Companies will need to continue to adapt their training
programs at a much more rapid pace than ever before if they want
their IT departments to continue to stay ahead of the game.
Can you imagine living during a time when you did not have access
to find out what was happening anywhere and everywhere at the touch
of a button? Indeed, people have access to nearly every piece of
information they could ever need - and some that they don't. The
world of information generation and consummation has changed
Now you may be saying to yourself, "Yes, this is true," but what
does it have to do with the world of IT training? Well, it has
everything to do with where learning is headed.
In the Old Days (say five years ago), companies and individual IT
professionals had time - and support - to participate in
traditional classes that would train them on the new advances on
their respective fields. When employees would return from training,
they had time to digest and implement what their companies paid
hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars for them to learn. In a
nutshell: We weren't working in the rushed, cost-cutting
environment that we are today.
Today we live in a world of extreme speed and tremendously tight
budgets. When you combine that with the fact that many people are
doing the jobs of two or even three people, due to recession-based
cutbacks, there just isn't much time left for learning.
This doesn't change the fact that learning is critical for
professional growth, and companies staying on the cutting edge and
leading the way. Here are some best practices that any company can
implement to stay ahead with IT training.
Take advantage of better technology
It wasn't so long ago that online training was perceived as very
low-quality. Today's it's the method of choice. Due to technology
advances, including improved e-learning authoring tools, web and
video conferencing, podcasts, and so forth, the barrier has shrunk.
In addition to controlling costs, online training has enabled many
companies to supply significantly more training to their IT
departments than they could have afforded with in-person training
programs. According to Thomas Hoyle of Solar Winds, who takes
advantage of online training programs for his team, "Technology
advances make the training more engaging and effective. More and
more vendors are recognizing the globalization trend and need for
virtualized training, which ultimately reduces the cost required to
leverage online training."
Looking forward, consumers can expect the increased competition in
the online training market to make it more cost effective to
receive a higher quality product than ever before. Of course, there
is always room for upgrades.
Get in the lab
One of the biggest requirements by training departments is for
workers to "learn by doing." Enter the IT training lab. Technical
professionals need access to remote labs to experiment and practice
what they learned during instruction in a safe environment.
These labs typically come in the form of downloadable software or a
program that lives in a virtual environment. More important, they
enable more accurate "testing" of skill development. As a result,
instructors, learners, training executives, and managers can record
results and better plan future performance development initiatives.
Training in chunks
Workers not only prefer their learning to be online, but also - and
more important - for it to be on-demand. According to Hoyle, "As
Gen Y moves into the work force like a stampede, they're accustomed
to having small bits of information available to them anywhere,
when they need it. And we have to be able to train them
Hoyle goes on to say that in his experience, this generation is not
so concerned with "learning the knowledge," but more concerned with
having "access to the knowledge" right when they need it. On-demand
learning content promises to meet this need.
On-demand learning (sometimes referred to as self-paced learning)
often can be a better solution for today's technical professional
all around. The obvious benefit is that the information is
generally broken up into convenient bite-sized pieces, and that
learners can access content according to their individual work
schedule. An added benefit is that in most applications workers can
revisit the information on the job should a situation arise in
which they need a bit of a "refresher."
Without a doubt what IT professionals need to learn and how quickly
they need to use that knowledge on the job is too enormous to call
for a one-size-fits-all approach. Here are some methods to make
training flexible at your organization:
- Lunch-and-learn courses. Scheduling online
lunch-and-learn courses that can be pulled up and repeated several
times over the course of a week. Learners can sign up for one of
several lunchtime slots and an instructor is available online
during that week to answer questions as needed.
- Podcasts. IT professionals are notoriously strong
multitaskers and regularly have the need to flip between screens on
their computers or be away from their machines all together. For
these individuals, creating on-demand audio training that can be
pulled up at the learner's convenience permits the staff member to
keep working while still learning.
- Combo training. Conducting mentored sessions with
a live instructor in conjunction with online learning and labs
combines the best of all worlds. Companies do this to save money,
and they get the first-hand touch of the instructor to answer
Companies will need to continue to adapt their training programs at
a much more rapid pace than ever before if they want their IT
departments to continue to stay ahead of the game. Never before
have there been so many options for learning methods and different
ways to gain knowledge. But even with the decreasing budgets and
fewer resources, organizations of every size can implement
sophisticated training to all of their IT professionals.