It’s Time to Make Time for Training
Many institutions began their digital transformations well before the pandemic’s onset. Some colleges and universities are even nearing the completion of modernizing their campus systems. Yet, despite a recently renewed determination to digitally transform, a persistent gap in technology knowledge lingers amongst higher education faculty and staff. Campus leaders may be implementing innovative and advanced technology, but without tech-savvy users, the full value of that technology has the potential to go unrealized.
It makes sense that campus users may not yet be up to speed on new technology, which requires users to spend time learning how to operate it. In many cases, however, institutions don’t allocate enough time or resources to train faculty and staff in the use of modern technology.
To fully see a return on a technology investment, institutions need to put in place a robust and effective training program.
Challenges to Implementing Effective Technology Training
You’ve created a flexible training plan, made and uploaded videos onto the employee portal, scheduled virtual IT sessions, but many of your employees are not taking the time to train. Why?
For one thing, it’s human nature to take comfort in rituals and avoid the unknown, especially when it comes to technology. Also, if a user hasn’t engaged in technology training in a while, even the language in an introductory training session may be confusing.
But one of the biggest reasons you might be struggling to get faculty and staff to undertake technology training is because there is no real incentive for individuals to do it.
Ways to Implement an Effective Training System: Schedule and Incentivize
While giving people flexibility in how they train (live classes, video lectures, textbooks, etc.) allows them to personalize that training to their learning styles, it also gives them an opportunity to postpone training when other life events arise. The best way to ensure training occurs is to schedule it; set firm dates and publicize them on various channels.
But sometimes even scheduling training sessions doesn’t always result in ideal attendance. For faculty and staff, training adds hours of work on top of an already overburdened schedule. Expecting employees to give time without offering compensation means that outcomes are going to be mediocre at best. If you want to ensure people attend technology trainings, the best way to do so is through compensation.
Many institutions already provide additional pay for workforce training, but not all institutions have the budget to pay faculty and staff for extra time. In this case, training would need to be scheduled in place of other work (instead of in addition to it).
While the thought of losing work hours might not seem feasible to some departments, the benefits of training with new technology should ultimately improve staff productivity, allowing departments to quickly make up for lost time.
Ways to Ensure Your Training Plan Is Effective
Most institutions already have a training plan in place. They’ve diversified their content, put in-person sessions on a calendar, and sent around reminder emails. They even have pretty good attendance. But the technology knowledge gap lingers. There’s a reason: We often consider technology training as a box to tick off, and because of that, we can fail to put evaluative measures in place.
Before you think about implementing a new training plan—or placing further emphasis on an existing plan—evaluate whether your current program is effective. Are your trainings held regularly, especially when software updates occur? Do those trainings follow effective pedagogical practices for adult learners? Do they establish a clear relevancy, allow for hands-on practice, and contain opportunities for one-on-one conversations?
Building an evaluative aspect into the training session itself is a good way to assess whether faculty and staff have achieved objectives. These evaluations could be tests featuring the material, small projects featuring the skills learned, or simply a written reflection. This can help you better understand where your current programs are succeeding and where they still need improvement.
Don’t Forget to Check in With Your Technology Provider
It’s often in your technology providers best interest to have users trained in their software. More likely than not, your provider will have a host of diverse educational materials like webinars, videos, manuals, or even live training demonstrations and classes. Most providers will also collaborate with institutions that want to develop more robust on-campus training programs.
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