Make It So


In one of the versions of the television series Star Trek, the crew and passengers of the Starship Enterprise are able to use holograms to spend time in a virtual, life-like landscape. In this virtual world, the characters on the television show were able to interact with, move, feel, and talk to images in a way that wasn’t possible beyond a world of make-believe technological capabilities.

Fast-forward to the present day. What was once imagined in a sci-fi television show has become a reality. The use of holographic technology is quickly becoming a practical component of the workplace training and development toolkit. HoloLens technology allows for workers to interact with complex work-related processes in a virtual space.

Click here the link to view a clip of HoloLens technology in action.

Click here to read about HoloLens technology application in the workplace.

As we know through our training and development studies, repeated practice of a particular skill allows for increased self-efficacy and individual competence. In some professions or fields, however, opportunities to practice work-related skills may be few and far between, and there may be high levels of risk when trainees are still in the early stages of competency development.

Novice nurses, for example, have to apply theoretical learning in a live setting, which requires practicing techniques on fellow human beings. Construction engineers must be able to ensure that facility structures are sound as they transition from traditional paper design to brick-and-mortar buildings. If nurses or the engineers are able to see and feel what they are supposed to be doing by practicing in a virtual space, their transitions to live practice may be faster and more effective.

It seems that HoloLens technology will allow for repeated practice, not only for those who are new to their professions, but as an on-going training tool that can be used with minimal risk or damage during the competency development stage. Imagine how Human Resources-related training functions, such as Health & Safety practices (WHMIS training, Personal Protective Equipment, Lock-out procedures), could be improved through the use of virtual technology. What was once presented through a one-way lecture-style format, or an on-line training option, can now be offered in an interactive and virtually engaging way that is geared to individual learning and reflective practice.

It is just a matter of time until this too is actual, not virtual, reality.


Discussion Questions:

  1. Identify five different training practices that could be developed through the use of virtual technology tools.
  2. How would these training practices improve self-efficacy and worker competencies?
  3. Virtual technology, such as HoloLens technology, may be an expensive training investment. Develop a plan that promotes the use of virtual technology in the workplace from a cost-benefit perspective.

Catching Up With the Times


HRM Online recently posted an article on the power of using video as a Human Resources communications tool. As a training tool, video has been around for a long time. Videos done well, however, have not.

Click here to read the article.

At first read, the notion that companies should be using video in order to communicate organizational messages seems a bit obvious. Upon reflection, however, using video as a platform for workforce training through effective messaging is not something that just ‘happens.’

Many of us have sat through video sessions on a variety of training requirements. While the information provided through the medium of video training may be useful, there is a significant lost opportunity if the production value of the video is shabby. There is limited transfer of effective training when the medium of the video itself is poorly constructed, filmed, edited and produced. In addition, a second opportunity may be lost in the disconnect between poor video content and organizational leadership goals and messages.

Nobody wants to sit through a twenty-minute fuzzy video clip of the organization’s talking head reading from a script as a training tool. The days of shoddy production and poor messaging are over.

Our workplaces are filled with sophisticated video consumers who have come to expect a certain level of video literacy from the source providing the medium and the message. When the organization fails to live up to this expectation, more than the content of the product is lost.

In order to meet these expectations, the Human Resources professional has an opportunity to support the development of video literacy in organizational leaders. Vern Oakley’s book, ​Leadership in Focus, provides direction on how to capture effective messaging and captivate the workplace audience in order to meet organizational goals.

Click here to read a summary of Leadership in Focus.

It is time for a change through the medium of video training, and time for a leadership close-up!

Discussion Questions:

  1. Describe a video training session that you found to be effective.
  2. How can video training tools provide organizational messages?
  3. If you had to produce a video training tool for your current workplace, how would you proceed?

Is Technology the Great Equalizer?

Blind person using computer

Most of us are able to access a myriad of information and training opportunities through the effective use of communication technology. Some members of our respective communities, however, are not able to access the same information and training opportunities because the technology is, for them, inaccessible.

The issue of accessibility to training, development, and employment is a huge barrier for persons with disabilities.  In many cases, this barrier can be eliminated through effective modifications or enhancements of technology, so that persons with disabilities can access training programs provided by technology-based delivery platforms and devices. When individuals who are disabled are given the tools to access training programs, they are able to access the future, just like everyone else.

Recently, a successful training program for persons with vision loss or who are blind, was implemented in South Africa.

Read an article on the training program

It is interesting to note that the resources used to provide training to persons who are blind or partially sighted are already available through Apple touch technologies. This availability knocks down a second barrier that gets in the way of hiring persons with disabilities. These technologies are not only available, they are also affordable. No longer do employers have to argue about the cost considerations involved in providing modified or adapted equipment for persons with disabilities. The technology is in itself adapted and modified to fit multiple employee needs without additional cost.

With accessibility and affordability obstacles out of the way, a disabled person who is trained in the effective use of technology should have fewer barriers preventing them from their rightful access to equal employment.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Identify three different types of accessibility functions that are available on your own personal technology devices. How do these accessibility functions assist persons who may be partially sighted?
  2. What types of technology based training programs do you think can be modified easily for persons with disabilities?
  3. As an HR Practitioner, how will you ensure that your workplace training programs are accessible to employees with disabilities?

Are You Mobile, Ready and Willing to Learn?

To say that the power of mobile technology has changed our world, would be stating the obvious! Every single person who has a mobile device is holding a wealth of information, literally, in the palm of her or his hand.  With great power, comes great opportunity – Or does it?

Source: Purestock/Thinkstock
Source: Purestock/Thinkstock

The following article discusses how access to employee training can easily be provided through individual employee mobile devices.

Click here to read the article. 

Since the technology is already in place, it appears to be a natural step in the evolution of training methodologies to push workplace programs through mobile technology.  If employees are playing Candy Crush Saga during their ‘lunch breaks’ on their mobile devices, why not provide them with training applications and games that promote workplace knowledge at any time?

This is where the boundaries of work/life distinctions start to become blurred.  Just because the technology is able to provide the training, should employees be willing to participate?  What if the employee uses their mobile device to do work place training after working hours?  Will we need to pay for overtime?  Who owns the technology? Is the device the property of the employee or the employer? Will we need to track employee access patterns 24/7?

These questions will continue as long as technology continues to drive increasing changes into our workplaces.  Our job, as HR professionals, is to figure out how we can catch up to these changes.  We have the choice to, either shape how technology should be used or be shaped by the technology that we must use. We may not like what the later option looks like.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Why would employees be resistant to workplace training through mobile devices?
  2. If you had to use your mobile device to access workplace training would you do so after ‘working hours’? If yes, why?  If no, why not?
  3. What types of training would be easiest for employees to access through mobile devices?
  4. What types of training programs do you think you would not want employees to access through mobile devices?