phones in the Classroom?
Some skills bases are highly suited to private, device-based learning.
I’m seeing two fascinating shifts in how communication skills are moving front and centre of people development.
- How we define their value, as a core driver of life-long success
- How we develop such skills, as students and as adults
Defining its value
You would have thought that the fast approaching age of automation would have reduced our need to communicate extensively in the workplace. Won’t machines communicate much more on our behalf, or obviate much of the need? Yet a recent LinkedIn Learning report heralds “training for soft skills as the #1 priority”. It argues that the pace of change in automation is fueling demand for adaptable communicators. “As technology accelerates, soft skills are in high demand to fuel people and business growth.” A McKinsey report coming out around the same time, seems to concur. “Workers of the future will spend more time on activities that machines are less capable of, such as managing people, applying expertise and communicating with others”.
Communication skills are not just about presenting in front of your class, your team, or your entire community. They are as much about how you interview, how you explain things to your parents and your teachers, and how you have difficult conversations with your friends. The two-way situations, as well as the one-way. They are one of the through-and-across life skills that we all need.
Tomorrow will be less about what we know. It will be more about how we argue our point clearly and authentically, despite the setting or circumstances of the communication. How we use our voice will determine our share of the influence, and how we differentiate ourselves.
Differentiating ourselves through our speech intelligence will keep us a step ahead of the machines.
LinkedIn Learning Workforce Learning Report, 2018
- McKinsey Global Institute workforce skills executive survey, 2018
Yet very few schools, universities or workplaces have a comprehensive, embedded approach to developing communication skills in their people. At most, there may be occasional workshops, themed a variety of ways.
Here’s the irony. It could be the machines that help us improve our options for communication skills learning, at home, in the workplace or even at school itself:
My prediction is that the rise of technologies that can teach (human to human) communication skills, will at the very least, raise our awareness of how we come across to others. At most, they could monitor how well we communicate, as often as we allow them to.
Adopted successfully, they offer a digital coach that can build your skills substantially, throughout life, and at the point of need.
Using technology for communication skills, can automatically recruit a significant number of embedded values, that workshop-only teaching may struggle to achieve. From self-paced, micro-learning to objective progress measurement, there are many advantages.
I believe that by a certain age, students should be comfortable with interacting on and with devices. Especially when so many companies rely on technology for communication. In addition to audio and video conferencing, the use of video intelligence software for candidate screening is growing rapidly. In any case, good technology based communication skills learning should be encouraging short bursts of speaking exercises, as opposed to extended periods of video watching.