By Mike Broderick

Workplaces of all types have incorporated technology into their training programs to increase employee development effectiveness. Companies are integrating a range of digital tools to improve productivity. A tech-forward strategy not only streamlines processes, it can help trainers and managers connect with learners of all ages, especially younger students and employees. Millennials, the largest generation in US history, grew up online and expect interactive technology in training classrooms and the workplace.

However, to be effective, the application of technology can’t be haphazard. It’s important to roll out technology solutions in a thoughtful, deliberate way, analyzing processes and applying digital tools in an approach that maximizes knowledge transfer, information retention and employee engagement. Here are three ways learning and development professionals are using technology to improve training programs and increase workplace productivity:

1.    Gamifying training sessions: Friendly competition is a great way to liven up training sessions and keep employees focused and engaged. Response technology solutions currently on the market can allow instructors to gamify training sessions by letting team members compete head-to-head or dividing employees into teams and staging contests during training courses.

With the right learning software, instructors can create games in a variety of different formats, including quiz show-style competitions, wagering games in which contestants bet accrued points on their ability to accurately answer the next question and other types of games. Individuals or teams can use their smartphones or clickers to submit answers to questions about learning content, and points are automatically tallied and displayed onscreen.

2.    Engaging employees in the discussion: Training classes and company meetings can deliver knowledge and skills that make employees more productive, efficient and effective. But that’s only true if the instructor finds a way to capture and hold employees’ attention during the session. Response technology can be a great way to more fully engage employees during meetings and training sessions.

With a response technology solution, instructors can embed questions into a PowerPoint presentation and allow students to respond with clickers or smartphones, turning a lecture into a conversation. The right technology solution enables instant display of aggregate participant responses right in the slide in chart form.

3.    Letting employees learn from each other: Harvard Professor Eric Mazur pioneered “peer instruction,” a highly effective interactive learning strategy that corporate trainers and managers can use to promote collaborative problem solving. Response technology can be an essential part of a peer instruction approach, enabling instructors to embed questions in slides, survey participants for consensus and guide discussions.

The idea behind peer instruction is that people understand and retain learning material better when they work together to solve problems instead of walking through a problem-solving process as a spectator and receiving answers from an instructor. When employees leverage their collective knowledge to find answers, they are more engaged in learning – and more likely to retain lessons.

As employers look for ways to streamline learning and development processes and improve employee productivity through more efficient acquisition of essential skills, technology offers a variety of solutions. Interactive capabilities are uniquely effective in engaging younger employees, who grew up playing video games and staying in constant contact with peers via social media. Gamification technology is a great way to introduce friendly competition and capture and hold employees’ attention.

A response technology solution can help employers accelerate skills acquisition by giving instructors a way to turn lectures into conversations and expand the conversation to include the entire class. In addition to engaging students, the display of aggregate responses inside PowerPoint presentations can also allow instructors to manage lesson plans in real time, adjusting the time spent on each new concept to fit student progress. In this way, response technology and gamification can make knowledge transfer more effective and improve productivity.

Mike Broderick is a cofounder and CEO of Turning Technologies, is a leading provider of student and audience response systems worldwide. Stay connected at @TurningTech.