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The Future of Training Is Social, Visual, and Personal

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Corporate training and education are about to be transformed, thanks to today's major technological advancements. While there are many elements contributing and impacting this transformation, I'm going to discuss three in particular that human resource and business professionals need to embrace.

In the past, executives and/or the HR department would decide what people needed to learn and then find someone to teach it to them. Today, learning is increasingly going social. By leveraging social learning, companies are empowering their employees to share their best practices and best ideas with each other, using tools like their own computer video system.

For example, I talked to a mid-sized real estate company recently. They are having their salespeople create their own videos right on their laptops about mistakes made, lessons learned, and best practices. They are then posting the videos on the company's website in order to share the insights with colleagues.

The beauty is, thanks to YouTube, companies don't need high production and high expense when producing educational videos. YouTube has made it okay to have low expense and low production look to your video and still have a high-impact result. Additionally, the YouTube revolution has shown us that you can accomplish a lot in a three to five minute video, rather than have hour-long training videos like we did in the past.

With social learning we can get our own employees to be both teachers and students, sharing with each other -- because social is all about sharing.

Next, we're enhancing training and education with visual communications, which is very different from video conferencing. Video conferencing requires expensive equipment and is usually something only seen in mid- and large-sized organizations. And those systems are always booked by the executives.

Visual communications is using free tools like Skype. The only equipment you need is a laptop, tablet, or smartphone to hear and see the person or people you're talking to. Why is seeing the person important? Because you can see what they're thinking and adjust your training accordingly.

If you're just on the phone with someone, explaining a process or procedure, you can't tell if they're bored, confused, or engaged. You can't tell if they're checking email while talking with you or multi-tasking in some other way.

But when you can see their face, you can adjust your communications to them in real time. You can see if they're confused or questioning what you're saying, and you can keep them focused on what you're talking about and communicate at higher levels.

And think of it this way: If the kids are using visual communications when they play their Xbox games so their team can heighten collaboration and increase their change of winning, shouldn't we be doing it with our employees when we want to communicate and collaborate at higher levels?

Finally, training used to be all about customization. Today, it's about personalization. For example, if you and I both have iPhones and we both choose AT&T as our phone service provider, I know for a fact that my iPhone is completely different than yours. Why? Because we've both personalized our phones with specific apps that are most useful for us. So in essence, we've each created a "my phone."  The same would of course be true for Android and other smartphones that use apps.

Similarly, we're now starting to see not just customized education, but personalized education for the user, based on both achievement and a menu of options that are determined by the user's needs.

These three factors -- social learning, visual communications, and personalization -- are transforming training and education. At this point, you have a choice. You can either be passively transformed, letting all of these technologies sweep down upon you and change your world, or you can actively be the transformer and use these tools to add value to your organization. Which option will serve you and your organization best?