You may have heard that classroom training is dead, that learning through technology is faster, cheaper, and better. Forget the classroom – just plug in and learn, anytime and anywhere. I hear that all the time. But I also hear that the era of technology-based learning is over, gone with the bursting of the high-tech bubble. Which of these pronouncements is true?
The truth lies somewhere in the middle. Managers and trainers alike have long hoped that technology could be a panacea for organizational and business problems. Just the availability of new learning technology is often seen as a reason for using it. But as we all get more comfortable and experienced with technology, we have come to understand that it is a tool for organizational learning, not its solution. Simply going from classroom training to online learning or from a personal coach to an online information repository does not guarantee more or better learning. In fact, when used inappropriately, technology can be a hindrance – and a costly one.
Yet there is a myriad of appropriate and highly beneficial roles for learning technology. To understand how technology can be used to facilitate learning, it is important to look beyond traditional classroom-training perspectives. As important as training is, it is just one way to facilitate learning, and just one way to use technology in that effort.