Something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is how digital has completely changed the world. That’s nothing new, it’s been self-evident for the last 5 years with the rise of social networking sites, brands doing more and more of their business on line, customer contact centres having complete on line presence, speeds of internet connectivity now at 50MB, and much more activity that I’m neglecting to mention.
In and of itself this excites me. This has to do with me being a techno geek. Not a true geek that understands jargon, but more to do with being excited about what the technology enables us to do. As was said in a talk I heard recently (by Ian Jindal in a talk about xxx), users of the internet don’t care how it works, they just want it to work so they can get on and do what they enjoy – surfing, buying, chatting, etc.
What is that excites me? I guess just the way technology is advancing so much now that you really can’t imagine life without our mod-cons. I can recall how things used to be done via memo, then fax, then emails, then instant messaging and now real time updates. Other technological advances went from VHS – Videoplus (which I loved by the way!) – DVD players – VHS and DVD in one players and now blu-ray players. Each new thing was more exciting and life made easy than the last. And that trend is only continuing for the better.
So I’m brought back to how it makes a difference in the world of L&D. Well at first glance L&D has tried to keep up with technology. All training executed pretty much through PPT now. Knowledge management systems were being implemented in organisations throughout the 90s. Computer Based Training has been around for many years – technical and behavioural skills. Online learning has been happening for at least the last 4-5 years with more and more people requiring 24/7 access to training materials. Wikis are now being used to be a storage hold of information. Psychometric tests have been available on-line since the turn of the milennia. Looking at this, we’ve done a good job no?
Absolutely we have! But is that what digital is about? I don’t think it should be restricted to it. L&D is one of those professions where if it doesn’t keep up with what technology has to offer, it will fall by the wayside. So what else should we be considering? Well one of the great things about being an online world is the amount of information and data available to us. But why’s that important? You can find information on demographics, political influence, internet usage, community centres, pretty much any statistic you could need, is available somewhere. That’s important to an L&Der because we have to work with current and correct information. It’s what gives us insight into the behaviour of the people we work with which in turn allows us to develop and deliver insightful and effective interventions.
See the essence of an L&Der isn’t about delivering training on Assertiveness Skills. It’s about knowing the behaviours of the person who needs it, what their likely social patterns are driven by, what their work environment means for them, and developing those skills with that individual so they can recognise and make a definite plan about how to be assertive. In part that comes from good questioning and good facilitation from the L&Der. I believe though there’s a wealth of information that digital makes available, that in the absence of that information you could be missing important information which helps you develop your expertise and experience and delivery style.
There’s no replacement for face to face training – regardless of the topic. But we can use a variety of tools at our disposal to engage our audience in a multitude of ways. Create a dedicated company training site, roll out an employee engagement survey, have a Facebook page, Twitter account, yahoogroup. All these (and more) help reach an audience. They also help you as an L&Der be focused on and conscious of trends in the areas you are interested in.
Digital has opened up the possibilities to L&D in a way that like brands have to learn how to engage with their customers, L&Ders have to learn how to hear what people need and want from training. If we’re not listening to those conversations, reading blogs, being on forums, contributing articles, we will lose a rich flow of information.
The best L&Ders are tapped into digital and know they can’t be complacent about such things. Those are the ones you need in your organisation.