In the past, after completing one’s schooling (maybe only until the eighth grade) one became an apprentice. An honorable first step because it meant you had a “career path,” and you knew what you were going to do and how you were to do it. You were going to acquire a skill. You learned, for example, how to take a pump apart — not by reading about it, but by doing it.

Traditionally, the passive “live instruction-as-lecture” method became the norm for teaching the needed skills.

Today, there are three reasons why organizations can not help but fail when using this approach. First, workplace lectures have proven to be generally ineffective due to the listener’s inability to retain much more than a small amount of the instruction heard at a single sitting. Secondly, there is not enough time available from a “right sized” work force to do live instruction in the “expose and practice” discrete segment way. Thirdly, the complexity of the skills required to operate under today’s workplace requirements go far beyond what has been required of our non-reading population in the past.

The better answers today lie in full-motion video, delivered in an E-Learning environment and in the rapidly evolving gaming and simulations technologies that embrace sophisticated graphics and the use of Avatars.

Full-motion video delivered in an E-Learning environment can play a critical role in filling the learning needs of our adult population. A student can simulate dial movement or pressure gauge readings in real time. Media can be effectively used to transition a student into the actual job performance setting.

Suppose that, just before completing a media lesson, students are instructed to “get box number 12 off the shelf.” In box number 12 are all the components they have just learned about in that lesson. In effect, they get to do actual hands-on practice. Then, when they get to the shop floor, they will have learned, seen, and practiced everything they’re now going to be asked to do. And, if an optional audio button is accessible whenever print appears, non-fluent readers can exercise that choice while the fluent readers can ignore it.

Gaming and simulation can do the same when presented as “A Virtual Reality World (VR)” (a computer-based simulated environment where the learners take the form of avatars). And, we are beginning to see these newer technologies used to provide plant tours and safety training.
Currently, the U.S. Military and many of the larger American corporations are leading the way forward. The training innovations they are adopting are based on the dominant learning cultures of our time: television and computer gaming/simulation. While we all readily recognize the dominance of television as an information source in our daily lives, there are also some statistics regarding computer-gaming use that we should recognize:

• 72% of American households play computer and video games.
• The average gamer is 37 years old and has been playing for 12 years. 82% of gamers are 18 years of age or older.
• 42% of all players are women.
• 29% of all gamers are over the age of 50.

Those of us involved in training must tailor our courseware offerings to the learning cultures of our trainees. And, that means full-motion video (i.e.,video-based E-Learning) today and, tomorrow, Virtual Reality Worlds in combination with the video-based answers.

More on Thursday – – – – –

— Bill Walton, Founder, ITC Learning
www.itclearning.com/blog/ (Tuesdays & Thursdays)
e-Mail: bwalton@itclearning.com