Training: Right Place, Right Time, Right Format
Everyone is looking to solve this problem. The ultimate solution rests in a partnership between designers/developers and technology product providers. Design alone can only be effective to a certain point. At some point designers must rely on technology to scale up their designs. But technology can also only do so much. No technology product will solve all of the designers problems and fulfill every wish. The real skill for the designer is to get comfortable with the constraints of technology and learn to design within those constraints while the technology product team continues to expand the limits of those constraints.
As we look back on the world of training before the collaborative internet, mobile devices, wearables, and the internet of things, there was only ONE of each: One right place, one right time, and one right format. All training was conducted in a classroom with a teacher and students at a predetermined time with paper guides created for the teacher and handouts for the students. Despite the fact that learning has always occurred in other more informal ways, the classroom course has always been the de facto corporate standard of training. And in many cases it still is. But many more are changing their ways and beginning to embrace new technology to deliver more complete, and more effective, learning solutions.
The Right Place
Technology has given us the ability to choose where we learn. And this has been a difficult transition for training designers/developers. The right place to engage with learning content is different for everyone. The place could mean different physical locations: A construction worker may find time during lunch relaxing on a roof top to view a 5 min learning module. The right place could also mean different enterprise applications: A sales person will want their learning integrated within Salesforce.com. Where a person is located and where their workflow resides are 2 different places learners expect to get what they need.
The construction worker may need to get re-certified in certain types of building codes. He/She used to take a day off the job to attend a day long classroom based training course. Now with the use of his mobile phone and a well designed course he can consume the content over time from his car, in a house, or even on a roof, or anywhere else he/she has a connection.
The Right Time
The legacy training systems in the classroom have never been able to address this issue. The only hope was handing out large manuals, and other documentation for learners to keep on their desk as a reference guide when “the right time” came. The immediacy of the internet, and mobile devices with us 24/7 solve this problem. Right at the moment of need you have a device that can search for an answer, or connect you with someone who can help, almost instantaneously. Time is no longer a problem when your training content is mobile accessible.
The Right Format
The right format isn’t only about technology formats like .pdf, .mov, or .wav. The right format also means the right media. Does your learner need a video right now? Or would they rather spend some time reading something on the topic they wish to understand? Language barriers often make reading materials useless for certain audiences. Something simple as watching animations or videos showing a process or a procedure can often make the difference between success and failure. Choose your medium wisely, and make sure the technology you choose to deliver the content is widely supported.
Technology continues to disrupt major markets and change our culture, and the world, in so many ways. It also empowers us to finally deliver learning content to learners at the right place, at just the right time, and in the right format. Instead of one classroom course taught over and over again to different audiences, we can deliver the same content redesigned for different devices, at any time, in different formats depending on the learner’s needs.