How do learning technologies impact apprentice learning? What are the impacts on skills? What are the strategies for success? These are the questions trainers, college instructors, and employers tackled during a recent session at the CAF-FCA 2012 Conference held in Regina, Saskatchewan.
Conference participants enthusiastically shared their experiences with their colleagues. Highlights from their discussion are included below to stimulate your own reflection on this topic. In your experience, how do you see technology impacting apprentice learning either during technical training or on-the-job? What, in your opinion, are the challenges and benefits? CAF-FCA welcomes your feedback as we explore this topic through our research project: “The Impacts of Technology and Innovation on Apprenticeship.” Stay tuned! Research results will be available in March 2013.
USES OF TECHNOLOGY IN APPRENTICE LEARNING
- E-learning, distance learning, and blended learning are the common ways technology is being used during technical training.
- Smart phones (iPhones, BlackBerrys, etc.) are also being used by apprentices. Apprentices can now have their electrical code books on their smart phones. Smart phoneS can also be used to demonstrate things being learned in the classroom. One apprentice used his iPhone to illustrate vibration analysis.
- YouTube is also being used to demonstrate certain tasks. These YouTube videos can supplement and reinforce what the instructor is doing in the classroom.
- Social media is being used by learners to connect outside of formal technical training hours.
IMPACT ON SOFT SKILLS
- According to some participants, the impact of learning technologies on apprentices has a bigger impact on their soft skills than Essential Skills. Time management skills, initiative, and self-motivation are important when doing independent learning and this can be a challenge for some apprentices. Opportunities to build team work skills, which are very important in the trades, can be minimized when doing independent learning on a computer.
STRATEGIES FOR SUCCESS
Based on their experiences, participants shared tips for incorporating learning technologies into technical training:
- Buy-in from all stakeholders involved was considered important as well as listening to student feedback.
- This type of learning works best when it is as interactive as possible.
- A key to success at some colleges is an orientation session at the beginning that is compulsory for all students. The orientation uses learning technologies employed during technical training to prepare the apprentice for the online learning experience. It is a good opportunity for apprentices to try out and get used to the technology before their technical training officially begins.
- Apprentices need access to a contact they can go to if they need it.
- It is helpful to have an expert who knows how to use the technology and can help the instructor if they are less familiar with it.
- Participants said that it is important to embrace the technology that the apprentices bring with them and to encourage them to integrate it into their learning. Instructors should not be afraid to introduce new technologies in the classroom.