In the late 1960s, BBC show Tomorrow's World predicted a future where a computer would manage all classroom teaching. With each passing decade, technology has become an increasingly valuable part of the learning world - from early computers, to the internet. However, when an iPhone has the power to process the Apollo 11 flight, surely we can use this power to save time?
Training is a prime example of the Pareto principle in action, in which 20% of your input results in 80% of the results obtained. To make sure we're efficient, we need to know how we spend our time, and if that equals good value. For example, online courses have proved to be a highly effective and lucrative medium for learning providers. Combined, the global eLearning market is estimated to be worth over $40bn. Does the five hours you spent doing paperwork still represent good value, when you could have spent that time creating your first eLearning modules?
How We Spend Training Time
Training time is always a limited resource, and it's important we find the most effective way to spend it. While modern training can take many forms, let's look at a method that we're all familiar with - lecturing.
Lecturing remains one of the most common forms of instruction, particularly in higher education. Yet while it remains popular, evidence is beginning to suggest that there's a better way. In 2014, a Harvard study suggested that attendance typically falls over 30% over the course of a term. And if students are turning up, few are remembering what they've learned - as low as 10% of students can recall what they were told in a lecture.
Where training and learning providers have adopted technology, it typically takes the form of an LMS or student portal. Few are equipped to actually manage their students - they're equipped to share knowledge, but not for their students to absorb the knowledge. This is where technology can assist training professionals. Through communication triggers, training companies and professionals can reach their students around the clock across mediums, offering learning resources that are flexible to the learner.
Talent and Retention
Lecturing is sadly held back by a lack of teaching talent. While many PhD's are brilliantly intelligent in their field, it doesn't necessarily mean that they are equipped to teach their subject. Many universities and training providers are ranked on account of their research, not their teaching. As such, there is a risk that training and education professionals are failing to pass knowledge on to students in a way they can understand. Furthermore, there's the issue of the lecture itself - very few people, let alone students, have the attention to absorb all the content of a two hour lecture.
Through technology, we find an answer in the rise of snackable learning, which we provide an introduction to here. Essentially, by making content readily available and easily accessible, knowledge retention can rise by 80-90%.
Create More Training Time
It's fair to assume that some lessons stick better than others. Everyone remembers the seminar with the teacher who told obscure life stories, but do you remember what the Wednesday morning class covered that week? Unlikely. Unfortunately, creating learning that sticks needs more than a pretty slideshow. How can we find more training time and deliver stickable learning?
In training, we see teams spending significant amounts of time in areas unrelated to training - mainly administration and clerical work. Creating a streamlined and efficient process for paperwork is increasingly key for the modern training organisation, and through training management systems, providers can generate additional training time. This allows for more input into training methods and content, and better results for the organisation.
Of course, it is possible to run a successful training company or education insitution without one. However, with the growth of new age training providers, the chances are that these days are numbered.
The Danger of Standing Still
Founded by Xavier Niel, 42 is a coding school with a difference. There's no teachers or trainers. No books. No tuition. Just students, the tools to learn, and each other.
Encouraging peer to peer learning, 42 is entirely reliant on students teaching each other and collaborating to solve problems. While this could be regarded as an extreme version of active learning, consider the weight that this type of system puts on the administration function of the team. From tracking attainment to QA, it becomes a near impossible challenge. 42 may be an edge case, yet with globally expanding operations, it could be a sign of the future to come. Successful training companies will be those that facilitate learning the most efficiently, and help the right students connect with each other. Making these connections will only ever be achieved through a flexible training system, capable of rapid evolution.
Consider your training, and how flexible your delivery is at present. What steps can you take to start planning for the future? Why not incorporate more active learning components into your program, and see how results compare with your existing methods? Perhaps there could be an opportunity for you to become the 42 of your industry!
Evaluate How Time Is Used
Technology has fundamentally changed how students interact with course content. Ever stuck a bit of gum to the underside of a desk? Well, even if you won't admit it, chances are one of your friends and colleagues will have. Unfortunately, getting a student to stick to their desk and work in the conventional way is far more difficult. That's not the fault of the learner, it's the fault of trainers who can't accommodate different learning styles. Whether you're teaching digital natives or digital immigrants, the role of the trainer remains the same - to make learning engaging, informative and accessible.
In order to achieve these goals, a trainer should look to utilise the full extent of their resources. Flexible working has been extensively shown to boost productivity, and the same can be true in training. Flexibility breeds happiness, and in the words of Evernote CEO Phil Libin;
“The only way you can get people to do more is to make them relatively happy.”
Changing the environment can be a great catalyst for boosting morale. Consider getting your students out into the field, and give them the chance to bridge from theory into practice. For kinaesthetic learners, this can be especially helpful as it helps them process information they may otherwise struggle with. Concerned that you won't be able to access your resources from a remote location? There's no shortage of apps to help you store the documents you'll need in advance, and if you've forgot something, use your phone to get a laptop online in seconds.
Prepare For The Future
While technology has yet to replace the teacher, our choice of teacher has never been greater. With webinars and online colleges enabling learning in a self directed format, trainers must provide engaging content worthy of student's time. To achieve success, trainers need to review how they approach their training, and experiment with new methods. The training industry is in a state of change, as it moves from knowledge distribution to knowledge facilitation. By remaining flexible to new methods and systems, your training will continue to add value in an increasingly peer to peer world.
Track Your Time
How often do you finish work and wonder where the day went? To make sure the day doesn't slip away, we've produced a time tracker with an easy to use assessment guide! Enter your details below to get your free copy (and keep a close eye on that paperwork time!):