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Technology as a Competitive Advantage

By December 13, 2021LTEN Focus On Training


Technology as a Competitive Advantage

Feature Story – By Jim Guilkey

Interactive facilitator guides offer flexible solutions

What do you think of when you hear the term “facilitator guide?” PowerPoint slides with instructions in the notes section? A Word document outlining what to do and what to say? Same here. And let’s not forget the notebook of printouts that participants receive, put on their office shelves and never use again.

Although these traditional methods outline how a facilitator should conduct a training session, they are limited in their effectiveness. To be effective, you first need to “train the trainer.” This involves a separate group of people and the time required for the training. Also, other than the PowerPoint slides, the trainer needs to have access to all the critical content to be utilized for the actual training session.

You would think that in today’s digital age we could utilize technology to create a more interactive, flexible, effective guide for facilitating a variety of programs. You would be right.

The Interactive Guide

Interactive facilitator guide (IFG) is a comprehensive technology-based tool that helps facilitators of varying levels of experience prepare for and conduct highly effective training sessions.

As an example, training surgeons and surgical staff on a new medical device can be an arduous, lengthy process. The manufacturer normally sends a team to the hospital or training facility to conduct training. But before that team arrives, they must complete training on the device themselves. So, another individual or team must conduct train-the-trainer sessions in advance of the onsite surgeon training. In addition, a facilitator guide must be created to support the onsite team.

Once that extensive effort is completed, individuals at the customer’s hospital still need to be trained so they can assume training responsibilities in the future. The technology-based IFG will address all of these challenges and provide organizations with a competitive advantage.

What exactly is an interactive facilitator guide? Here are the highlights:

  1. Includes Protocol and Learning. The IFG includes the training protocol (step-by-step instructions), but also all the content needed to learn the material prior to facilitating.
  2. Provides Just-In-Time Learning. Allows the facilitator to learn the required content at their own pace or just prior to facilitating a session.
  3. Addresses Varying Levels of Facilitator Experience. The IFG provides both content and the training protocol customized to address the needs of anyone from a new facilitator to a highly experienced teacher.
  4. Digital Format. Instead of the traditional PowerPoint printout, the technology-based IFG is in a digital format that provides maximum usability and flexibility.
  5. Scalable. Because the IFG is a technology-based solution, it can be utilized by one or 100,000 without the need for additional teams or training personnel.

Protocol and Learning

The major advantage of the IFG is that it contains both the protocol and all the content needed to effectively conduct the training program. As an example, let’s say we are tasked with designing training for a new surgical robot (including surgeons, surgical staff, sales and marketing associates, etc.). The IFG would include step-by-step instructions for conducting the training.

In addition, the IFG would contain all the content related to the robot such as setup, positioning the arms and utilizing each instrument. The content is available in a variety of formats such as videos, animations, graphics and checklists. This would allow a facilitator a variety of assets for learning the content prior to training.

Just-In-Time Learning

The IFG includes all the content the facilitator needs and that content is provided in a variety of formats. The IFG can be used in advance of the training, but also just prior to facilitating the program (just-in-time learning).

For instance, if the facilitator forgets the exact steps for deploying the arms, they can review a video and checklist just prior to the training session. These assets can also be used for demonstration purposes with the actual training audience (such as showing the surgical staff a video of how to deploy the arms).

Varying Levels of Facilitator Experience

The IFG provides knowledge to facilitators with varying degrees of experience. Someone conducting the training program for the first time has access to detailed videos, animations, graphics and checklists. If an experienced facilitator, they may only need a checklist to ensure they’re covering the material in the proper sequence and depth. In addition, these materials contain links back to additional materials in case they require quick remediation or want to demonstrate a skill for the learner audience.

Digital Format

The digital format of the IFG provides multiple advantages. First, it provides for easy updates to the content. All changes are made to a single version, so it is immediately up-to-date and ready for use. The digital format also provides the ability to use multimedia assets (videos, animations, tools, etc.).


One of the issues faced by many medical device companies is the need to easily train hospital personnel on the use of their particular device, so they in turn could train surgical associates in the future. And this need extends across multiple hospitals around the globe.

Traditionally this would require a training team to travel to various sites and train personnel at each location. The IFG is easily scalable on a global level.


COVID-19 has taught us that traditional training is not resilient and in these changing times we must continually strive to design and develop innovative, highly effective methods for meeting a variety of training needs around the world. The technology-based IFG is a great example of how this can be accomplished.

Jim Guilkey is president of S4 NetQuest. Email Jim at


About LTEN

The Life Sciences Trainers & Educators Network ( is the only global 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization specializing in meeting the needs of life sciences learning professionals. LTEN shares the knowledge of industry leaders, provides insight into new technologies, offers innovative solutions and communities of practice that grow careers and organizational capabilities. Founded in 1971, LTEN has grown to more than 3,200 individual members who work in pharmaceutical, biotech, medical device and diagnostic companies, and industry partners who support the life sciences training departments.

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