Article uploaded on 1 June 2022

 

Look at each of the questions in turn. Think carefully about how they relate to your own training experiences. Then click on each box to see tips, advice, guidance and further information.

1. Think about training sessions which you have attended. What technology did the trainer use? Did it make the training more effective? If so, how?

Some people say that technology is a central and integrated part of our lives, and our learners’ lives. Therefore, as trainers (and as teachers) we have to understand it and use it. However, technology – just like a blackboard, textbook or flashcards – is just another tool in the trainer’s toolbox. As such, it’s how we use it that’s important. Technology is not something magic which works in every situation. We need to ask ourselves: is it the best tool for this job? Another important consideration is context. What works well in one context may not work in another. As such, trainers need to think carefully about what technology is appropriate and how best to integrate it to make training more effective. 

2. Think about a training session which you have given, or which you might give in the future. How could you use technology to make the session more effective?

Consider what technology is available in your context, and ask yourselves these questions: 

  • Is the technology reliable? Will it definitely be available or might someone else be using it? 
  • Is there access to Wi-Fi / Data? Is it reliable?
  • Will there be electricity? Is it reliable? 
  • What session(s) could I use technology in? Will technology improve the learning outcomes / experience? What is my Plan B?
  • If I do use technology, will there be digital equity? Will every participant have fair and equal access, or will I be giving advantages to some of them? (E.g. Who has a mobile phone / tablet / laptop?)
  • How confident and comfortable are the trainees with technology? Are they all able to complete the tasks I’d like to use?
  • Should we use mobile phones? What about trainees taking personal calls? What about taking photos? What rules should we have concerning the use of mobile phones?

3. What advantages does technology bring to the trainer and trainees?

Technology enables us to provide trainees with a wider range of resources and activities that may be more appropriate to their needs and interests. Since they can also access many digital resources outside the training room, this promotes independent learning and development. This can really help teachers perform their jobs better. 

Digital resources are also likely to be multimodal, using different types of media (e.g. text, graphics, sound and video) to enhance learning. This can help your training be varied and interesting. Online digital content is also authentic – created for a real purpose and for a real audience. If they regularly watch videos in their everyday lives (e.g. on YouTube), the training may also feel more ‘normal’.

Social media (Facebook, WhatsApp etc.) provide trainees with an audience for their ideas and any materials or activities they design. Being able to share these is motivating. Being able to save and store digital content is also convenient for both you, the trainer, and the trainees when it comes to sharing, e.g. materials, assignments and feedback. 

The internet also offers trainees opportunities for authentic and meaningful interaction via text, audio and video, (social media, learning networks and communities, blog and webinar participation) which helps to develop their communication skills, professional knowledge and skills and their personal learning networks. This can also make project work more collaborative, helping trainees develop the ability to work together over distance and time. By using technology as part of their training, participants can develop key digital skills which they will need in their professional lives and which they can pass on to their learners. 

4. What are the challenges of using technology? What could you do to minimise these?

If we did not grow up with technology, we can feel nervous or afraid of it, resist it and avoid trying new tools or ideas. Technology is also challenging because it changes quickly, and it feels like there is always something new to learn, which takes up our time. However, the use of technology in education will become increasingly common, and therefore as trainers, we need to prepare our trainees for this future. 

Some typical challenges and suggestions about how to meet these challenges are: 

  • ‘I think it’s useful for trainees to use their mobile phones during training but they keep getting distracted by reading and responding to messages and posts on WhatsApp or Facebook.’ This is a common problem that is also faced by teachers. It is therefore very important at the start of a course or session to agree on rules or a ‘session norms’ list and ensure that everyone subscribes to this. You could prepare a few questions for discussion, e.g. When should we use social media and/or our mobiles during training? Should we set them on silent? Do we all agree to be photographed? Etc. You can then draw up a group contract which everyone signs, just as teachers do when negotiating a ‘classroom contract’. 
  • ‘I always feel that the trainees know more about technology than me. What if I make a mistake or don’t know how to do something?’ You can keep up to date by sharing ideas with other trainers – locally or via social media. There are lots of online resources to help you use technology – so don’t be afraid to experiment with new ideas, tools and techniques! Remember, just because trainees use technology in their daily lives, this doesn’t mean they know how to use it to learn and teach. If you use new tools with your trainees, practise using them before the session and don’t be afraid to ask more confident participants to demonstrate to their groups. You can also demonstrate your confidence as a trainer, trust in your trainees, and model a participant-focused methodology, by asking the participants to help you with technology when you are unsure what to do, or if something goes wrong. 
  • ‘Privacy and security are big concerns for me. I worry about identity and data protection, especially when it comes to social networking. I also worry that trainees don’t really have the skills to evaluate the information they find.’ Part of your role as a trainer is to help trainees stay safe online. You can do this by sharing tips and discussing their use of social media. You can also train them to critically evaluate information by asking, for example, who created or posted a text or why they created it. 
  • ‘I find using technology makes it harder to plan and manage the session. If something doesn’t go according to plan because of the technology, it can ruin the whole session.’ If you plan to use technology, it is important to have a Plan B – a back-up plan – in case something goes wrong. Think carefully about which parts of your session can be done without technology, too.

5. What technology can you use to make training more effective?

There are simple technological tools that you can use to make training more effective. Here are some widely used examples:

  • PowerPoint

Many trainers use PowerPoint slides during training to focus the participants, display key points and project images. Slides can be colourful, attractive and visually appealing to trainees. Using slides is also useful because you can include links to audio or video files, although you need audio speakers to play these. Slides are also a useful memory aid for us – we can see what we’ve planned to do and what to do next. However, it’s important to limit the text/images on each slide to what could fit onto a T-shirt. Including too much information on slides or reading from slides is ineffective and boring to trainees. When you are preparing slides, imagine you are sitting at the back of a dark room – would you be able to see what is written?

  • Audio and Video

Audio and video resources are all around us. Therefore, it makes sense to include these in training. Watching a short video which demonstrates a teaching technique is more effective than a text which describes it. Watching or listening to a post-observation dialogue between a trainer and a trainee, where body language and tone of voice are key, is more effective than reading a transcript. Audio is also useful for jigsaw tasks – groups listen to the same recording but focus on different questions. With video jigsaw, half the group can watch with no sound, the other half listen with no visuals. They then compare information in pairs or groups. Alternatively, they sit in pairs – one with their back to the screen, the other watching with no sound. The watcher describes what is happening in part 1; they swap places for part 2. At the end they watch both parts together and compare what they understood. However, whether you use audio or video this way, make sure the recordings are short. 

  • Websites 

There are many websites which we can use positively in our training. Padlet.com, for example, can be used for participants to quickly share their ideas about a topic. This can also be done in an anonymous way, if your group prefer this. You can also encourage participants to share what they have learnt using social media. They can write a post, make a short video, or even create a meme to do this. Creating this content can be fun, but it is also very effective for participants to deepen their understanding of a particular topic. 

6. What changes are you going to make in your training sessions to make effective use of technology?

This is up to you! But be confident and try things out. Realise that things will not always work first time – but don’t be discouraged by this. Be honest with yourself afterwards and think why it didn’t work, and make the necessary changes for next time. And remember, you can always ask trainees and colleagues for help, advice and feedback.