Far too often, our opinions of “the best way to educate/train” are limited to our own experiences — those we grew accustomed to during our own public school and college educations — sometimes, long ago. Unfortunately, when one is confined in their thinking to “what worked for me,” they close their mental doors to the exciting promise of evolving educational and training technologies. They also become blind to the emerging new learning culture of our modern workforce.

We all know that training methods vary widely today — from traditional classroom instruction, with hands-on practice, to the latest in technology-based training. But, which method will work best for you?

For training a large number of students in a relatively short amount of time, the better training method may be one that can be administered to a large group. If cost is no issue, classroom instruction will work — as long as those lectures are supplemented with hands-on practice or lab work built around simulation-based instruction (video-based CD-ROM, video-based E-Learning, or the newer Games & Simulation technologies).

However, traditional classroom training is waning as the instructional method of choice for several reasons. In addition to the current learning culture limitations, it is much more expensive than technology training choices.

People costs are the single highest expense in any training initiative. Pulling people off-line has enormous personnel costs and, in many cases, lost production time costs, as well.

For companies that wisely prefer an alternate approach to classroom instruction, technology training choices offer many benefits. The ROI will be higher when one uses interactive CD-ROM, the emerging versions of Games & Simulation or, when you can find them, video-based E-Learning solutions.

In addition, studies show that training time can be cut by as much as 50% with individualized technology training. More importantly, retention levels may top 90%.

After an organization decides to commit to individualized technology solutions, a vendor for the training courseware must be selected. Considerations should include:

• Vendor reputation and length of time in business
• Courseware that is designed around the principles of multiple media
• Quality of the courseware (includes content appropriateness & media-based instructional design)
• Total costs involved

Vendor selection is critical. Today, far too many E-Learning vendors are perverting the medium with adapted PowerPoint and written procedures “courseware.” Those examples, of course, ignore the fact that nearly half of our nation’s workforce cannot learn from materials that are written above a 4th Grade reading level.

You need to look either for multisensory learning solutions with video and optional full audio or for the most current examples of Games & Simulations. Only with one of those choices can you reap the economic and retention rewards of technology training — because you will then be part of the newer learning culture that is beginning to dominate within your workforce.

More on Thursday – – – – –

— Bill Walton, Founder, ITC Learning (Tuesdays & Thursdays)