology implemented, however, it is an entirely different story. Support and reinforcement can be integrated into existing systems so that the solutions to their problems and queries are easily accessible via PCs or mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones. Short of the trainer standing over their shoulder for x number of weeks following the training, traditional methods just do not stretch to this kind of long-term and instant support.

Finally something of the utmost importance when introducing new technology is to ensure it’s a good fit with your existing system and has a usability that the workforce will be able to familiarise with quickly. If you roll it out in the wrong way, without proper introduction and instruction, it will be received negatively and it could put staff off future innovation. You need to communicate effectively to ensure that they know exactly what’s going on and why; explain to them transparently your motivation behind the change and the research you’ve done to back this up.

So proper research, enthusiasm and good communication are all necessary if the introduction of new technologies is going to be a success. I’d love to hear from anyone who has recently incorporated new technologies into their learning and training strategies and how easy or difficult they found the process. Does anyone have any tips on how to make the adoption run smoothly?

Gary White is CEO of White Springs, who help sales training companies to enhance their methods with sales training technologies

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