Too Much Technology

Can Learning Suffer From Too Much Technology?

Can you recall the last time you made it through a day without reliance on a technological device? Society has become dependent on its smart phones and tablets – myself included. The internet has replaced encyclopedias, dictionaries, and catalogs. Digital media has replaced the CD and DVD. Everyday, businesses rely on technology more and more to connect employees, customers, products and services regardless of location, shrinking the global landscape.

As technology and devices have evolved, so has the way people access and consume information. This has in turn influenced learning. In the late 1990’s, web-based training became the coolest thing to happen to training since PowerPoint replaced transparencies (if you’re under 30, Google the term). Everyone wanted it. It allowed people to learn on their own time, reduced the need for travel and facilitation overhead, and had that “cool” factor.

Flash forward fifteen years. With advancements in technology, eLearning is now more popular than ever. It’s easier and faster to create, even more interactive, and the cool factor has multiplied. A recent infographic summarized a few eLearning trends – one figure stuck out in particular, indicating that the global spend on eLearning grew from $35.6B in 2011 to $55.2B in 2013… and that it will DOUBLE again by 2015!

On top of this rapid eLearning growth, other technology buzzwords have joined the learning fray in recent years – mobile learning, apps, gamification, social learning, snacking, and interactive infographics – to name a few. Each is a bit unique and exciting; each has its own cool factor. But what’s lost in the excitement is the same thing that was initially forgotten when web-based training broke onto the scene in the 90’s… THERE IS A RIGHT TIME AND PLACE TO USE EACH. While organizations are clamoring for mobile learning and gamification, they run the risk of being blinded by the bling; their desire for the technology may put the substance of the learning in jeopardy.

Delivery MethodAt SDI, the vast majority of our learning solutions employ one or more technology component…and we absolutely love creating them! However, we care most about the integrity of the learning. That’s why we always begin with the end in mind, focusing first on the necessary performance change, then designing the most impactful, effective, and engaging way to make that change happen.

We don’t let the delivery method dictate and hinder the learning experience. If an employee needs to learn how to sell a product, an infographic explaining the sales process won’t suffice by itself – that’s ineffective training. On the flipside, we wouldn’t recommend an employee attend classroom training to recall a menu of products – that’s inefficient use of time and resources.

Finding the right blend is key – balancing the cool factor with successful skill building. In future posts, I’ll dive into each technology-based delivery methods to dissect industry trends and discuss appropriate applications.

Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting [people] working together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important.

-Bill Gates

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