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Pushing String … adopting new technology

Many organizations are faced with investment decisions related to new information technology, including how to best support a corporate on-line training program. Many organizations struggle with where to begin and how to assess risk. A sound analysis needs to reflect barriers to implementing innovation, assessing risks, and strategic management of these risks. Though the decision may be cost-effective, significant effort must be expended for successful technology implementation, and organizational readiness and business culture must be taken into account.

Research supports the importance of properly preparing for change. Bates (2005) states that “merely replacing one technology with a newer technology does not necessarily bring learning benefits if the teaching method stays the same” (as cited in Fahy, 2007, p. 48). Murgatroyd (1992) agrees when he states “technological innovation is not valuable for its own sake; it is only valuable if it adds value to an existing service” (p.123).

Some of the barriers to implementing a new system include institutional momentum, added employee workload, inexperience with technology, loss of knowledge leverage by senior employees, turf protection, employee fear related to job loss, comfort with existing methods or technologies, lack of proven track record, and significant investment in existing technology modes (Kaplan and Norton, 2004; Kendall, 1998; Murgatroyd, 1992). For employees, it usually means more work, coupled with the fear that they have not had adequate input into the change, or a true understanding of the effect that this change will have.

Considering Havelock’s (1973, as cited in Fahy, 2007, p.8) observation that change is simply not wanted by many people, an organization may take on a significant risk in failing to adequately prepare instructors to incorporate software into their pedagogy. Indeed, instructors may very well view this innovation (as described by Greenspan (2000) and cited in Fahy, 2007, p.21) as a “Labour-delivering device and certainly not a Labour-saving one”. Sometimes a company stake their claim on the old adage, ‘if you build it, they will come’.

Fahy (2007) espouses that technology itself is less a barrier to change than is possessing a limited vision to use technology to create new educational environments. McKenzie (1991 as cited in Fahy 2007, p.70) says that “2-3 years is needed to allow time to produce skill transfer”. Time is an important factor in planning for substantial change, but equally important is the development of a shared vision between leadership and instructors that it is important to proactively incorporate technology into teaching pedagogy and practice.

References

Bates, A.W. (2005). Technology, e-learning and distance education. (2nd Edition), Routledge, New York, USA.

Fahy, P.J. (2007). Advanced Technology for Distance Education and Training. Athabasca, AB. Athabasca University.

Kaplan, R.S. & Norton, D.P. (2004). Strategy maps: converting intangible assets into tangible outcomes. Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation, USA.

Kendall, G.I. (1997). Securing the future: strategies for exponential growth using the theory of constraints. CRC Press LLC, USA

Murgatroyd, S. (1992). Business, education and distance education. In M.G. Moore (ed.), Distance education for corporate and military training p. 50-63. (Readings in Distance Education, no.3). Pennsylvania State University, USA.

Social Networks Effects in Training and Education

At the recent Moodlemoot 2013, a user conference for the Moodle learning management system, Terry Anderson and Jon Dron, of Athabasca University, talked about the constraints of current day learning management systems and the impacts of social media.

Social media, helps to address a person’s need to belong to “groups, nets and sets”, as Anderson and Dron call them. A learner’s motivation to acquire new knowledge is affected by the opportunities that exist, both formally and informally. Learners are getting their information from Wikipedia, Google and the like, and from this developing ideas or concepts about the world around them. Though this is pooh-poohed by the established educational institutions, it is the reality of today and will only grow. For dedicated learners, the use of the web is simply a portal or entry point, not the final destination.

To ignore the importance of influence that society has on who has opportunities to be educated would be unwise. The actions that individuals take are influenced by the social environment in which they exist in. They are also affected by the people they interact with, their personal belief systems, the accessibility to educational opportunities (both formal and informal ones), and their economic position within society. A learner’s mind is shaped by the surrounding environment… and social media is changing the face of formal educational constructs and perspectives.

Stewart (1987) supplements the above position by re-asserting the original four assumptions by Eduard Lindeman which were that:

  1. education is life – not a mere preparation for an unknown kind of future living,
  2. adult education revolves around non-vocational ideal,
  3. the approach to adult education will be via the route of situations, not subjects, and
  4. the resource of highest value in adult education is the learner’s experience.

For example, a learner may have a need to diagnose a problem with their washing machine, and perhaps by finding a video on the web produced by a local appliance repair company, this information enables them to fix it themselves. At the very least, this home-made video, will enable the learner to ask more questions or seek out more and better information.

However having walked through “information web portals” and “friending” on social networks, a problem soon appears, the availability of higher quality information for the average person. Open information is not really open, as in most cases, various research papers cost money to view and download. Openness to high quality information is not the reality, as openness to lower grade information is more of the case.

But on a day to day basis is this a problem, perhaps “low” is the way to go? Volumes of lower quality information need to be sifted and sorted. This is naturally done by the process of “social networking”, where the most number of “likes” indicates the most valuable or usable resources. It is up to  the learner as to determine value and not the instructor, as normally done in a formal educational setting. Are educational institutions or corporate training departments facing a crisis over control, where the pepdgogoical dogma will be circumvented by more populist approaches to learning?

The answer is of course they will be,  we used to call them newstands and magazine racks!

Enough with “old school” training…

Welcome to Two Point Oh!

Are you  sold on “old school” workshops where the instructor drones on about their life experience? Do you wonder how you’re going to catch up work? It may have been a good networking experience, but did I really learn anything that I can apply in reality?

Your organization may have already adopted some “in the can” on-line training, to meet certain regulations. It certainly is cost efficient, but is it effective? Was it just another digital slide show with sub-titles? Did you begin to ask yourself when can I do the quiz and be done with this?

The move away from traditional class room training has been happening for some time now. There have been significant strides made in information technology, particularly in the delivery of high resolution media via the internet and software development to delivery educational content to the learner. But ensuring that the learning experience delivers what you expect, requires something that is centred around the learner and designed to achieve results.

Our objective is to develop e-learning programs that will produce positive results for your organization. We can identify gaps in your corporate learning strategy and present tangible solutions for implementation. We also work with training suppliers to re-design their current “face to face” training so that it can adapt to the an e-learning environment.

We can help you create meaningful e-learning solutions for your organization’s training programs. We are here to introduce you to the reality that well designed e-learning solutions produce superior results compared to “old school” training.

Get in touch with Two Point Oh! at info@tpo-training.com