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How is IT changing our relationship with training?

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How is IT changing our relationship with training? Here we look at three aspects of training: design, teaching and access. Feel free to make up your own mind about the rest.

The subject of this article may not seem particularly sexy at first glance. It is, however, a reality: IT is changing how we design, teach and access training courses more than you might think!

Before exploring these three major themes (i.e. design, teaching and access) in detail, let us first define the term itself. The term ‘Information Technology’ , or ‘IT’ has become so ubiquitous that it is easy to forget where it came from and what it actually means. Our German neighbours were the first to use this term in 1957, thanks to the engineer Karl Steinbuch. For him, it was simple: informatik = meant the automatic processing of information. Basically, a machine that processes information for us. The perfect slave for modern times! But enough of semantics and history, let us turn to what really concerns us: why is IT changing professional training?

Are we heading towards 100% automatically designed training courses?

First, design. ‘But this is obvious Victor!’, I hear you say. IT + design = PowerPoint! Joking aside, despite the fact that this software, invented by Microsoft in 1987, is not brand new, it clearly remains THE software more frequently used by trainers, even though it may now seem rather passé to some. So what about artificial intelligence? We probably won’t have to wait that much longer for fully AI-generated e-learning courses (both content and format).

What? You don’t think it will work? Does ‘Heart on My Sleeve’ ring any bells? Probably not, yet this name sends shivers down the spine of the music industry. It is the title of a song ‘composed’ entirely by AI in April 2023, imitating the singers Drake and The Weeknd. The result is startling. The song is even eligible for the Grammy Awards. Still not convinced? A lot of media outlets are increasingly considering using AI to produce their content. For us, as training professionals, the question is not if, but WHEN AI is going to start creating training courses from scratch. Raising a host of issues regarding quality, ownership and, of course, the human aspect.

Trainerless training… the IT sector is already doing it 

As regards teaching, it would seem to me that IT offers a lot more than videoconferencing tools (Teams and Google Meet) and teaching applications (Kahoot, Mentimeter, Wooclap, Miro, etc.). For a number of years now, the tech world has been undergoing a veritable training revolution. Traditional classrooms are no more, replaced by destructured, flexible spaces, like the training spaces found in the Coding Factory, a computer coding school run by the Paris CCI, which promotes its ‘startup’ DNA. Training yes, but not like at school.

Some institutions and training centres have gone even further, offering fully trainerless training. Yes, you read correctly. Rest assured, our jobs are not at stake, but clearly this model works and is on the rise. Cyril Ihssan, director of teaching implementation at O1 Talent, a company that provides training worldwide to future IT specialists, based solely on a software program that adapts to the learner’s level, is categoric: ‘Our model is quick and easy to set up. The results are clear: our learners very swiftly learn the skills they need.’

The course takes place without a trainer as such, based on the principles of peer learning and collective intelligence. Learners progress through the course by gaining experience points, via a series of individual and collective projects. Several institutions in France and abroad now offer this type of innovative format; proof of its appeal. This brings to mind the famous 42 school set up by Xavier Niel, which also aims to train future developers through ‘self-training’ (according to its website). While this model does work, it is currently primarily limited to the tech world, for the time being at least. In this scenario, the trainer of tomorrow would be first and foremost a designer and a mentor.

Unlimited access to training

We now come to the final aspect in our list (design, teaching and access): access! Let’s rewind a little.

In the early 1990s the Internet was just starting to emerge. How were people trained? Mainly using books and, of course, the knowledge and skills transmitted by teachers and trainers.

Fast forward to 2023 and (almost) everything has changed. The Internet and social media have had a huge impact. Access to knowledge is simple, instantaneous and often free. Nothing new here, you might say. However, while Google gives you access to any information whatsoever, it is increasingly possible to obtain online training for jobs firmly rooted in real life. Learners still need to carry out practical work placements, of course, but the training itself takes place in front of a screen. While this is an undeniable revolution, does it really constitute progress? 

Clearly, then, IT is profoundly changing our relationship with training. From automated design to unlimited access, via a complete remodelling of the role of trainers, there is no doubt that the future of training will look very different. Should we be worried or overjoyed? That is something each and every one of us will have to decide for ourselves.

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