Training . . . It Ain’t What It Used To Be!

Let’s start our week with a brief overview of media training in the last three decades – an evolution that allows us to confidently say, “Training . . . It Ain’t What It Used To Be!”

First came the videos. Less expensive and somewhat more efficient than text book/one-on-one instruction. Most importantly, the videos spoke to learners in their own learning culture, a giant leap forward. Videos, however, demanded a classroom and an instructor (an expensive undertaking as employees were taken off-line to gather in a single place). The only interactivity took place between instructor and students. The video was linear.

Interactive laser videodisc followed videotape, and with that advance, we found the very best electronic learning tool we’ve had up to this present time. Interactive laser videodisc gave us moving pictures, branching designs for better individualized instruction and almost total user control.

It died because it was analog (the world was rapidly moving toward digital) and because the equipment was both expensive and not very portable. A learning center generally housed the laserdisc playback equipment, which meant cost and efficiency issues were still problems. Pulling people off-line and having facilitators, etc. is still not a very efficient way to learn.

CD-ROM, a transitional technology, replaced videodisc and, unfortunately, 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 videodisc learning design.

Moreover, again 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 hands-on instruction or the complete user control (individually tailored) instruction offered by interactive laser videodisc.

Currently, we have entered the “e-learning era” – training that is readily accessible either outside (the web) or inside (on a company’s own networks). 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. And as it evolves to incorporate all the great training capabilities of interactive laser videodisc, the payback to employees and to organizations will be immense.

— Bill Walton, Founder of ITC Learning