This is Lesson #2 in a three-part series about key lessons I have learned while practicing the sport of golf. Read Lesson #1 – Results Matter and Lesson #3 – Practice Makes Consistency.
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We live in a wondrous time where computer technology is available for little to no financial cost. We have high-tech presentation assistants with a hundred functions, cloud-based training systems, and an offering of delivery software that makes PowerPoint look like an old slide projector. Every professional development conference hosts multiple sessions on the latest and greatest training tool.

Golf is no different. Equipment technology is evolving every year to help make average golfers play better without the extra practice time. Clubs are engineered to compensate for bad form or low physical power, allowing everyone to hit the ball straighter and farther without extensive practice. Golf is a difficult sport to master, so extra help from gear is generally well-received. For an example of this, just look at how drivers (the big club you hit off the tee) have changed over the decades.

Left - modern driver; Right - Persimmons wood driver

Left – modern driver, Right – old wood driver


Today’s drivers are massive and made of composite metals, providing a bigger contact area and making it much easier to hit the ball than the tiny wooden drivers of yesteryear.

However, just because a technology is new does not make it the best. Sometimes older technology is better, no matter how old it is. I recently played a golf outing where one of the holes had a “Caddyshack” (the classic golf comedy movie) theme. The main gimmick was that we had to hit the ball off the tee with an old Persimmon wood driver (the small one in the picture above), a club substantially smaller than my modern driver. Surprisingly, I hit the ball straighter and farther with that old club than I have ever hit with my giant top-of-the-line driver.  The smaller club made me focus more due to the driver’s small hit area. The bigger driver has essentially made me a lazier golfer!

In training, it is always exciting to try out the newest technology, and it is certainly fun to acquire new delivery and presentation tools. But sometimes our training efforts can be derailed by a mismatch between our training needs and the technology we use.

Sometimes all you need is one of these and some markers!

Sometimes all you need is this and some markers!

For example, the time it would take to show session participants how to connect their smartphones to your online polling facilitator may be less efficient and effective than just handing out paper evaluations. Even the “old school” use of poster paper and markers can drive a lesson better than fancy animated and web-based activities.

 

When looking at whether to use new training tools or technology, consider the following three questions:

1. Could you quickly solve a problem?
Do you have experience troubleshooting spur-of-the-moment issues with the chosen tool? Most older tech problems can be resolved through a quick Google search, but users of new tech may not have had time to share their experiences online, leaving you on your own to figure it out.

2. Does the new tech adequately fit with your anticipated trainee group?
Remember that your training tools must also line up with the results of your needs assessment. For example, the newest system may not be the right choice for particular learning styles, and be aware of generational differences in technological engagement.

3. What are the risks to your learning objectives if the tool does not fulfill your expectations?
When you plan training sessions, you likely have a ideal scenario in mind as to how your selected tools will help your learners. New technology can be unpredictable, especially the first time using it, so be sure to use it only if you can mitigate the risks of the tool not living up to the hype.

Note that none of the questions above discuss financial cost – of course we’re always aware of budget restraints, but my point here is that we need to consider the non-monetary costs of our tool choices.

Balance the intangible costs of new technology with your learning goals and training needs. Decide what tools will be most effective and efficient for you, no matter how outdated they may seem. As trainers, we strive to generate learning – it’s the actual transfer of knowledge that counts, not the release date of the software you’re using! (See Lesson #1- Results Matter!)