By Rob Kawada, Managing Director, English Gang
Bangkok is a very interesting place. You have a mix of new and old, forward thinking and conservative. Technology and education are no different in the sense that many companies are embracing new technologies while the education and training their employees receive are relatively old fashioned.
When you look at companies that are leading the way in this field, you’ll see the big names such as Google, Facebook and Apple. Many of them are building their own training technologies. These technologies are best when they are developed in house, because they tend to be based around what is important for the company’s culture – not just the employees’ tasks. That being said, training programs that embrace technology can also be developed by 3rd parties as long as the 3rd party trainer truly understands what the company culture is all about.
In Australia, many companies are even spending more than their revenue on employee training, believe it or not. While that notion may seem crazy at first, it can literally pay off dividends in the future. The importance of education in the workplace is getting more and more important as the world progresses into the digital age.
Personally speaking, I’ve been studying the Thai language online with a wonderful and switched on teacher. Living in a city like Bangkok, not having to deal with traffic and meeting in the comfort of my own home or office is very convenient. Something like this wouldn’t have been possible less than 10 years ago because of Internet speeds. Nowadays Thai businesses and schools are getting English and Thai training online to save on employee time, which also connects them to a much larger pool of native English speakers across the world. Borders are being erased, and we are acquiring information at an unprecedented rate.
Relatively speaking, the digital age is still very young. As Internet speeds and memory capacities improve, so will our access to high quality, relevant educational materials. These things are improving at such a fast rate, many of us will be caught off guard when things really start to take off. Staying up to date with digital trends is actually a lot harder than one thinks. There are so many new things coming out, and we don’t know which ones will be game changers and which ones will be duds.
The one thing we can do, however, is to embrace the basics and take advantage of what they offer. For example, instead of relying on local trainees, businesses can now use distance learning to have high quality instructors teach from halfway around the world. Geography in that sense, is no longer a boundary.
When we look at Artificial Intelligence (AI), that’s when things get really interesting. AI gives a much more personal experience by looking at each individual’s style, performance and skill set rather than treating groups of employees as cogs in a machine. AI can also give intuitive feedback for tests and learning, even changing the direction of the test midway through. In the long run, this will allow for better training at much more affordable prices.
Embracing technology is much different than accepting technology. Employers need to take a hard look at what is currently being used in their own offices, and need to fully grasp the benefits of using technology to its fullest potential. A little up front investment can save loads of time in the future.
Born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, Rob moved to Thailand in 2004 to work with the Thai government on education and finance projects. He has since worked in many different arenas within Thai education from corporate training projects to business development for international schools in Bangkok. He is now Managing Director of English Gang, which provides online English training for Thai corporations and students. Though education is his main passion, he is also very into fitness, playing the cello, and family life.