Using tablets to bring face-to-face training into the 21st Century

Face to face training isn’t dead

Over the past few years there has been a lot of hype around Mobile Learning in the workplace.  By developing learning content which is compatible for the learners personal devices, aided by BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), L&D departments can provide their organisation with relevant information where and when they need it.

Whether this new direction has been due to cost measures or technology enhancements, training in the classroom still takes place and shouldn’t be discouraged. Face to face learning, whether this is in the form of coaching, workshops or larger events have room to become more engaging and cost effective.  Introducing the tablet can bring the benefits of Mobile Learning and e-Learning to enhance the classroom experience. Workbooks can be made electronic, quizzes turned interactive and group activities more engaging.

How can the tablet be used as part of the learning experience?

The tablet should be seen more as a ‘tool’ which enables the L&D department to deliver effective and engaging learning.  It should be seen to support the learning process and not complicate it, therefore any features need to be well thought out and not to distract from the learning objective of the session.

Coaching

Sitting one-to-one with the individual allows personal or professional goals to be reached.  The coach would use a mixture of personal experience with known resources to aid the development process. The tablet becomes a toolkit for the Coach to use in their sessions.  This could be kept with them or shared with the individual depending on the requirement.

Tools and assessments could be added onto the tablet which can be passed to the individual to complete. Profiling or behavioral tools loaded onto the tablet become a useful tool that can be set up quickly when required.

Resources – being able to quickly show the delegate a business model, a video example or a useful article allows the coach to always be equipped with the information they require.  Yes, they could have this in their ‘bag of tricks’ but the tablet is a lot lighter and can play full multi-media resources.  Being connected to the Internet also gives the Coach almost infinite resources available on the web.

Information capture – as the Coach works with the delegate, they can capture various bits of information onto the tablet which can be instantly backed up via dropbox or similar service.

Communication – using Skype, FaceTime or similar allows the coach to carry out their sessions remotely.

Workshops

Traditional training workshops allow multiple delegates to get together in one physical location and run through a number of subjects by a trainer.   PowerPoint presentations display key information, delegates write notes down in workbooks, refer to handouts and write on flip charts.  You may be lucky to have a session with various break-out activities and role play sessions.

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The tablet can aid in a number of these situations;

Interactive workbooks allow the delegate to type notes into their tablet, automatically saving progress as they go, eliminating any requirement for printing.  These can be emailed directly to the delegate after the workshop to continue their learning.

Hand-outs and resources can be added onto the tablet for the delegates to refer to or interact with.  Resources can now be a mixture of video clips, sound recordings, pdf’s or even interactive apps. This again cuts printing costs.

Assessments – Ideally the session would start and end with a pre and post assessment.  By capturing the delegates knowledge (in real time) at the start of the day allows the trainer to tailor their session and add emphasis on certain topics (or people) in order to improve the score in the post assessment.  Various polls or quizzes can be added during the session to provide instant knowledge checks.

Photo & Video apps allow the delegate to capture the sights and sounds that they want to during the day.  This could be a role-play, a well explained description or even just the flip-chart that was used to capture everyones thoughts.

Information gathering using the internet is a valuable resource for the delegate, being able to Google something allows them to research in a controlled environment and present their findings back to the group.

Events

Larger events provide many more challenges – but the tablet can add benefit here too.  As well as all of the features discussed above for workshops, tablets can be used in other ways;

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Augmented Reality adds an extra layer of information above the real world.  Aiming the tablet with a particular app over a reference image displays additional information or media such as videos, 3D models or buttons. Products not even released yet can be built in 3D and explored using Augmented Reality. For example, delegates would aim their tablet at a large mat on the floor which would display a full size model of a car.  They are able to walk around this car, change the colour and even trigger animations to show how various parts work.  This can be done without the car even being there.  For smaller budgets, strategically positioned cards can provide the delegate with multiple resources to gain a good idea of the features being talked about.

Polling – as with the example on assessments above, polls can be created to capture real-time information from the delegates.

Presentation Screen – depending on the room setup it could be difficult for the delegate to view the screen.  The tablet could be used to display the presentation, view videos on the device or engage with the delegate (again via polls).  This is useful for large rooms or if a large screen is not available.

Potential Issues

The above sounds great and has worked well in practice. However, there are always going to be challenges that the technology will present.

Cost – This is the biggest factor for introducing tablets into the organisation.  Tablet prices are dropping significantly and when compared with printing costs of workbooks and handouts, the savings start to show.  Especially if workbooks and resources are constantly being updated with new information. Coupled with environmental benefits and the extra engagement of the delegate, a suitable business case can be created.

Distraction – Providing the delegate with an iPad with WiFi access potentially allows them to use it for personal reasons, such as email and social media sites.  By the trainer closely monitoring this, this can be controlled, some tablets can be configured to stop certain sites from being used. Another solution is allowing them to do this in the break sessions provided.

Technical knowledge – You will always have some people who are not able to use technology.  Some prefer a simple pen and paper approach or have never used a tablet.  An introduction to the technology should be explained at the start of the session and alternatives created if required, such as being able to use a note pad to take notes instead of typing on the tablet.  Pairing the delegate with someone who understands the technology is a good idea – this person is usually more than willing to show off their knowledge of the tech.

Battery life – using the tablet all day for various activities drains the battery.  By configuring brightness, syncing and sleep features decrease the drain on the battery.  Ensuring they are charged at the start of the session and having docking stations for multiple day events help eliminate this issue.

Final Say

Over the past year, and as Head of rts eSolutions, I have helped introduce iPads to various workshops and events for clients such as Hyundai, Mazda, Toyota, Mercedes-Benz and Kia. I’ve trained multiple trainers on how to use the technology effectively and even taken 40+ iPads through customs.  Although I can see that many people will be wary of introducing such technology into the classroom, my experience has been that it has benefited not only the delegate but also the organisation itself with its various cost cutting benefits and engaging features. Feel free to contact me to find out more.

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