Continuing with our discussion on Tuesday, the third step in your buying process should be “The Review of the Media Used.”

Confucius is credited with the following:


So it is with modern media training. While the “doing” is mostly vicarious, the learning results are close to ideal.

But, only if the programs you are evaluating for purchase are based on multisensory media (full-motion video and optional word-for-word audio) — with a minimum emphasis on the written word! (And, as you know by now, the written word will mostly fail to communicate with almost half of your workforce.) Other positive components can include animations, brilliantly designed graphics and stills in order to emphasize the “doing” part of the training.

All of this is designed to facilitate the “do” in learning. It’s what we mean when we discuss effective skills training. Education may teach us theory, facts, opinions and intellectual understanding. Training makes it possible for us to do things better and to acquire new skills.

As Thomas Jefferson once said, “What we learn to do, we learn by doing.”

Of course, you also need to examine the instructional design behind any courseware you are considering. You should require the following elements:

Navigation through the course is simple, consistent and intuitive. In other words, are the screens user-friendly and obvious to the learner?

The instruction is both meaningful and interactive. In other words, are the individual units of instruction performance based and require meaningful responses from the learner? In addition, knowledgeable instructional design will segment the course into very small units of instruction, each tied directly to a performance objective.

Adult learning characteristics are accommodated. In other words, are the designed communication techniques consistent with the learning culture of the individuals to be trained.

Administrative management requirements are satisfied. In other words, the test results, time spent, etc. are readily incorporated into your LMS.

The media used is appropriately integrated into the learning experience. In other words, the full-motion video, graphics, stills and animations are directly appropriate to the subject being taught.

The final review-subject should be “The Customer Support Review” —an activity that many of you don’t realize is even possible. After all, customer support shows its pretty or ugly head sometime after the sale.

And, in many ways, that’s true. Some vendors regard their customer support activities only from a cost control standpoint. They believe that a customer support function is nothing but an expense item. So, they try to put roadblocks between them and the customer in order to delay the inevitable as long as possible in the hope that it will “just go away.”

Unfortunately, far too many training vendors put a “Contact Us” on their website, BUT only provide an e-Mail method of contact — no phone number!

Other vendors place the caller into a voice mail activity, bypassing the customer’s need to get immediate service even though that customer may have a class of learners waiting without a solid internet connection to the purchased courseware.

What can you do during your review process in order to minimize your chances of ending up with one of those non-customer oriented vendors?

Well, you should ask your salesperson for a “number to call” in the event of a problem and an e-Mail address to contact whenever you’re experiencing problems.

Now, run a test. Call the number provided and time how long it takes for them to get back with you. Ditto with the e-Mail address. The answer to those two tests will tell you a lot about the future problems you are going to encounter with that particular vendor.

We all know that technology is not perfect. There will always be hiccups. And, most of us know enough not to expect perfection.

But, it is not too much to expect vendors to treat those imperfections with the care and concern you, their customer, deserve.

Some vendors are truly customer oriented. Find one of those. It will save you a lot of grief.

More on Tuesday – – –

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