Do’s & Don’ts Of Inclusive Training Technologies

Be sure to identify your bias, reflect on your format, consider input, pivot with newness, and focus on perception.

What would you want on your hands if your fingers were cold? Gloves or mittens, of course! But what if those gloves were designed only to fit certain people? Folks who look a certain way, have certain jobs, and make a certain amount of money? You would feel left out!

So what do gloves/mittens have to do with technological training tools? Like gloves, there should be multiple fits, colors, and designs for all learners/learning styles to truly achieve inclusion.

4 AREAS TO CONSIDER

During and pre-COVID, new training technologies became a dominating force in training delivery tool-kits. Organizations rapidly implemented training using mobile learning platforms, video-based training, virtual environments, HTML5, responsive design, and many other new and advancing technologies. But are there deficits for equity and inclusion with the rapid implementation of these training tools? There are four areas to consider as organizations implement these training technology tools:

  • Digital Equity
  • Digital Literacy
  • Accessibility
  • Privacy and Security of Data

Using a digital equity perspective forces training designers to think about how folks will access training technologies. A great question to ask is: Can people access and effectively use the technology necessary to participate in these digital trainings? If training technologies are meant to make everyday work more efficient, they should be easy to access, as well.

With digital literacy, organizations should be asking: Can people use new information, tools, and technologies to find, evaluate, and learn content? It’s a shame when so much money, time, and effort go into training technology and so little goes into building end-user literacy skills for maximum ROI.

Providing a seamless user experience requires trainers to think about linguistic accessibility to trainings. This includes translate buttons in a learner’s native language; it includes human-centered design processes when developing these tools; it includes surveying the primary end-user to gather and receive input on their linguistic needs. It means asking: Do the training tools get presented in ways that accommodate the needs of people of all ages and abilities, including those with cognitive disabilities, people with low literacy skills, speakers of English as a foreign language, and neurodivergent people and learners?”

Finally, more and more end-users are accessing training tools on their smartphones or other handheld devices. Many of these devices lack the essential privacy and security filters to protect their information. When building these training tools, organizations must start considering: What are the privacy concerns of minoritized and disenfranchised populations in developing and implementing tools and systems?

6 ELEMENTS FOR INCLUSIVITY

While these might seem like insurmountable challenges, here are six quick and easily replicable elements to help you implement inclusivity in your training technology:

  • Identify Bias
  • Reflect on Format
  • Consider Input
  • Pivot with Newness
  • Focus on Perception
  • Create a Culture of Inclusion

Identify your biases before they manifest in your design and development. We all have implicit biases that sway which training tools we prefer. Consider testing your own implicit biases and pivot when implementing new training technologies. If you are interested in identifying your or your teams’ implicit biases, Harvard’s Project Implicit has multiple Implicit Association Tests (IATs) you can take.

Reflect on your format. Have you grown accustomed to a particular modality for your training technologies? Are you considering multiple learning styles when procuring a new training technology, publishing a new digital course, or implementing post-assessment technologies? Be aware of how end-users receive your platforms and pivot when your results lack positive performance metrics. Within your performance metrics process, build intentional time for both individual and collective reflection.

Who is giving the input needed to be inclusive of all stakeholders’ voices in your training technologies? Consider the input of all stakeholder groups: end-users, testers, clients, procurement, etc. Make sure to disaggregate stakeholder group data by identity (race, gender, sexual orientation, ability). This will allow you to understand the nuanced voices and needs of everyone. Ask about barriers and challenges to adopting new tools, not just successes and wins.

In the era of COVID-19, always pivot with newness. The silver lining of COVID is that we now have a repertoire of new technologies from which to choose. Let’s not lose this technological edge by reverting to old, antiquated training methodologies.

Focus on perception, especially when designing and marketing your training courses. If a learner doesn’t see themselves reflected in the material, you might send a signal that their presence isn’t important. Leverage free or inexpensive inclusive stock images to make your training content more diverse.

Training technology can help create a culture of inclusion. Consider the diverse needs of learners and end-users. Create a space in the training (literally and figuratively) for trainees to pursue things that may be important to them, such as prayer.

THE CONTINUING JOURNEY

In the end, it’s important to remember that equity and inclusion in training are—and will continue to be—a journey. Pack carefully and make sure there are plenty of gloves or mittens for everyone.

Dr. Dina Shafey Scott is director of Learning and Development at Arabella Advisors (www.arabellaadvisors.com), where she brings to bear her long-term focus on DEI-centric training strategies as part of a team that supports changemakers pursuing significant social and environmental impact. An award-winning consulting firm and certified B Corporation, Arabella is dedicated to making philanthropic work more efficient, effective, and equitable.