Ever newer technology is changing the way we live in so many ways. We all sense these rapidly increasing changes and we all profit from it in ways unimagined mere decades ago. Automation and instrumentation control of processes has taken over many of our industries. Social media, tablet computers and smart phones are just a few examples of the inroads made by technology into our daily lives.

My emphasis, however, continues to focus on the potential of the newer technologies to positively affect the students in our schools and the workforce in our offices and factories.

We must begin to realize that real education and training must be more than the organized teacher-led group environment we’ve known in the past. It must be a process that fully accommodates the uniqueness of individuals. And it will only achieve that goal when “intimidation,” a natural by-product of group instruction, has been erased. Video-based (with optional full audio) media instruction is uniquely positioned, along with gaming and simulations, to serve as those ultimate erasers.

Students are either self-motivated for learning and growth or they become victims of their own ignorance and disillusionment.

For a moment, let’s go back in time where it is easier to recollect that transfer of knowledge has always been learner-controlled. Socrates discoursed with his many willing disciples, his silence as valuable as the spoken word. Socrates described his own role as that of facilitator, stimulating others to think and to criticize themselves, but not to instruct. Storytelling became the medium, and the arts of memory ruled daily life and learning. “Memory,” said Aeschylus, “is the mother of all wisdom.” Later Saint Benedict and Charlemagne fostered and preserved libraries of manuscripts. These manuscript copies, laboriously transcribed in Latin, became the prescribed conduit of learning for the educated few. Beginning in the 15th century, the printing press made information increasingly accessible in native languages, offering learning opportunity to more individuals. Literacy had become the key to acquiring new information, while memory skills, consequently, began their decline.

Today, we live in a television and computer age of information and too few would-be learners’ eyes rely primarily on the printed page for information and knowledge. Information, values, and opinion are for the most part shaped by the two-dimensional images we see and hear on our television screens and computer monitors. Reading the printed page for information has been de-emphasized in this natural evolution of knowledge transfer.
And, so as trainers and educators we should look closely at the emerging learning technologies. The power of knowledgeably designed digitized CD-ROMs; E-Learning that is based on video and optional full audio communication; and, the rapidly developing gaming and simulation designs are all going to make a positive difference in the retention capabilities of our trainees and our students.

And, we’ll all be better off.

I’ll be traveling tomorrow and Thursday. More on Friday – – – – –

— Bill Walton, Founder, ITC Learning (Tuesdays & Thursdays)