Those of us involved with Skills Training have two big advantages in the Learning World today. First of all, our test results can successfully measure the knowledge acquisition of our training initiatives. Unlike Education, which mistakenly bangs its head against the Standardized Testing myth, our skills training tests actually measure the knowledge acquired for on-the-job performance. In contrast, standardized testing merely measures memorized academic skills — ignoring any measurement of “attitude, engagement, and the ability to learn further on one’s own” (John Ewing, president of Math for America) — attributes essential for a rich and productive life.

Secondly, our successful skills training choices include a plethora of multi-sensory learning solutions — media-rich programs that are steeped in our trainees own learning culture. These valuable opportunities include full-motion video, optional word-for-word audio, gaming and simulation — and are especially important for effective industrial skills training.

Yes, we’ve come a long way down the technology trail in the past four decades. The training challenges for our industrial workforce have been immense. And, the trade-offs involving instructional design, production values, plus cost and efficiency issues have complicated the entire process.

Maintenance and Operations training for our workforce has never been more necessary. And, the opportunities for more effective learning have never been greater. Multi-sensory E-Learning and CD-ROM Technology have made more and better skills training a reality, while increasing necessary retention time. Mechanical Maintenance, Electrical Maintenance, and Instrumentation Training are all better attuned to job and task applicability today. Full media-rich training has, provably, contributed to the financial returns enjoyed by the wiser American corporations and to their blue-collar workforce.

We’re going to need these better skills, too, as processes get more complicated and multi-craft training continues to evolve. Well-designed media training will help secure incomes in these difficult economic times and improve conditions for the workers and their families. And, in the process, American industry will sharpen its competitive edge.

Training and education can never be replaced or long delayed. Media Training has reopened the doors to productive learning. We are successfully transitioning from less successful lecture-textbook instruction to the newer media-rich learning opportunities. As Marshall McLuhan first foresaw some sixty years ago, “The Medium is the Message.”

Today, “The Medium has become the Message” and is ratcheting open bright new worlds of learning and productivity. Full-motion, video-based E-Learning will lead our way. Our workforce will embrace it. Management, at their peril, must not underestimate its critical importance to their corporate futures — and, to the competitive future of the United States.

More on Thursday – – – – –

— Bill Walton, Founder, ITC Learning