Thursday, April 5, 2012

Technology in Training

With all of these new technologies that are being used to “enhance” trainings it is easy to see how people can being to rely on them instead of the actual training to teach learners. But when it comes to teaching and learning, technology should be used practically to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of a training (Stolovitch & Keeps, 2011). If you are using technology to make your training look good or up to date there is a good chance you are doing a disservice to your learners and the training itself. “New technologies have made it possible to reduce the costs associated with delivering training to employees, to increase the effectiveness of the learning environment, and to help training contribute to business goals” (Noe, 2010). In my blog I will highlight the positive impact several of these technologies have had on training.

Digital Collaboration
Digital collaboration as defined by Elliot Massie, of the Massie Center as “the uses of technology to enhance and extend the abilities of individuals and organizations to collaborate, independent of their vertical area” (Salopek, 2000).  It is basically using online forms of communication to teach, learn and share ideas. “Digital collaboration includes electronic messaging systems, electronic meeting systems, online communities of learning organized by subject where employees can access interactive discussion areas and share training content and Web links, and document-handling systems  with collaborative technologies that allow interpersonal interactions” (Noe, 2010). By utilizing some form of digital collaboration technology people can come together from every corner of the globe and share with and learn from each other. The former idea of collaborating involved people gathering in a place to reach a common goal. “But as technology and the digital world evolve, the word place achieves new meaning” (Salopek, 2000).
  • Linux is a place where professionals can come together from all over the world to work on open source code.
  • in a place where “contractors, suppliers, and engineers can buy and sell products and services as well as exchange blueprints, designs, and other data to cut building time.
  • 5 classrooms in Baltimore, India, and China are a place where students can discuss the currency exchange by using videoconferencing technology.  

Virtual Worlds
There are several different providers of virtual worlds on the internet; Second Life, ProtoSphere, Forterra and Virtual Heroes. The most widely used is Second Life. “The multi-user, high graphical fidelity, multimodal nature of SL creates many affordances for teaching and learning” (Mayrath, 2010).  A multitude of schools and organizations have used SL for its “computer-based, simulated online virtual world that includes a three-dimensional representation of real World” to “host learning programs or experiences” (Noe, 2010).  SL is free and designed to not only provide a place where people can role play, but also collaborate with people from around the world, generate 3-D models, and publish their work in multiple forms of media (Mayrath, 2010). Second Life has offered platforms for training and learning in several ways for several organizations:  Stapoil has a oil platform they use for safety training, Harvard University hosts law courses and “British Petroleum uses Second Life to train new gas station employees in the safety features of gasoline storage tanks and piping systems” (Noe, 2010).  

Global Kids (2007) listed the following as the Best Practices for Using SL for Real World Education:
  • let students play, explore and have fun
  • have a backup plan
  • plan for things taking longer than expected
  • use the multiple forms of communication in SL
  • plan on students having different skill levels
  • teacher becomes facilitator, students become peer mentor
  • scale projects to fit resources
  • use SL for distance collaborations
  • give students opportunities to build relationships online
  • use web 2.0 affordances

Virtual worlds can be a great asset to training because they can imitate real world environments. This allows learners to try their hand at new skills without it resulting in real life consequences or costs. “Virtual worlds can also be useful for teaching interpersonal skills such as time management, communications, leadership, and working under pressure” (Noe, 2010). Much like digital collaboration, virtual worlds allow people to learn from across the world.

Intelligent Tutoring Systems
There are three types of environments for this artificial intelligence based instructional system: tutoring, coaching, and empowering (Noe, 2010). These systems are designed to teach each student based on their individual abilities. These ITSs are “designed to provide appropriate lessons to individuals based on his/her background knowledge level, interest and learning style and assimilation rate prior to using the tutoring system” (Marion & Oluwafunmilayo, 2011).

Intelligent tutoring systems can do the following things that make them a great asset to many trainings:
  • match instruction to individual student needs
  • communicate and respond to student
  • model the trainees learning process
  • decide what information to provide
  • make decisions about the trainee’s level of understanding
  • modify teaching process based on assessments   (Noe, 2011)

Mobile Technology
This type of technology is great because it basically allows you to take your learning everywhere. If there is Wi-Fi, Bluetooths, PDAs, tablets, laptops and any other mobile device you have mobile technology! There are so many ways that we can use these mobile devices for training, learning and sharing information. Aside from accessing the internet from these devices, listening to podcasts, or reading articles, there are companies that are going a step further. “Some companies are using PDAs as their primary method for delivering training or as a follow-up to training programs delivered face-to-face or online” (Noe, 2011). Tyco International is using this technology to teach sales technicians to set the burglar alarms and Capital One is using iPods for the audio components of their Capital One University classes (Noe, 2011).  IBM has also created a “Mobile Blue Pages” which is “an internal company directory suited for IBM’s mobile sellers, consultants, technologists, managers, and executives and can be accessed via a mobile browser” (Ahmad & Orton, 2010). But a good thing to remember is that just because people can access multiple things from a mobile device does not mean they will. IBM thought that they would be able to have their 25,000 employee-development mini-courses being accessed by their workers from their PDAs, but in actuality employees were using their smartphones almost exclusively for in-field performance support and to access late breaking information (Ahmad & Orton, 2010).  Other information that was learned in this study:

  • usability is crucial for the adoption of mobile phone applications
  • employees prefer less information and options from their mobile phones
  • users will quit an application that takes too long to load
  • the ability to locate others quickly in a time of need increased users perception of their job performance 
I just read that people are more likely to turn around and go back home if they forgot their cell phone than if they forgot their money. This statement is a strong one, being constantly tethered to technology is our present and future. So mobile technology is here to stay and will only become more and more user friendly.

