Training in the Internet Age
Not so long ago taking college courses online seemed like a far-fetched idea. Today, formal and informal online learning is the norm for students across the globe It’s not so different in the business world as just-in-time learning opportunities become more and more available. Despite available learning opportunities, it can be tough for entrepreneurs to “keep up” with trends and business knowledge. This is troubling when approximately 90% of all American businesses are classified as “small businesses” and they are often stretched too thin to understand how to leverage Internet applications. Counting on the Internet to magically create innovation and growth (build it and they will come) is a strategy proven to fall short time and time again.
It is an unfortunate fact that many of the small businesses that stand to gain the most from enhanced utilization of Internet applications use it at a lower rate and are less likely to take advantage of training than those already leveraging the benefits of broadband. So how do we lead businesses to understand what they need to do online? A critical component is to cater to businesses’ stated method of learning preferences:
The classic classroom training session is the least appealing method of learning amongst businesses. This is consistent with the fact that “lack of time” is cited by SMEs as the biggest barrier to learning more about Internet applications. The more popular, learn-on-your-own-time method using online materials fits within the very nature of entrepreneurship, allowing business owners/managers to access materials when they need to, often during off business hours.
The challenge for communities and their economic development agencies is to both provide training in a myriad of ways and to also make the benefits of spending time with the training apparent and meaningful. Explain broadband’s benefits using the following learning methods to grow your local economy:
- Easy-to-use and understand online reference information and guides that focus on the business value of Internet applications.
- Webinars with experts and influencers on well-focused topics.
- A network of tech advisors who can assist businesses in sorting through their information needs and identifying needed sources of expertise.
Together, each of the learning methods above will help drive results. Compelling and accessible information delivered by influencers and case studies can motivate entrepreneurs. Tech evangelists and trainers can provide the hands-on guidance needed to help small businesses make the transition to more fully connected operations. Proactive post-training with motivated businesses will capitalize on their desire to grow their business, and with it your local economy.
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