Using technology in training can be disruptive – but answer these questions and you can turn disruption into efficient and advanced training.

Today’s training can be enhanced – or disrupted, by new advances in technology such as Computer Based Training (CBT), elearning or Web Based Training (WBT aka elearning), video and audio webinars, and the use of metric dashboards. In order to use technology effectively, you have to ask a few questions and understand how to use each of the technologies offered.

First, you should ask if the chosen technology is appropriate to the material. Many training organizations use technology simply because it’s there and not because it works for the learning intervention at hand. You can ask yourself if participants will likely have questions about the material – and how they can be answered if there is not a live person around. For example, highly technical information with various outcomes may not be appropriate for CBT or WBT, but may be appropriate for a video webinar, where participants can see and hear an instructor. Informational pieces with electronic resources such as websites or other documents are certainly appropriate for WBT. It may seem efficient to take the human element out of training, but remember to look at the long-term effects.

Second, consider the audience. What is the audience’s skill level with computers and technology? Have they had training via one of these methods before? Are they geographically diverse or are they all in one location? When you answer these questions about your audience, you’ll be able to determine which technologies will work for them. For example, if you have an “old school” audience who may not be computer savvy, you’ll want to steer away from WBT. Alternatively, you can integrate CBT with a classroom course, so that the instructor teaches and then assists participants in learning more material via a WBT program.

Third, you must determine if the technology can be seamlessly integrated into the training program. If you’re teaching a live sales class and then ask the participants to go to a computer for an intervention, you’re disrupting the live flow. On the other hand, if you’re teaching a course that uses computers to simulate the work environment, a WBT program will integrate nicely into the flow. Correct integration offers learners an opportunity to change their focus and learning methods for a few moments, which probably enhances the learning experience. Webinars are useful in courses that have more than one part or are part of a greater network, such as leadership training. You may have one leadership meeting in person and then have the participants connect via video webinar to discuss their progress later on.

Fourth, ask yourself if the technological intervention is reusable. If you take the time to integrate a WBT into a classroom course, participants should be able to reuse the technology as a job aid in the field. This way, they feel pressure to remember where to get information instead of feeling pressure to remember every piece of information taught in a course. What if one of your leadership participants misses the video webinar? Is this a reason to ask him or her to leave the program and start over again? Many webinar providers offer the ability to record sessions for later use – keep this in mind when you choose a provider.

Now that you’ve asked these questions, think about the typical uses for the technology you have available. WBT are sometimes used for informational courses, especially those that every employee must have, such as compliance. These types of technologies are also used to teach computer skills, from Microsoft Office to company-specific computer systems. Webinars, both audio and video, can be used to teach “classroom” skills to geographically diverse audiences, as well as keep networked audiences in touch with each other either during or after class. Metric dashboards can be used in training courses that teach about the metrics – for example, your sales course may need to teach participants how to use a system to look up their own sales performance. Integrate this into the teaching of your sales process.

Using technology in training does not have to be disruptive if you can answer these four questions and be aware of how your technology can be used efficiently with your audience. Take the time to determine all of this and you can turn technology into efficient and advanced training programs.

Copyright 2010-2017 Bryant Nielson. All Rights Reserved.

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