Thinking of Using a Technology for AETC Training? - First Steps to Get Started
Mari Millery, PhD
Regional Evaluation Director
New York/New Jersey AETC
The Technology & Training Workgroup coordinated by the AETC National Resource Center in 2012, has compiled a great new resource that catalogues information about use of many different online learning technologies in the AETC training context.
BUT…before you browse this new exciting tool or jump into a decision to use a technology for your training, the workgroup recommends that you pause and think about your training context and existing technology capacity.
The starting point for your decision should not be your fascination with a particular technology. You should start with an analysis of your training situation and then consider possible technologies that can solve your training challenges. Technologies are just tools and are not to be used for the sake of using them. Examples of training challenges are: travel distances, need for flexible scheduling, and need to incorporate interactive exercises and multimedia. In addition to the training challenge, which is your reason for using the technology, you should asses the existing technology capacity available and potential barriers in your training context.
The AETC Technology & Training Workgroup outlined three steps that everyone agreed were important in the process of integrating technology into AETC work:
1. Perform needs analysis and specify goals/objectives:
This step is about understanding the training context and training challenges that technology can potentially address. Some of the first questions you should ask are the same questions you would ask when planning any trainings:
How many participants need training and who are they? Where are they located? What is the topic? What does the training need to accomplish? Who is the trainer?
2. Determine your technical resources and needs:
To explore potential use of technologies, you should start with an assessment of the available technology infrastructure and comfort levels among trainees and trainer. This includes availability of computers, webcams, software packages etc. as well as tech support. Previous technology experience and comfort levels are critical to consider.
Once you understand your training challenge (step 1) and your technology capacity (step 2), you are better prepared to explore the many technology options available out there. This is where the new resource developed by our workgroup comes in. It is a catalogue of information about different types of technologies, including webinars, podcasts, videos and others. I also want to list an important third step that the workgroup recommends before making a decision about a technology:
3. Secure commitment from participants and address potential barriers:
The decision to use a technology should of course be made based on discussions with the trainer and trainees. Their full buy-in is necessary. You should try to anticipate potential barriers, such as resistance to online learning and technical problems. Good preventive strategies include practice sessions, pre-testing of technology, and having tech support people available. We also recommend that you reach out to colleagues in the AETC network who have previously used the same technology to find out lessons learned. As a starting point, some names and emails are listed in the new workgroup resource.
There are so many training challenges to address and you may find that a technology is the right solution to many of them!