October 28, 2013

In the case of skills training, many of the current e-Learning offerings do not begin to compare with the learning values designed into the older technologies: interactive laser videodisc (IVD) and CD-ROM training. Moreover, e-Learning courseware will need to embrace those media-rich values if it ever hopes to attain the same, or better, results.

And, with that thought in mind, what I mean by “media-rich” is courseware that is designed for today’s learner: rooted in Video and/or Gaming with Optional Word-for-Word Audio capability, appropriate for both the fluent and less fluent readers.

Knowledgeably-designed media-rich training is not simply an audio-visual system designed to supplant workbook learning. It is a true, individualized interactive learning system. The learning takes place almost entirely through interaction and with direct learner involvement.

It is difficult for many people to learn how to perform a skill by reading about it. (Today, 40% of our workforce does not comprehend above a 4th Grade reading level!) Book-based training and repurposed PowerPoint presentations (posing as e-Learning), however, rely on reading for their primary teaching — and, those are never going to work.

On the other hand, with well-designed interactive media training, the students first learn by seeing, in real time, the skill being performed — and then practice that skill via interactive simulations to fortify what they have learned.

The goal of teaching a skill to an employee is to improve the employee’s on-the-job performance. Interactive media-rich programs focus on teaching the performance of a skill and not just the theoretical knowledge related to that skill. The theoretical knowledge needed to properly perform a task should be included, but the focus is always on the task, not the theory.

Each lesson of every interactive media-rich program should be a free-standing unit of instruction. The training needs of each group or individual can be met by selecting the lessons they need, and only those lessons that they need. Your trainees need not waste time covering material they already know. Combined with an on-line Skills Assessment, interactive media-rich learning accomplishes that goal.

Many users of early individualized training systems complained that trainees were intimidated by the fact that the system controlled their every move. Users of competently designed interactive media-rich programs control their own path through each lesson. They are free at any time to skip over material they already understand — or, for better comprehension, repeat any segments they choose.

Additionally, when compared with other methods of instruction, well-designed interactive media-rich courseware has proven itself by training personnel faster — thereby reducing trainees’ off-the-job time.

The clock is ticking. Current reading-based e-Learning is failing. It’s time for us to distinguish between e-Learning that trains and e-Learning that doesn’t. Only when we require e-Learning to be media-rich will our training initiatives be able to rival the IVD and CD-ROM learning successes of the past.

More on Wednesday – – –

— Bill Walton, Founder
ITC Learning (Mondays & Wednesdays)