October 27, 2014

“Over the last five years, technology has been rapidly changing and expanding in every field imaginable. Smart phones are now capable of acting as standalone computer devices that can take pictures, search the Internet, send emails and text messages and yes, they even make phone calls. While it might seem that the technology of today has reached its limits, it is still actually spreading its proverbial wings. Only twenty or so years ago, personal computers were becoming small enough and affordable enough for families to buy them for home use. Since then, the world of technology has shown no signs of slowing down and practically every device available today is somehow tied to computer technology.

It seems hard these days to fathom the original size of computers and how small they have become in the last ten years, but within the last five years they have become even smaller and somehow more powerful and faster than ever before! The Internet allows people to connect with family, friends, and work colleagues from across the globe in the push of a button. Communication options have literally exploded in the instant avenues of text and video based chat as well as the near instantaneous method of email. Gone are the days where one had to post a letter and wait a week or more for a response and long distance phone calls are unnecessary for anyone with a computer, a webcam, and a speedy Internet connection.

Automobiles are now being manufactured with standard GPS and emergency call features for the convenience and safety of drivers and their passengers, making the days of carrying a map completely unnecessary and improving the peace of mind of anyone who must travel the roads alone or at night. . . .” (from: The Center of Technology)

We all sense these rapidly increasing changes and we all profit from them in ways unimagined mere decades ago. And, not just in our personal lives. (i.e., automation and instrumentation control of processes is a prevalent force in many of today’s industries.)

My emphasis, however, continues to focus on the potential of the newer technologies to positively effect 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 just 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.

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 was 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 televisions, computers, tablets and smart phones. 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. Knowledgeably designed digitized skills training that is represented by media-based e-Learning, gaming and simulations will make a positive difference in the retention capabilities of our trainees and our students.

And, the learning power unleashed by technology advancements will keep marching on!

More on Wednesday – – – – –

— Bill Walton, co-Founder, ITC Learning (Mondays & Wednesdays)