Are IT Trainers Becoming Extinct?

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Are IT trainers being replaced by the evolution of their subject matter? Chris Gosk, the vice president of delivery solutions at Global Knowledge, doesn’t think so. As learning technology becomes more sophisticated and proliferates, the trainer becomes more indispensable, he said.

“Our instructors bring perspective to the classroom, and that perspective is around learning styles and learning goals,” Gosk said. “One of the things a real, live person can do that no machine or recording could ever do is assess the learning styles and goals of the individuals in [a class.]”

But the advancement of classroom technology has impacted the role of the trainer or educator, according to John Pherson, course director at Global Knowledge.

“[Today,] the essence of the instructor’s role is not stand[ing] in front of the classroom and present[ing] material to students,” he said. “It really relates to the fact that you have content you need to communicate to students, and you need to communicate it in a way that’s structured in sequence so they gain understanding of that material.”

With respect to the technology, the trainer’s job is to assess a student’s learning style and then match that student with the right learning tools.

“Just making a lot of tools available to a student isn’t enough in this new environment,” Gosk said. “It’s having good instructors who can interpret how and why those students are using [the] tools — whether they be assessments, remote labs or self-paced e-learning — and then helping to facilitate the use of [them] to [provide] the best learning experience.”

But as more organizations cinch their belts, are CEOs finding that training is too expensive?

“It’s hard to say,” Gosk said. “Training is sometimes one of the first items to be cut, [but] in some down periods companies look internally to make capital improvements to improve efficiency and their overall operations. [Further], buying technology without buying the training is disconnected. So as long as people continue to spend money on technology — the Microsofts and Ciscos of the world — then our training business will continue to grow.”

Gosk also said it’s difficult to determine whether more organizations are moving to the virtual classroom to cut costs. But the option is available.

To thrive in this type of classroom, instructors must be able to determine whether students are grasping the concepts. Unlike in the face-to-face environment, where instructors often can see the proverbial light bulb switch on, the virtual classroom forces them to check in with students.

“That feedback process is really important to us because we have to know [if] what we’re presenting and how we’re presenting is really driving toward greater understanding,” Pherson said. “To encourage discussion, we add things like questions or assessments [to] ensure that we’re getting more feedback from [students and] to try and engage them and immerse them in the learning process.”

– Lindsay Edmonds Wickman, lwickman@certmag.com

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