While mobile phones, Blackberrys and laptops may be the stock in trade for a modern manager they can be the bain of a trainers life.  Give a thought to the trainer trying to facilitate a management development workshop at the same time as the participants answer their mobiles, reply to emails and even Tweet on Twitter.

Many trainers may embrace technology in the classroom, but the real problem is that it can become a distraction to the business of learning.  Management development programmes often consist of case study work and discussion between participants, which means that the attendees need to be engaged in what they are discussing to benefit.

The problem is that if people are using their mobiles or Blackberrys then an element of communication is removed.  They can become too focused on replying to a text message or call than participating in the discussion and debate.  They effectively end up having more of a relationship with the technology than they do with the other participants on the programme.

So what’s the answer?  Essentially the facilitator needs to agree ground rules with the participants at the start of the management development programme.  For example all electronic devices need to be switched off at the start of any workshop and not turned back on again until an appropriate break.  A bit of fun can be added by agreeing with the participants a system of fines for not sticking to the rules by buying cream cakes for example.

Technology may not necessarily be a bad thing in a learning environment but there must be ground rules to prevent it becoming a serious distraction.