Fay Gibbin explores how online communication makes learning more personable and immediate.
Thanks to the constant advancements in technology, effective training and development has never been so easy or efficient. From remote access to online resources to tutor support via digital media such as WhatsApp and Skype, the range of platforms now being used are giving learners every opportunity to reach their potential.
Communication is key
Giving learners remote and face-to-face access to a dedicated trainer, who will remain their main point of contact throughout their entire course, offers them support tailored to their personal needs. It’s not revolutionary, but it often surprises me how many learners I meet who, while studying with another provider, didn’t have access to this simple resource.
Once this point of contact is in place, communication must also reflect the fact that apprenticeship and trainee cohorts are predominantly (though not exclusively) a mix of millennials and generation Z. In every other aspect of their lives, young people use their phones to communicate and stay apprised of the latest information.
Why should their learning experience be any different?
Many digital portfolios allow for learners to log their progress chronologically, notifying trainers when work is submitted for evaluation.
Using Facebook groups to maintain contact, for example, not only increases the likelihood that the learner will feel comfortable reaching out for help, but over the duration of their course they benefit from a series of micro-learning moments, significantly enhancing their overall experience.
Platforms that have been around for a while, such as those that host online resources and e-portfolios, are continuing to become more advanced and tailored to the needs of learners.
Some now offer a live chat function, giving learners the opportunity to query any of the feedback received. Again, research has shown that the younger generation, who are used to instant gratification, much prefer this to traditional methods such as a helpline. It also saves time and money for training providers.
Many digital portfolios allow for learners to log their progress chronologically, notifying trainers when work is submitted for evaluation. Although meeting to discuss learners’ development and progression one-on-one is still important, this method is much more efficient. Offering feedback digitally eradicates the need for unnecessary visits to discuss work, while also supplying learners marks in a clear and simple format.
What’s more, having the learners’ progress documented in one central online resource that can be remotely accessed increases transparency between the learner, the trainer and the employer.
That these systems can be accessed in real time by employers allows them to become more involved in the evaluation process and journey of the learner, resulting in future employees sharing their business values and work ethic.
The learning curve
Big businesses may have the resources and funding to develop and oversee an in-house digital learning platform to manage the progression of employees. Most businesses, however, would benefit from commissioning an external provider to further advance and upskill their team.
For small or medium businesses (SMEs), there may be more reward in appointing a training provider who recognises the benefits of technology and incorporates this into its approach to learning.
Across multiple sectors within the UK there is a shortage of skills. Failure to address this has resulted in these shortages reaching ‘critical levels’, with almost 75% of services businesses having trouble hiring enough staff to fulfil its requirements .
Companies need help in making the training process as straightforward and logical as possible to attract apprentices to the industry. Although offering digital communication and resources is simple, training providers need to embrace the ever-changing world of technology to stay relevant.
 Statistic from British Chambers of Commerce (BCC)
About the author
Fay Gibbin is CEO of BB Training Academy (formerly Busy Bees Training).