[ID] => 9846
[post_author] => 43
[post_date] => 2018-07-17 08:25:58
[post_date_gmt] => 2018-07-17 07:25:58
[post_content] => Bryan was irritated. He had called a restaurant to confirm a dinner reservation, and they had answered the phone “Hello”. After the call, he vented a bit. “Why should I have to ask if I’ve reached the right business?” he moaned. “I remember when businesses were polite and answered the phone with the name of the business.” He went on to say that it wasn’t really a big deal; that having to ask if you’ve reached the right place before revealing personal information didn’t take very long. But, he said, it’s a delay that used to be unnecessary, and is therefore irritating. I heard some more about how the modern world is going to hell in a hand basket, and various complaints about the “younger generations”, but you’ve all heard that sort of grumbling before, and I suspect a few of you may have been the grumbler yourselves. I know I have been.
An interesting conversation ensued though, for some of us that had been listening to Bryan. We all agreed that ‘old folks’ had for centuries and centuries been complaining about the ‘youngsters’, so it’s nothing new. What is new is the pace of change. The differences between ‘old folks’ culture and mores, and ‘youngsters’ culture and mores seem to be exacerbated by the pace of technological change. It’s one thing to lament changes in slang and tastes in music and, at least in the opinion of our little discussion, quite a different thing for people to whom the introduction of the Personal Computer (PC) was a post-pubescent event to understand the behaviors of those who grew up with a cell phone in hand. We tended to agree that older people think texts are meant to be read and answered at convenient times, while phone calls are to be answered at the time they are received. My children, however, believe the opposite, that voice-mail should take care of phone calls for them, and that reading texts is always an urgent matter. But, it’s more than just attitudinal differences.
With televisions, and cell phones, and the internet, and all the texting/messaging options, and streaming videos, and Hulu and YouTube, et al, generations are growing up with lots of different things going on simultaneously. Even if you just restrict the discussion to texting, multiple text conversations can be going on at once. So, like it or not, to navigate growing up with one’s peers, a child has to learn to multi-task. And multitasking used to be such a wonderful corporate buzzword. It meant a worker could still get out her/his urgent report while taking phone calls. It meant employees could file things away while getting instructions from the boss. It meant the efficient could check emails during team meetings. More work done in the same amount of time, with no increase in pay, was a concept corporate management embraced whole-heartedly and often pushed relentlessly. But then other things began happening.
The worker taking phone calls began issuing sub-par urgent reports, with an increasing number of errors or omissions. The employees filing would miss portions of the boss’s assignments, and either not do something they were supposed to or do it improperly. The efficient began making meetings longer when they inadvertently raised topics that had already been discussed, because their brain missed that part of the meeting while trying to understand a particularly difficult email. Anecdotally, corporate management began to realize that there was a value to being able to focus on a single task, and do it really well. The idea of multi-tasking became less desirable, and at least in certain situations, the idea of performing tasks serially worked its way back into favor.
And in the most recent years, there have been scientific studies that back up what we learned about multitasking anecdotally. The more tasks that are attempted simultaneously, the less well each of those tasks is performed. Dividing attention really means taking attention away from one thing and giving it to another. And taking attention away from something almost always means that something won’t be performed as well. Old folks rejoiced at the confirmation that they were right about these younger generations and their “rudeness” at staying connected through their phones while…, pick one: eating meals, watching movies, doing homework, driving, having conversations with their parents/grandparents, etc.
So, one might think, now that we know of the significant drawbacks of multitasking, we are advocating it less often, and the cultural pendulum is swinging back to serial tasking. Hah! That ain’t happenin’.
Okay, I do look for them, but truly, I see more and more ads for Dangerous Goods (DG, HazMat) training via Internet modules emphasizing their utility in being worked in between other tasks, most especially during ‘slow’ periods at work, but even between other desk-bound administrative tasks. Check your email, do a little DG training, and then file your time card. If there’s time left, return to the automatic bookmark in the DG training and go a little further. Heck, maybe even keep the DG training playing when the phone rings and you answer it. DG training delivered in a way that fits today’s hectic and demanding work environment. Sounds pretty convenient, and time efficient, doesn’t it?
What happens, though, when there is a pause between the introduction of a new point and when that point gets reinforced and/or made applicable to the performance of DG tasks? Does that pause interfere in the establishment of a connection in the brain of the trainee between the concept and its application? Have the designers and sellers of such DG training actually taken classes in how people learn? Do the companies providing such training know about the effect of different periods of time between being shown a new concept and being shown its application to the real world? Do these training programs provide adequate repetition to facilitate long-term memory storage versus short-term memory storage? Does each resumption of training from an auto-bookmark start exactly where the training left off, or does it return to the beginning of the module, so that there can be a connection between a concept in theory and application of that concept to DG task performance?
These are not minor issues. Or, at the very least, they certainly have the potential to be major issues. Poorly understood training leads to an increase in DG incidents. Sometimes those incidents are relatively minor, and don’t pose major threats to life and property, such as when a small fire starts in the back of a delivery van. But other times, the same sort of incident in a different situation could have vastly different consequences. What if that small fire wasn’t in a delivery van, but in the hold of an aircraft that also had lithium batteries in it? Then, the possibility of loss of life and significant property damage becomes much, much greater. So, we all should have a real interest, whether we’re DG trainers or not, in ensuring that DG training is well understood in a practical fashion by the trainees.
This is a big part of the reason why Competency Based Training & Assessment (CBTA) was introduced. Although, I do think that topic title should be re-worded slightly, to Competency Based Assessment of the Effects of Training. Regardless, there’s been pushback to the idea of CBTA by a large number of potentially affected parties. Reasons range from ‘we’re doing a great job so go impose this on someone else’ to ‘it would cost too much time and money to do this right’. So, it looks like, at least from the perspective of my porch swing, that most, if not all, of the CBTA outcomes will be as guidance, optional guidance; best practice(s) instead of enforceable regulation. And therefore, those offering shorter DG training, delivered by internet instead of a watchful instructor, in ways that can be an abuse of the learning and mental retention processes, will not be outlawed, and not in any practical way be required to be effective. Further, because of the way they’re marketed, as “completely compliant” and so much more time/cost efficient, their use will spread, and consequentially, the better style of training, face-to-face in-person will have its use decline.
I know it can make me sound like a grumpy, old man. But, I’ve personally witnessed people taking webinar training doing card games on their computers, and taking phone calls, and muting the audio to have a conversation with a colleague. In other words, multitasking. As that happens with webinar training, I believe it can and will happen with other internet delivered electronic training as well. The more interruptions that take place, and the more multitasking that takes place during delivery of DG training, the less well that training is understood and applied, and the more DG incidents we’ll suffer. I’m actually pondering whether current trends in DG training delivery mean our fairly safe DG world has now started a slow journey to hell in a hand basket. I think it is, and I really hope I’m wrong.
This is the latest in a series of musings from the porch swing of Gene Sanders, principal of Tampa-based WE Train Consulting and chair of the Dangerous Goods Trainers Association; telephone: (+1 813) 855 3855; email firstname.lastname@example.org.
[post_title] => View from the Porch Swing: Pay attention to training
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[post_name] => view-from-the-porch-swing-pay-attention-to-training
[post_modified] => 2018-07-17 08:28:16
[post_modified_gmt] => 2018-07-17 07:28:16
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View from the Porch Swing: Pay attention to training