May 2, 2012

Why is teaching technology still in the dark ages?

Technology (and subsequently our teaching tools) have advanced, so why haven’t our teaching methods?  Is it because we’ve hit the pinnacle of education and no longer need to innovate?  Or are we stuck in our comfort zones and user education is dismissed as “the easy part?”

One of our core tenets at Covalent Marketing is to begin knowledge transfer to our clients as soon as possible.  We can’t stress enough that user education is a process, not a one-time class.  We’ve seen one too many organizations make the egregious mistake to wait until the end of the project to begin exposing users to the environment, the forms, the concepts – the application overall.  We promise you that’s a straight shot to user adoption issues.  But just starting early isn’t enough; technique and method count.

Computer based programs and lecturing can work…for some people.  However, what about those who need more frequent refreshers?  Those who are new to the organization?  How can you continue to promote learning for better user adoption and ultimately a smoother running operation?

Here are 3 great training tools/techniques you probably don’t use, but may want to consider:

  1. Videos
    We’re all aware they are an option, but rarely take the time to make them.  They are a great reusable asset.  I’d also add that size matters.  Try not to make any one video too long – 8 minutes or less is a good rule of thumb.
    Recommended tool: Camtasia
  2. Classroom interaction
    Going back to my DonorsChoose article last Feb, most people are better at ‘learning by doing’.  Have a series of practical and organizationally relevant use cases that string together to demonstrate the principles you’re teaching.  This will reinforce terms, allow people to learn at their own pace and expose where people need more help.
  3. Evaluations
    How often do you give a pre-test?  Never?  Well then how do you know what areas to focus on teaching?  How do you start a journey with no beginning?  You can make the test as difficult (or easy) as you’d like – it all depends on what you’re trying to achieve from it.
    Recommended tool: Survey Monkey

It’s time to embrace all the new and updated tools, methods and techniques available, including all their bells and whistles.   Most of them are inexpensive and rather intuitive to use.  And if you provide enough simple and direct entry points for your users, they will learn the content quickly and with far less resistance.

Are there any new teaching tools you use, if so I’d love to hear about it!

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