9 May 2013
9 May 2013,

As a trade trainer providing support to workplace learners I have been dismayed to find apprentices switching off to training between their block courses, or struggling to find time and motivation to study on a computer after work.

The apprentice system sees learners enter a contract with a workplace and a training institution, which then provides learning material and a broker, or support person, who is meant to keep the learner on track.

This is a fine arrangement in principle, but when real life is added training is the first thing to go. Learners are expected to fit regular online study sessions into their daily routine, or engage with their training when they leave the workplace to do the block course at the training institution. Neither of these processes are learner-centred, neither respects the modern learners’ work-life-study balance.

We must find ways of training and teaching while learners are working. We must provide resources for trades trainees that fit with their working lifestyle.

Organisations like CompeteNZ have made a great start, providing online modules for learners, and clarity about progress and responsibilities. But learners remain tethered to online connections.

Opportunities for a short burst of study have to be taken when they arise: waiting for the bus, a tea break or a lull in service, are all opportunities to focus on a bite sized lesson.

What is needed are rich and engaging resources on a mobile device that is big enough to view with clarity and small enough to put in a satchel.

What is needed are learning resources on a tablet which can be viewed and interacted with when offline, yet offer the connectivity of a website when online.

This is no game changer. Things will be delivered in similar ways: learners will still do block courses, learners will still be delivered modules online. The difference is the practicality of use for the trainee.

With a tablet resource the trainee prepares for the block course and has the block course material ahead of the event. There are videos of the training site and explanations of how things will be organised and, importantly, a forum where trainees can meet each other online prior to arriving.

Or, the trainee may continue to work to a monthly schedule of outcomes. But with a tablet resource each module has components that can be learnt offline, reducing the need to organise blocks of time studying online.

Trainees sign up to study and to work. It is not easy, nor is it meant to be. There is no getting away from the requirement of achieving competence. But we can provide the resources in a way that fits a modern trainee’s lifestyle.

Smart learning resources for tablets.