The ubiquitous nature of computing and technology has brought the world to a point where technology is “must have and must use” even if there is no direct correlation to learning. However, according to Kumpikaitė and Čiarnienė “there is emerging evidence that new technologies are related to improvements in productivity” however they go on to acknowledge that such productivity cannot be solely attributed to the use of technology since it is important “to consider human resource management and development issues due to their mediating effects on the relationship between new technology and productivity” (p. 155, 2008).
In exploring training technologies, I will be looking at:-
- Virtual Reality
- Mobile learning
- Blended Learning
- Social Media
Herremans in a submission on New Training Technologies (NTTs) indicated that “the decision to use one or more NTTs, and which ones, is essential because once the decision has been taken it will have an impact on the teaching/learning process for many years” (p. 27, 1995). While this submission is over two decades old I find it still relevant especially within the context of my submission with regards to how the technologies impact how people learn and interact, and the implications of this for training.
The use of Virtual reality (VR) to simulate a work environment and allow the trainee to “modify the environment” at little to no risk to life and property is quite appealing and is being used extensively in the field of medicine and in training astronauts for example. With the developments in devices for VR, there are many possibilities, however, the cost of these devices also means that a number of areas where it may be useful for instance cannot afford to implement VR just yet as a mode of training. If the hurdle of cost and also issues with disoriented trainees can be managed, then VR will make a huge impact.
Mobile Learning – According to a Pew Internet Research, for mobile device users in America, “a substantial majority of smartphone owners feel that these devices are helpful rather than annoying, connecting rather than distracting and that they represent freedom rather than a leash” (Smith, 2015). Meanwhile, according to Ericsson “By 2020 80 percent of all mobile data traffic will come from smartphones” with “70 percent of the world’s population using smartphones” (2015). This just means that the underlying infrastructure already exists for mobile learning and trainers can take advantage of this by providing some relevant amount of the training through mobile devices. As indicated by Noe, “for mobile learning to be effective, it needs to be short, easy to use, and meaningful” (p. 346, 2013). Mobile learning can be used to deliver, podcast, videos and other relevant learning materials which can be appropriately accessed and supported on the mobile devices. In the absence of these considerations, mobile learning can be stressful. I have not enjoyed using the Blackboard mobile app simply because each time I have to log on as opposed to other platforms which will store my password with a one-time login. In that effect, it is more convenient to access learning resources via the web interface.
Blended Learning is one approach I use quite well as a teacher. I have regular classroom instruction but I extend the learning space to the online environment and in the use of simulations. In particular, due to limited contact time, I extend a lot of the discussions online. The response is great and I find that students interact and give constructive feedback thereby taking ownership of their learning. However, if this is not planned deliberately with clear learning outcomes, it can be a burden and the convergence and synthesis will be lost completely. Blended learning can be problematic in this sense because t may lead to little to no support leaving trainees overwhelmed.
Social Media can be leveraged, within blended learning. There are a number of social media platforms such as Edmodo which is like Facebook for education. Another approach is just as I am doing now as in blogging. For younger trainees, this can be advantageous since this is already an environment they thrive well in and are natives of. Social media can be used to provide a lot of informal learning and also share knowledge.
In conclusion, technology if used purposefully can lead have a meaningful impact on learning transfer in training.
Ericsson. (2015). Ericsson Mobility Report: 70 percent of world’s population using smartphones by 2020. In Ericsson. Retrieved from https://www.ericsson.com/news/1925907
Herremans, A. (1995). New Training Technologies. Retrieved from http://www.unesco.org/education/pdf/23_90.pdf#page=29
Noe, R. A. (2013). Employee training and development (6th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill
Smith, A. (2015, April ). U.S. Smartphone Use in 2015. In Pew Research Center. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/04/01/us-smartphone-use-in-2015/
Vilmante Kumpikaite & Ramune Čiarniene. (2008). New training technologies and their use in training and development activities: Survey evidence from Lithuania. Journal of Business Economics and Management, 9:2, 155-159