• What I Learned In the Armadillo

    MANAGEMENT BRIEF

    This is what Glaswegians call the Armadillo, the main hall of the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre and it was the venue for the 46th Annual IATEFL (International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language) conference. Lovely city, friendly people, great weather, really nice restaurants. Not a fried Mars bar in sight (an old Scottish food cliché).

    TRENDING TOPICS

    Different people pick up different buzzwords at conferences. For Mary Tomalin the buzzword was how to develop Critical Thinking in English. For me it was English for Academic Purposes. (teaching overseas university and college students the English they need to study academic subjects, understand lectures and write assignments.) The other theme was Examinations. Regarding my subject, Cultural awareness, people reverentially mentioned it. But not much serious analysis.

    However, one distant noise on the horizon is getting louder. Online tutoring. How can we use online technology to teach, to supplement or even replace face-to-face training? It was prompted by a fascinating panel discussion on the role of e-publishing and e-learning convened by Paul Sweeney of EDUWORLDS This panel touched a chord. Are we looking at a new model of training?

    A NEW MODEL OF TRAINING AND FACILITATION?

    It is a truism that when there is a recession the first thing you cut is training. A lot of companies are looking at how to shorten training courses and the answer they are looking at is more online training. There three main reasons for this.

    • budgets

    • time away from office or factory

    • travel restrictions

    As a result there is more focus on optimising limited face-to-face training by having

    • more online prework

    • more use of online media – such as webinars, WEBEX etc

    • more use of phone and skype coaching both group and individual

    This means that we may be moving towards a new model of training with much less face-to-face training and facilitation and much more online work.

    We also find that stand-alone training is reduced and that a training day or half day is added to another face-to-face meeting.

    ALTERED TRAINING STATES

    If I am right about this trend, what might a new training model look like? We might divide it into three stages, prework, delivery, follow-up.

    PREWORK (much more intense)

    Diagnostics, online reading of ‘theory’, online task completion, one-to-one telecons with delegates.

    FACE-TO-FACE (much less and either physical or virtual)

    Half or full day meeting, testing of prework, facilitation and practical training

    FOLLOW-UP (more systematic and advanced)

    Follow-up coaching, phone calls, more extensive reporting

    IMPLICATIONS FOR TRAINERS AND FACILITATORS

    I think there are three main implications for trainers and facilitators

    • TECHNICAL – we need to be up to date on online methods of delivery, (including webinars, conf calls, WEBEX and others used in companies that we may not be familiar with). There may be a cost implication in getting the tools and training to do this.

    • COSTING – instead of the main budget model of a ‘training day’ with additional ‘services’ added on, there will be three separate budget areas – preparation, delivery, follow-up all individually costed and assessed by buyers of training and facilitation.

    • COACHING – there will be much more stress on coaching and having the qualifications to go with it. This will be an additional time and cash investment for training.

    THE FUTURE

    Like most futures, this future is already here for many companies and will expand more rapidly than we think. The ‘teccies’ talk in terms of months not years. The moral is obvious.

    WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH, THE TOUGH GET TRAINING!’ Go for it.

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