Saturday, May 07, 2005

Training - a little used antidote to problems

I have worked in several organizations now that were heavy computer users, or were trying to be. In every single case there was a dearth of training for the users of the machines. This is (surprisingly, I think) even more true for the educational institutions (both secondary and colleges).

What management - and even the eventual users of the machines often did get, was that comptuers are fundamentally different from anything else we use in business. They are multifunctional things that can perform so many fundamentally different tasks it is mind-boggling if you think on it too long.

Add on the issue that most software has a TON of features, along with the time pressure felt in most businesses ("I don't have time to figure this out, I've got work to do!"), and it is really no surprise that training is a needed item.

Good technology training is the single most advantageous thing an organization can do for it's employees. By "good" I mean training that enables employees to think for themselves, and goes beyond the typical "push this button and the comptuer does that" approach I have seen in way too many textbooks and computer courses.

Good technology training should also take into account the various learning styles that have been delineated by the learning researchers. Some people learn by doing, some by hearing, some by seeing....etc.

A good trainer should also be able to integrate the training into the organization's current workflow - this is something that can produce immediate results.

It's is also amazing that so many organizations purchase equipment, get it installed - and never give a thought as to who will figure out how to work the fool thing. For example - and I realize that this is a minor thing - when a new laser printer shows up at the office, how will anyone figure out how to work it? Especially in terms of what to do when thigns go wrong.

It is critical that there be someone who is [at least partially] technically capable, that has been given the time to figure out the new machine [or has been trained!]. That way the organization loses less time and productivity for small technical glitches.

Obvious statements? Perhaps. But it is interesting how much productiviy and time is wasted becuase people aren't trained and training procedures aren't developed.