"Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn."

This quote underscores the timeless wisdom of Ben Franklin, as well as the modern wisdom of many of the speakers and experts who attended TICE, the Training Industry Conference & Expo (#TICE2016).

In fact, discussion about the best ways to involve employees so they learn was at the core of almost every session I attended at the show. As Doug Harward, CEO of Training industry Inc., noted in the conference kickoff session, "Corporate trainers must think of ourselves as difference makers; but how do we help employees become difference makers for their organizations as well?"

There are many answers to Harward's question, but a common solution I heard at TICE involved the power of technology to increase engagement and maximize performance among corporate learners. Here is a recap of some of the top challenges and solutions discussed at TICE to help corporate trainers meet the needs of today's digitally-savvy corporate learners.

Challenges:

  • Real-Time Reinforcement. Many organizations struggle to ensure consistent employee performance. As such, training must include elements of real-time reinforcement and support. For sales training in particular, technology can facilitate knowledge repositories that can be updated continuously, thus providing employees with immediate and actionable intelligence that can be applied uniformly throughout the organization.
  • Skills Training for Trainers. As virtual training increases, so too does the requirement for instructors to learn new presentation skills for delivering their material remotely and in a way that maximizes engagement.
  • Meeting Expectations of Modern Employees. Ron Zamir, CEO of Allen Communications discussed the consumerization of learning, in that employees deserve to consume professional learning in the same way they consume information personally. In his session, 'Marketing Meets Training: Lessons L&D Can Learn from Marketing' he explained, "Our employees are our customers: there is no difference today between who we sell to (customers) and who we rely on (employees)." Organizations must engage their employees in learning, regardless of modality, and make them feel like an empowered part of the learning process.

Best Practices and Technology Solutions:

  • Video, Mobile, Millennials. Video has emerged as the dominant approach to learning in mobile environments. Video is the preferred choice for Millennials, and since almost 90% of Millennials have their smartphones constantly at their side (as reported by Michelle Eggleston, Editorial Director for Training Industry, Inc.), it behooves organizations to incorporate mobile and video learning into their training programs.
  • LMS Evolution. Traditional LMS' have evolved to more technologically advanced, cloud-based, SaaS platforms. One of the benefits of this evolution is improved learning analytics which help determine the impact and ROI of learning in the organization.
  • Bootcamp Education Models. Physical fitness bootcamps whip people into shape quickly with immersive and intensive focus on an end result. A similar approach can work for corporate learning and training, as evidenced by a keynote from Chris Bivona and Jason Strand in which they explained The Iron Yard's 12 week coding bootcamp, which emphasizes progression and mastery as a means to expedite learning in a particular discipline.
  • Blended Classrooms. Hugh McCullen, President of MicroTek, discussed a model for blending the physical and virtual classroom in his session, 'Next Generation Classroom: Providing the Ultimate Learning Experience.' He recommended leveraging technology and training approaches that work well for both classroom and remote learners, highlighting video and interactive content – and a personal touch as well. For example, MicroTek offered fresh-baked cookies and milk to classroom learners, but quickly found that remote learners felt left out. To facilitate equal engagement among remote and classroom learners, MicroTek began sending tins of cookies to virtual learners -- a simple solution to ensure that everyone felt engaged in the culture and classroom experience.

Is technology the sole solution for understanding how to better engage learners? No, I think it's technology in combination with other key factors, including learner engagement, instructor empowerment, quality content, and organizational commitment. And, as Hugh McCullen demonstrated, cookies and milk always enhance employee engagement, whether remotely or in the classroom. 

 

------------------------------------------

Dory Schrader is currently serving as Chief Marketing Officer for Metrodigi. She is a marketing leader with more than 15 years' experience in strategic product marketing and sales management leadership roles. She's demonstrated success developing and establishing market-leading brands and award-winning products, and growing global sales in large, mid-sized, and small organizations. Read more about Dory, including testimonials from former colleagues and clients, on LinkedIn.