There is always at least one. One person in a training program, or worse still, that couldn’t make it to the program, that asks, “Can I get a copy of the slides?” I am on a personal mission to never hear anyone ask for a copy of the slides again.
Why do we so often hear people ask for a copy of the slides? Simply put, it is in the belief that the learning content of the training program exists across a sequential series of PowerPoint slides. It is the belief that if you were to “read” the slides, you could get the content, rather like reading a book.
However, in defense of those who ask that question, we have trained them to think this way. Frequently training programs are designed, or rather not designed, by using PowerPoint like a book upon which to spread out our content.
We have been thinking about training this way now for some 200 years; essentially the flow of information from an expert to the learners. All the requisite learning content – the information – is then put into the PowerPoint slide deck.
The traditional physical classroom has only helped to reinforce this vision of learning. Our learners are held captive for hours, often days, while the content is poured from the expert through PowerPoint and into their brains. Of course, as learning and development professionals, we know that this isn’t the best recipe for success. Nevertheless, training all too often revolves around this approach.
It’s time to fully embrace the new vehicles and approaches to learning. In a world where millions of people are learning any manner of assorted topics from YouTube. Where a significant percentage of the total population of the world collaborates on Facebook. Where people take it for granted that they can gain access to all types of information from their phone. It remains a frustrating, and a total mystery, to me why organizations still, in large part, think they have to put people in physical classrooms to learn.
We do, however, need to learn new habits. Perhaps one of the most important reasons for still putting people in classrooms is to hold them hostage. Over the years people have largely learned to show up on time, stay put, and to limit the number of interruptions during the event itself. However, this same level of discipline is not shown for learning in the virtual world. The habits associated with virtual and self-paced learning are more to procrastinate and allow any interruption to be a distraction. It’s sad to think that the only real value associated with the traditional classroom are the walls. We have to help people learn the new habits for successful virtual learning.
In a similar way, people have learned that if they are having to get a flight to get to the physical classroom, they must be there on time. People know that the plane won’t wait for them, not even a minute. With very few exceptions, they manage to board on time and switch off their phones for the duration of the flight. However, they have not yet adopted the same habits when it comes virtual learning.
Our role as learning and development professionals is to transform ourselves from the designers and deliverers of training events to the architects and enablers of learning journeys.
So, no, you can’t have the PowerPoint slides. The content is not actually there. The content is totally disseminated. It’s dynamic. It’s in the conversations, the collaboration, and the knowledge we gain through the various experiences curated on our perpetual learning journey. In today’s world, the content is not in a slide deck, it should be available to learners anywhere, anytime.