I have noticed over the past few weeks that newspapers from around the country have been focusing on stories about social media and its widespread use and influence around the world. Be it an argument of the appropriateness of Twitter in a courtroom or how social media helped the people of Egypt revolt against their leader Hosni Mubarak, it is clear that social media in today’s society has hit its stride and continues to gain momentum. The way people communicate, teach, and learn has never been so heavily influenced by the internet and social media tools as it is today.
With all of this focus on how social media is changing the way we interact, communicate and learn I started to wonder; how does social media affect the way businesses are educating and training their employees? Predictions for 2011 indicate that there will be a larger focus on online training and development in organizations around the world and companies will be spending large parts of their annual budget on eLearning programs, blended learning courses and the like. With the ever-changing way we use the internet and social media tools to function in all aspects of our lives, how can businesses ensure they not only create a cost-effective training program, but create courses and programs that are relevant to the way people learn today?
Here are some thoughts about today’s learner:
- Learners have changed the way they access information. No longer do people spend time in libraries, looking up information in text books or manuals. Can you remember a time when you couldn’t answer a question within seconds? Ease of access to information and the ability to “Google it” allows learners of today to find any answer they need without a trip to the archives or the library.
- Learners tend to scan over information to find the information they are looking for. The evolved learner has a keen ability to search out relevant information in text and move past information they don’t need.
- Learners access information from anywhere at any time. Mobile devices, laptops and WiFi make it especially easy for people to get information on demand and when it is convenient for them.
What does that mean for organizations looking to educate and train employees? It simply means that whatever learning tools and methods organizations have used in the past must evolve, just as the learner has evolved. Organizations have to embrace the adoption of social media, social learning and technology driven education and adapt their training and
development program to meet the needs of the learner. Anything else would be a waste of training dollars and other resources.
Here are some points to consider when planning your corporate training programs and courses:
- Understand that learners have evolved from the days of power point presentations and overhead projectors. Develop training content that can either be accessed via social media tools or that provide similar functions (like search functions, bookmarking tools, etc.)
- Have content available to the learners so that they may access it when it is convenient for them. Learners will most likely read training material on the bus or at the coffee shop if they are required to learn outside of office hours. Many learners prefer to learn on the go as oppose to sitting at a desk for an hour or two a day. Develop content that can be accessed via mobile phone, laptop and desktop to ensure all learning preferences can be accommodated.
- Keep the course content relevant and concise. As mentioned earlier, learners have the ability to search only for the information they require and will disregard anything else.
As with anything these days, the way learners access information and use it changes rapidly. The tools learners are using today will most definitely be different tomorrow. Developing content for eLearning or any other form of corporate training should be designed with this constant evolution in mind. Content that can be easily accessed, is well organized, and can adapt with ever changing technology will ensure you and your learners get the most out of your training dollars.
Are you planning on implementing new training programs in your organization? How will you address the evolution of your learners?