Web 2.0
The internet is very social now, with creating and consuming information an everyday activity for many users. Web 2.0 is a great resource to use in classrooms and in some training situations. “Web 2.0 services have the potential to enhance student-centered learning be facilitating collaboration and communication at little cost” (Cheon, 2010).  This technology allows us to use Facebook pages, youtube videos, synchronous editing, video conferencing, and many of the other technologies I have already mentioned. But many teachers may be proficient in the popular Web 2.0 services “they may lack exposure to the different types of Web 2.0 services and may not have been taught how to employ new technology in teaching and learning” (Cheon, 2010). “Adding information access and collaboration opportunities, especially back on the job following formal training, is one good approach” (Stolovitch & Keeps, 2011).
As for the future of Web 2.0 in training and teaching its services “constitute a new pedagogical paradigm that makes students a central part of the learning press. The K-12 classroom is filling with a new generation of learners labeled “digital natives”(Prensky, 2001)” (Cheon, 2010). These students are knowledgeable about these technologies, they are creators and contributors (Cheon, 2010). So teachers and trainers will have to be technologically savvy as well.

These are just some of the technologies that are out there that can have a major impact on your training and teaching. But remember “media and technology can substantially improve the efficiency of training and learning, which is extremely important. However, they have little to no impact on the effectiveness of learning” (Stolovitch & Keeps, 2011).

Ahmad, N., & Orton, P. (2010). Smartphones make IBM smarter, but not as expected. Training and Development, 64(1), 46–50.

Cheon, J., Song, J., Jones, D., Nam, K. (2010). Influencing preservice teacher’ intention to adopt web 2.0 services. Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education. 27(2), 53-64.

Global Kids. (2007). An educational non-profit’s history of the teen grid: Global Kid’s adventure in best practices. Second Life Community Convention. Retrieved February 8, 2009 from Best practices using second life for real world education:

Marion, A. & Oluwafunmilayo, A. (2011). Design and development of an intelligent instructive system. Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education. 12(4), 34-44.

Mayrath, M., Traphagan, T., Jarmon, L., Trivedi, A., Resta, P. (2010). Teaching with virtual worlds: Factors to consider for instructional use of second life. Journal of Educational Computing Research. 43(4), 403-444.

Noe, R. A. (2010). Employee training and development (5th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Salopek, J. (2000). Digital collaboration. Training and Development. 54(6), 38.

Stolovitch, H. D., & Keeps, E. J. (2011). Telling ain’t training. Alexandria, VA: ASTD Press.


  1. This is a nice analysis of the role these technologies can play in supporting training. I think you have identified how these tools can be used to support learning, transfer and performance support. One of the potential challenges with using these resources that I have noticed is that many people have limited access to them in the workplace. For example, some organizations block YouTube or limit access to mobile devices. This is often out of concerns that employees will waste time or security concerns (Hanson, 2011). What would you say to an organization that was hesitant to use web 2.0 tools for learning?

    Hanson, A. (2011, July 25). “Why 54% of companies are still blocking social media–and why they should stop?” Communications Conversations. Retrieved April 6, 2012 from

  2. Alexis,

    It is really time for these companies to see that limiting learning because you are limiting access is not the best route to take. I understand the security concerns and with proper software I think that can be managed. But if a company is blocking because of productivity concerns, the reality is you can use facebook, watch youtube, and so on from almost any smartphone from almost anywhere. "Companies that allow users to access Facebook in the workplace lose an average of 1.5% in total employee productivity" (Gaudin, 2009). But stack that against how much productivity you are losing by limiting the use of Web 2.0 tools in the work place. In my eyes the tradeoff is well worth it. Yes, there will be people who abuse the system, as there are with any and all things. There are people who waste time in the bathroom, but we cannot just remove them as well (Okay, that one was a bit much, but you get my drift).

    So that is my simple argument!

    Gauldin, S. (2009)."Study: Facebook use cuts productivity at work." retrieved on April 7, 2012 from

  3. That's a good point Dani. The issue is not the technology it is the way staff are managed.

  4. Hi Dani,

    Near the beginning of you post you suggest that training should not be used to simply make the “training
    Look good”. I agree whole heartily. Some companies fall into the trap of thinking that including new technology will make them appear up to date and that the use of technology alone will engage its employees. Instead companies should take time to compare the advantages and disadvantages of each tool to ensure that the chosen technology will fit into the organizations culture and business strategy, while meeting the needs of the employees (Noe, 2010).

    Noe, R. A. (2010). Employee training and development (5th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill

  5. Denna

    I could not agree with you more! It is a waste of money and usually learners' time to include unneeded technologies.

  6. Dani,
    I liked your opening comment regarding the use of technology to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of a company's training. I liked your new meaning for the word "place" in our digital age. Thank you for sharing those best practices for using Second Life with students from the Global Kids' article. You made a good observation that virtual worlds can be a great asset to training by imitating real world environments and problems.

    Of the three types of intelligent tutoring systems you discussed, which do you feel has the most potential for training in the future? You made a good observation that just because people can access multiple resources at any time in any place, it doesn't mean they will. As a designer/trainer how do we promote the use of mobile devices? I would agree with your comment that the Web 2.0 has created a "new pedagogical paradigm that makes the student a central part of the learning process". I would concur that educators need to become technologically savvy in order to integrate technology into their curriculum and motivated today's digital natives. You made a very good point to Alexis that not limiting access to the Internet in the workplace has more advantages than disadvantages. Very informative post this week, good work.