Technology in Training - the good, the bad and the utterly pointless

9 May, 2018

Augmented reality, virtual reality, apps, simulators, online learning, mobile learning, animations.  The list goes on.  And on and on if you look hard enough.  But do these new fangled processes really add value to training?

Remember when powerpoint first appeared.  As soon as we discovered animations, those presentations were filled with so many shiny new effects that the audience’s heads were left spinning.  We thought it was pretty cool and would grab their attention.  And it did.  The problem was that it was the effects that were grabbing their attention, not the content.  And the same applies to any new technology.  

I can see great applications for virtual and augmented reality, especially where you are training people in hazardous situations.  You could each someone hw to wire in a blast correctly without being worried that you would initiate an accidental explosion.  But you could also do that with some dummy explosives.  And it would be way cheaper and just as effective.

Online and mobile training has also taken off in recent years.  And online training is great when you have a large audience to deliver too and don’t need a lot of interaction.  But you have to remember that people can’t ask individual  questions in an online training course.  And there is often great value that can be gained from learning off other participants which does not happen with online training.

These are just a couple of examples where technology may, or may not, be the most effective choice for training.  It can be pretty tempting to dive right in and use the latest whiz bang device for your training.  But you should always remember to take a step back back and consider whether the technology will actually make the training better, whether it is an economical alternative and whether the audience will be able to use it.

The most important thing to remember is that technology is simply another tool.  It is never a substitute for good training.