By: Kayla Matthews
Today’s forward-thinking companies know that giving their employees access to ongoing education opportunities is an excellent way to prepare them to deal with changing circumstances in their industries.
Not long ago, workplace training mostly consisted of reading books or attending classes in traditional settings. Now, the training options are much more varied, and they often happen virtually or with help from high-tech equipment.
Technology Brings People Together Despite Geographic Distances
Advancements in technology make it easier than ever for people to work for companies remotely. Research from Owl Labs found that more than half of the global workforce (52%) engages in at least one shift from home every week. This trend makes things convenient for companies that want to broaden their talent pools.
But, training for a team scattered all around the world poses specific challenges. Technology can solve many of them. For example, online conferencing apps let people use equipment they already have — such as webcams and smartphones — to connect with their colleagues and learn with them no matter where they are in the world.
This option allows for real-time collaboration and input from team members that would likely not occur if people did their training separately, without hearing feedback from others. Also, many conferencing apps have chat windows where people can ask questions or weigh in with their thoughts during presentations. That advantage allows trainers to adapt their content based on what attendees say.
Virtual Reality Apps Let Employees Engage in Safe, Cost-Effective Training
One of the goals of many training programs is to get participants ready for situations they may face at work. However, depending on the circumstances, it may be difficult or impossible to realistically expose them to such content.
Virtual reality (VR) is an option that enables companies to give workers relevant material while keeping them safe and maintaining reasonable costs. For example, a Houston-based VR startup counts Mastercard and the U.S Air Force among its clients. While going through its VR simulations, employees learn how to respond to situations like workplace violence or transferring hazardous chemicals.
This approach allows for more immersive learning than that provided by many traditional learning options. Depending on VR also allows companies to avoid costly role-playing scenarios that could temporarily shut down operations at a company.
Tech-Based Training Helps People Get Educated While Continuing to Work
Even the most enthusiastic learners sometimes run into an obstacle regarding ongoing education: They want to expand their skills and knowledge, but perceive it’s not possible to do so while continuing to work. In this case, the desire to learn is at odds with the necessity of earning an income.
Programs are available that let people learn on their schedules and use any device while attending online campuses. Individuals who take part in these classes have access to highly qualified instructors and courses that match their career aspirations. And, because the learning happens anywhere and at any time, those involved can easily earn certificates or take courses without putting their jobs on hold.
Augmented Reality Equips People to Avoid Dangerous Mistakes
Augmented reality (AR) is a type of technology that blends the real-world environment with virtual elements. Some training-centric kinds of AR are ideal for people who need training for risky tasks. For example, surgeons can use AR to assess how to operate on a patient before they make the first incision associated with a procedure.
Surgical professionals in London use a Microsoft product called the HoloLens. The brand deems it a mixed-reality headset. In this instance, surgeons can overlay 3D digital models of previous CT scan images onto a patient’s body part. This, in effect, allows surgeons to “see inside” patients before beginning an operation. They say this kind of information is instrumental in making patient outcomes more successful and avoiding surprises.
Additionally, Honeywell has technology that allows fieldworkers to wear connected glasses that respond to voice commands. While doing their tasks, users can retrieve health and safety instructions or pull up video and audio footage recorded by experts that explain how to carry out processes correctly. There is even a video chat feature allowing people to get real-time help.
These options take ongoing training to a new level. It occurs while people actively engage in tasks. Then, the things they learn are immediately applicable and arguably more likely to stick in their memories.
Training Becoming More Diverse
Researchers know that people learn in different ways. Some don’t retain information well when they read it or watch a video. While plenty of tech-driven training still has text or video-based elements, it’s also highly likely to have more diverse available learning options. Then, the formats are more suitable for a wide variety of learning preferences.
About the author
Kayla Matthews, a tech-obsessed innovation writer, has written featured pieces for InformationWeek, The Innovation Enterprise, The Muse and more. You can see more of Kayla’s work on her site, Productivity Bytes, or follow her on Twitter @KaylaEMatthews.