We were recently asked to explain to a client the benefits in shifting to digital learning. Realising that this is obviously a trend that is increasingly hard to buck while staying comparative with other organisations in the Public Safety sector, they wanted to have some good reasons to promote to members and encourage them to embrace the digital option.
Benefits to highlight
- Personalising learning – the ability to access desired content at the time and location that meets the needs of individual learners, and to move through the content at their own pace, focusing on what is most relevant to them.
- More opportunities – learners can access content previously not available in their area, or use content from other organisations/locations around the world that meet their learning needs. Heaven’s above, some is even free!
- Engagement of new generations – for the learners who have grown up with technology and internet connection, digital learning and strategies such as game based learning and interactive activities online increases engagement and motivation. It may also appeal to other generations who have also embraced this type of interaction.
- Tracking progress – for trainers, assessors and organisations, digital learning makes it possible to see how learners progress through materials and where their strengths and needs lie by tracking completions and responses. For learners, things like Experience API (TinCan) mean learning in a broader sense can also be recorded and recognised by their organisation.
- Opportunities for social and collaborative learning across the organisation – helping to break down silos of organizational structure and geographical locations, digital learning can include social media platforms (such as the really great Facebook Workplace platform recently implemented by Ambulance Victoria).
- Preparing learners in our organisations for larger digital trends – opportunities for learners to gain confidence and skills in navigating digital devices and interfaces will support them with other tasks that are increasingly more digital – easily seen as more pictures of Incident Management Teams, Control Centres, response vehicles/equipment and the focus of AFAC and groups such as Bush Fire CRC are circulated online and in the media. An interesting article on some of this is available from The Australian if you want a quick read. A Day in Your Life 2020 is also an older but still eye opening video (although maybe still slightly ahead of the general times!) There are lots of other videos that show other technology that will be changing our sector, such as this look at Firefighting in the Future.
We hear you say BUT! What about…
These benefits above don’t eliminate the challenges that digital learning also presents to our organisations. Lots of members will be quick to highlight these when you start talking about a digital shift. Change is rarely easy, cheap, well implemented or the solution to all problems…
- Issues of cost and infrastructure are common, but organisations are slowly overcoming these, as has happened with other changes through history in the sector.
- Challenges of interoperability, security and authenticity are being increasingly addressed by developers.
The challenge you should be talking about
If we are going to focus on and talk about any of the challenges, lets work out ways to address the risk of organisations developing “More of the same”. There is minimum benefit gained by layering technology on top of the same old way we have done things. Let’s face the challenge of developing new paradigms and models and finding ways to shift people’s training and assessment practices at the same time we shift to digital learning.