Welcome To The E-learning Era

We’ve come a long way down the technology trail in the past three decades. The training challenges for the process and manufacturing industries have grown. The training choices have increased. And the trade-offs involving instructional design and production values plus cost and efficiency issues have complicated the entire process for the corporate trainer.

However, the heart of the matter has not changed. Learning values have always been balanced against corporate issues, involving both money and efficiencies.

CD-ROM, a transitional technology, replaced interactive laser videodisc and, because we were in the earlier limited days of digital, most good branching design for learning went away. CD-ROM-delivery was a step above videotape for its user-controlled interactivity but a big step below the power of individualized interactive laser videodisc learning design.

Moreover, we had a training-delivery system that had efficiency limitations. One either had to buy a zillion copies in order to distribute them to all involved or continue with the learning center concept.

Once again, since labor costs are always the single biggest training expenditure, we had a relatively inefficient system – plus one that did not have the learning-value compensations of “one-on-one, hands-on instruction by ol’ Charlie” or the complete user control instruction (individually tailored) offered by interactive laser videodisc.

Currently, we are now in “the e-learning era.”

At last we have a system for training that is truly available 24×7 – available almost anywhere to almost anyone with a connection. It is the most efficient and cost-effective training methodology yet conceived.

However , most e-learning currently gives up the “motion picture value” of these earlier technologies – and that is a weakness. That absence, however, can be compensated for with carefully constructed optional full audio.

Corporate trainers face a choice today. They can opt for CD-ROM solutions that will give their learners the power of seeing real procedures performed in real time. Balanced against that advantage are the inherent disadvantages of cost, accessibility and the standard SCORM compatibility issues surrounding a corporate installed LMS.

However, CD-ROM remains a good solution for a training-dedicated LAN since we now have available digitized versions of the CD-ROM courseware, with powerful self-contained administrative systems.

In all other ways, e-learning is the ideal choice. And not too many years from now, e-learning will match, or exceed, CD-ROM’s current full motion video advantage, as well.

— Bill Walton, Founder of ITC Learning