LEARNING BY THE WATER-COOLER: Episode 4


LEARNING is everything and everything is learning. For those who suffer from even a modest fear of technology, that rings true more than ever as 2021 beckons.


With the COVID-19 vaccination program slowly rolling out, there is a glimpse of a brighter business dawn on the horizon. Hopefully translating into companies (in all sectors) staring the new year with a renewed vigour. We have seen lockdowns and lay-offs, restrictions and redundancies. Even for those who have survived intact through 2020; it has often seemed like “The Year of Running to Stand Still”. But to get ‘moving again’ will mean seeking that edge, finding new ways to improve and better our products and ourselves. For training that so often means embracing new technology.


Pondering this, sent my mind jumping back to an exciting partnership Pathways fashioned with St. John Ambulance a few years ago. We had been exploring ways to use video imaginatively in training and we were able to create a unique tool to support their need for realistic (experiential) learning. We combined 360 video and virtual reality. As I said a number of times when we successfully launched their program, “... sometimes in learning hearing the words – wow, this is cool – is quite enough.” To create “cool”, we needed everyone to take a big, brave step outside of their comfort zones and embrace technology and a new way of learning; this included our team at Pathways.


But new ways to train can be found everywhere. As a sports enthusiast, I must confess, I often look for parallels from that world to business. Before one ground-breaking baseball movie, you would be forgiven for thinking many sporting franchises were populated by hordes of confirmed technophobes. Much of that changed when Billy Beane made the decision to use statistical analysis programming (Sabermetrics) in the evaluation of players. That decision, changed for the better, the fortunes of the Oakland Athletics. It would spark Michael Lewis’ book Moneyball and the classic movie of the same name that starred Hollywood A-lister Brad Pitt as Beane.


Look into the world of soccer now and you can see intriguing partnerships in the growth industry of artificial intelligence. Over 40 professional teams around the globe have linked up with Zone7, a firm that specialises in injury risk forecasting. The California based company aims to help the franchises hit the sweet spot between “pushing athlete performance and maintaining athlete health.”

Players wear a tracker capturing millions of data points, which can then be analysed to predict potential issues. Think of those wizened old scouts snorting at Beane’s fictional sidekick Peter Brand, brilliantly played by Jonah Hill, as the bespectacled ‘nerd’ pores through data to decide signing targets. That sort of sneering scorn would not go down well in many soccer boardrooms now. Why? Well, Zone7’s AI can predict 75 per cent of a squad’s injuries, with an accuracy rate as high as 95 per cent. Mind-blowing stuff.


For our ‘Moneyball’ we have used eLearning, video, animation, and gaming to convey key training concepts for our clients (once thought to be) only the privy of the seasoned classroom facilitator, health and safety expert or product specialist.


In business, as in sport, when you conquer your fears and embrace new technology there are almost certainly positive results to be found.


Do you need help finding the right technology to improve your training?

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