Using Digital Tools to Support Classroom Training
While digital learning has been growing and improving in quality steadily over the last several decades, classroom training still constitutes the majority of activities for many organisations. While digital learning will capture more and more market share due to the low efficacy and efficiency of classroom training, it’s certainly not going to replace all of it. For some topics, face-to-face is likely to remain the primary mode of instruction for a long time. However, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t support those activities with digital tools. Here are some examples of digital tools to support classroom training.
To make it easier, let’s divide training activities into three based on their sequence: pre-session, in-session and post-session.
Using digital tools for pre-work and activities before classroom training
One of the problem with traditional classroom training is that participants come in unprepared. Furthermore, the trainer often doesn’t know them, their learning history or performance beforehand. This results in lower engagement, lack of personalization and decreased relevance. But proper use of digital tools before the training session can help trainers to make the sessions as effective as possible.
For instance, a good practice is to do some pre-work activities online before the actual session. While not necessarily significant, they help the learners to prepare for the upcoming and adjust mentally. They’ll also be able to think about the topic beforehand and come in with questions and ideas. To collect ideas, expectations and perform more in-depth needs analysis, you can also use digital tools. For instance, online surveys, digital feedback tools and social platforms are a great way of engaging the learners before the session.
What should be the goal of pre-work activities?
Overall, the goal of pre-session activities should be to understand as much about the learner as possible and engage them beforehand. This enables the trainer to provide a much more tailored training experience. Organisations who already utilise learning data to support their decision making should also make the insights available to trainers.
How to use digital tools inside the classroom?
Once inside the classroom, it’s important to use the time for active learning instead of just delivering information. Luckily, there are a multitude of different digital tools to support classroom training activities and to activate the learners. For the purpose of this piece, we are gonna leave powerpoint and other similar presentation software out.
To start out, live polling is a good way to engage people. By asking questions from the audience through their digital devices, there’s less pressure to speak up. Rather, learners can send in their thoughts through their phones – even anonymously if required. The results and input can then be displayed to the group in the form of e.g. automatically generated graphs or word clouds. This provides the learners the ability to understand others’ perceptions of the topic, without the need for extensive classroom discussion, which may be difficult in some cultures.
In addition, you can use digital tools and methods for on-the-spot assessment as well. They are also effective in collecting live feedback and potentially even in doing peer evaluation. While these are some of the more concrete tools, you can also use a variety of digital media. Short training videos, puzzles and small games can be equally good in activating the audience.
How to use digital tools after classroom training?
The challenge with corporate learning is that it’s often too transactional, due to lack of resources and commitment. You can have a great trainer deliver a truly engaging session, but still the forgetting curve is not on your side. Usually, there’s very little follow-up and statistically, you’ll still forget most of the things discussed. To support learning retention and help those experiences carry over to long-term memory, digital tools come in handy.
In addition to the traditional assessment, which is most efficient to do online, you should also provide learning reinforcements. A spaced learning approach, in which the learners are exposed to small bits of content over a period of time to activate their memory tends to work quite well. Different microlearning activities also tend to lend themselves quite well for this type of use. And finally, like in any learning activity, it’s important to keep collecting the feedback for continuous improvement.
Overall, it’s highly beneficial to support classroom training with digital tools. You’ll not only understand your learners better, but you can also improve learning results thanks to the increased engagement. So give it a try!
Do you need help in building the right kind of digital support resources for your classroom training? Our articles on flipped learning and blended learning can provide additional ideas. If you’d like more hands-on assistance, feel free to contact us and we can develop an approach with you.