Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Flexible, affordable training means adapting to and using technology

Donato Pompo
Quickly evolving information and products makes education more important than ever. Training used to mean taking the sale force out of the field. But theses days that isn’t always necessary. In today's world we have the technology to communicate within seconds and remotely just about anywhere we go and that includes training. Keeping employees informed is getting easier and cheaper. Here are the newest options to keep your sales force in top form with up to the minute information.

The advent of E-Learning -  training using computers and the Internet  - has helped individuals find the time to learn.  E-Learning reduces the cost of training by eliminating the need for travel for both the student and trainer and the flexible schedule means that students can take the courses at their convenience. Online courses are self-paced, interactive and effective teaching tools. In the past, only larger universities and corporations could afford to use Learning Management Systems (“LMS”) technology or afford the cost to produce online courses.  Now, E-Learning technology and methods are growing affordable and are more widely available. Today, small businesses can take advantage of this technology as a rapid method to increase their sales and profits.

E-Learning technology is not completely compatible with mobile devices yet. which means the full range of available online courses can't be viewed on smart phones and other devices in a simplified format. But rest assured, the industry is frantically working on technology to make it compatible so courses can be available on different platforms. 

M- Learning
You may have heard of just-in-time inventory; well education is now heading towards just-in-time training through the use of smart phones and i-pads – creating mobile learning, or M-learning. People want information on-the-go and they want it when they need it.  So we are now heading towards "just in time training."  When someone needs to learn something, they don’t want to read the whole book -- they just want to read the section of the book that tells them what they need right now. They want shorter courses that can be accessed from their mobile devices.  They want to be able to Google their answers or find a list of courses and topics so they can find the information they need quickly and succinctly.

M-Learning technology could be a great competitive advantage for those businesses who utilize it.   Their employees will have more tools and more timely information – making them more credible, confident and effective with their customers. 

The Blended Approach
The availability of interactive and mobile learning doesn't mean that full length courses are on their way out.  On the contrary, abbreviated content is not meaningful enough unless it’s used  in the context of a complete knowledge base.  A blended learning approach combines on-line/mobile training with classroom and hands-on training, which together maximize knowledge and the learning experience.

A complete training and information program will use both hands-on training and full length E-Learning courses that enable training to be controlled and monitored. They should be augmented with M-Learning courses that provide immediate, succinct information when and where it's needed.  

Surviving and thriving in today's business economy means adjusting to the times and staying up-to-date with the latest technology. Offering your employees and customers both flexible, blended training will give you a competitive advantage and maximize your sales and profits.


Donato Pompo  is founder of two well-known flooring industry companies focused on improving everything about ceramic tile and stone flooring and the businesses that produce and sell them. They are Ceramic Tile and Stone Consultants (CTaSC) and the University of Ceramic Tile and Stone (UofCTS).

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