One of the subjects that regularly comes up when planning training is whether or not to allow participants to use their smartphone devices (i.e. iPhone, Blackberry, Android) or computers (netbook, laptop, tablet) during training. I totally understand the question. It’s about the learning experience. Training is about knowledge transfer and retention.
I’m perfectly fine with participants having their phone and/or computer in the room. I’m holding participants accountable for using that piece of equipment properly. And I’m holding them accountable for the material we cover in the session.
Participants need to manage their equipment. This includes setting expectations regarding response time. Some things need to be answered right away. Many things do not. I once facilitated a customer service focus group in which participants said a normal email response time is 24 hours. Not 10 minutes. As a technology user, it’s your responsibility to know the difference.
Businesses still have to operate during training. It’s naïve to think participants won’t have to answer a single email or take a call during training. As a trainer, it’s my responsibility to design training with adequate breaks so participants can comfortably reply to operational issues and still focus on the material. Participants can let their departments know they will answer questions during breaks. Or they can send a quick note during training that they will call in at a certain time.
If it’s an absolute emergency, a participant can step out of the room and answer a question. Then return to training. Folks, I hate to say it but this isn’t rocket surgery. It’s all about managing technology. Don’t let your iPhone manage you.
At a higher level, companies that offer technology tools need to also explain expectations when they issue an employee a smartphone, tablet or aircard. I’m sure there are managers out there who honestly believe when the company handed them a Blackberry they now need to answer everything in 10 minutes. The company didn’t tell them that…but they’ve made an assumption.
With all the technology tools available, if businesses haven’t done so…they need to set technology expectations. In turn, managers should appropriately use the tools provided to them. That way, the company will continue to operate and users will effectively use available technology. It’s a win-win.