Our New Reality: Embracing Technology in Learning

When I was growing up, we actually used telephones to speak to one another. When I wanted to make plans with someone, I called them. If I didn’t know someone’s phone number, I looked it up in the phone book. My parents forbid me to dial 411. And typically, when I called my friends, someone at their house answered the phone!

Fast forward to the world my kids are growing up in. Everyone has a cell phone, but nobody actually uses a phone to call, unless of course it is FaceTime. If there is a party, someone starts a GroupMe. If they have questions about homework, they text each other. I hardly ever see my kids actually speak on the phone to any of their contemporaries. My daughter wrote a research paper with three other students using Google Docs. They met face-to-face twice, but spent the bulk of their time writing the paper on their own. Since it was a shared document, they could see real time what each person was doing to the paper. This scenario would have been impossible when I was in high school.

While I have to admit that sometimes these new rules drive me a bit bonkers, I’ve come to realize that this use of technology, in particular our smartphones, is our new reality, so I must embrace it. Smartphones have severely impacted our lives, from how we socialize to how we make purchases to how we maintain our health. Most of us (and not just my kids) are glued to our smartphones.

As learning professionals, we must ensure that the learning solutions we create take advantage of this new reality. Below are a few ways to incorporate technology into your learning solutions.

Go social. Employees today want to engage at work in the same ways they do in their personal lives. We need to educate organizations on the value that social components bring to learning. In fact, social learning amplifies the rate at which we can share information and ask questions. We need to help debunk common misconceptions that social learning is the same as social media. Many companies have been slow to adopt social learning, and those that have report that it is not all that effective. Often this sentiment is due to the fact that they are not truly committed to social learning, and therefore have not invested in the best tools.

Incorporate video. Our appetite for video has grown exponentially. My kids barely watch television anymore. They simply watch videos on YouTube. Tablet usage has soared, and we’re watching digital video more than ever. We should be leveraging video as a top choice to deliver learning.

Videos created for learning don’t necessarily need to be professionally produced either. Simply recording a video of someone performing a specific task can quickly be dispensed as a learning tool. Even using a quick authoring tool to create a whiteboard-style video animation is easy to create and provides a compelling way to tell a story.

Use Snapchat as a learning tool. I didn’t know what Snapchat was until I saw my kids taking funny pictures with their smartphones and posting them. While the concept seems a little strange, if we want to be effective in the digital world, we could try using Snapshot to facilitate learning. How? Here are a few ideas:

  • Use it for a question and answer session by posting answers to questions in Snapchat.
  • Ask participants to create Snapchat stories about a success where they applied some key learning.
  • Create Snapchat stories as reminders to participants to help sustain the learning or generate interest.
  • Create Snapchat stories about your work as a way to keep your team informed.

Research tells us that by 2025, Millennials will make up 75% of the workforce, so to continue to be a relevant learning professional, my plan is to continue learning from my kids!

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