After nearly 2,000 hours of training adults in Business English around the world, it is important to stop and reflect on what works well and what could be improved. When I first started adult teaching English in Vienna in 2015, teaching was still largely paper based. I would go to class with photocopies and provide students with information in the form of handouts. We would use Google only occasionally and I would try my best to draw terrible pictures on white flipchart paper. Smartphones were smaller back then, iPads were not as powerful as they are now and I also had a 2.5kg laptop, which made it less than ideal as I traveled around Vienna to various international companies giving lessons. One course I did provided the Trainer with a blackboard and chalk and a text book and CD player! Rather old school.
Now in 2020, I see technology like online platforms and devices as being an integral part of the learning experience for both Trainers and Students. Students can prepare for the upcoming lesson, effectively 'flipping the classroom', so you can concentrate on mistakes and things students don't know. More of the class time can be used for 'activation' of the language not 'teaching'. Trainers also don't have to waste time drawing and explaining concepts that can be easily found online.
As an example, I hook up my device to the monitor or projector, access Google image for pretty much any word I need, use websites for current content like news and current affairs and company information, Cambridge Dictionaries for definitions and level appropriate vocabulary, Linguee for translation from native languages, as well as the online learning platform GO! Platform that the company I teach for, MHC Business Language Training, uses for course content, class preparation and homework. Life becomes more and more paperless and my bag lighter and lighter. Students can also access the platform 24/7 from any device!
Another example is how I use my Surface Pro. Over the two years I have had it, the touch screen functionality allows me to use the screen as a whiteboard, meaning while my handwriting is still terrible, I am not wasting flip chart paper. I can add pictures and text using Microsoft Whiteboard and again, enhance the learning experience. Emailing the students afterwards means they don't need to jot everything down for fear of forgetting. They can relax, enjoy the experience and ultimately learn more.
What's App is also a great tool in the classroom. With a group chat students can communicate before, during and after class and I can send photos and links to relevant material, helping those who missed the class to pick up on the things they missed. For recording phrases and words it is also vital. Students often remark 'Wow! I never thought of using it in this way. Indeed, I didn't either until a student suggested it. Now I use it all the time.
In 2020, tech in training is much more than a simple Powerpoint slide deck. I am evolving my training and offering as I go, thinking about the latest features of an App and how they could be applied in my training. Learning powered by online learning platform like the GO! Platform, allows students to access a language and their trainer inside and outside the classroom. It is also fun, and virtually paperless! As a person obsessed with tech and who loves all the gadgets, it is cool to be able to offer my students something new! I encourage you to do the same and enhance the training experience for your participants.
David Corcoran is a Executive Voice Coach. He helps people take responsibility for their communication. This Blog contains his regular musings, thoughts and ideas. He is based in Vienna, Austria.