We’ve all participated in traditional training programs that were designed, delivered and administered by organizations responsible for determining what training is best for us. They determined when we should receive training, who should instruct us and how we should be instructed. It’s where the organization and the instructor knew what training was best for us and assumed control of our learning experience.

But with the introduction of new authoring and delivery technologies, fully integrated with social networking platforms, the learners experience is changing. Now when we want to learn something new, the first thing we do is “Google it.” Using a search engine is so engrained as our first source of information and knowledge that is has achieved the ultimate status of being recognized by Webster’s Dictionary as a verb instead of a destination.

From where I sit, the search engine is the single most competitive technology to impact what we do as training professionals. In fact, Google, Bing, Facebook, YouTube and other search and social networking sites have completely changed how learners learn, and are rapidly changing how trainers train.

Kevin Rogers, CEO of Cypherpath, recently told me that he believes, “We’ve entered into a new era for training – a time where the learner has the ability to actually control their own learning experience. Much different from the time where the training organization and instructor controlled everything about the learner’s experience.  Technologies allow the learner to access content virtually anywhere, on virtually any form of a mobile device.”

Not only have these technologies made it easier for us to learn, it has also made it easier for thought leaders to teach. Thought leaders who are not instructional designers, can readily create content and upload them into learning environments for student access. In addition, they can communicate with students in real time, no matter where the student is in the world.

It’s the age of personal learning. As training professionals, how we build, manage and filter these environments is our challenge. Personal Learning Environment’s (PLE) are fully integrated platforms of administrative, authoring, delivery and social technologies. The most exciting part is the costs are not as high as some may think. Savings from unnecessary classroom training is footing the bill for companies to transition to these environments. What the future holds from this era is yet to be seen. But it’s an exciting time to be a training professional.

As always, I welcome your comments. Please post your comments below, or feel free to send me an email at dharward@trainingindustry.com.

This story was originally published in the Winter Edition of Training Industry Quarterly. To see the full article, click here.