To understand the power of e-Learning, it is instructive to look at the visual learning technologies that preceded it.

The first generic industrial training video course was produced by NUS Corporation (Rockville, Maryland) in 1973. It was produced for the nuclear power industry and was in black and white, mastered on a two inch reel-to-reel video recorder. Two years later the first color generic video course was released for the same market. And in 1982, the first examples of fully interactive visual-media training (interactive laser videodisc — IVD) were created specifically for industrial skills training and the wider process/manufacturing markets.

The opportunity for increased learning and retention for those 40% of our workforce who do not read above a 4th grade level had become a reality in less than a decade!

The emphasis in those days was more on the learning-design and the technology was secondary in importance. (With the plethora of current e-Learning examples that are merely repurposed PowerPoints, the emphasis has unfortunately switched — with a consequent decline in results.)

It is also important to ask the question, “Why so much early emphasis on industrial skills training?”

Because the full power of visual-media instruction reaches out effectively to all individuals who need to acquire the skills so necessary to mechanical maintenance, electrical maintenance, instrumentation, operations and good safety practice.

This fit has proven ideal for a partnership between knowledgeably-designed, video-based instruction combined with the necessary skills and work practices associated with America’s critically important blue collar workforce.

Manufacturing has always been an essential strength of any national economy. According to a July, 2009 edition of the New York Times, “No other sector contributes more to the nation’s overall economy, economists say. And, as manufacturing weakens, the country becomes more and more dependent on imports of merchandise, computers, machinery and the like — running up a trade deficit that in time could undermine the dollar and the nation’s capacity to sustain so many imports.”

Consequently, the payback that only well designed, visual-media training can deliver is more essential today than ever before. Because of our nation’s recent employment declines, the United States now ranks behind every industrial country but France in the percentage of economic activity devoted to manufacturing.

Instructionally sound, visual-media training can help revitalize American manufacturing. Visual-media is uniquely qualified to reverse that unwelcome trend because — more than any other investment — visual-based media can significantly improve productivity and efficiency while allowing American manufacturing to regain a premiere position in the international marketplace.

The manufacturing and process industries could make few wiser investments than to invest their training dollars in visual-based learning media. These past four decades are proof!

Instructionally sound visual-media training works better than any alternate choice because learner retention rates grow, productivity increases, and lost-time accidents shrink.

More on Thursday – – –

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