December 16, 2013

A while ago I received two newsletters advocating the same thing: On-The-Job (OTJ) Training. One newsletter pointed out, “. . . you can learn about forklift safety, but eventually learners will need to drive one before true learning takes place.” The other observed, “. . . when you ask a dozen workers in almost any organization about how they learned their job — most will point to On The Job Training.”

One-on-one hands-on training was standard procedure in American industry throughout the first three quarters of the twentieth century. Here you had the real thing. Here you had an instructor (usually, “ol’ Charlie”) who knew how to maintain and operate that piece of equipment you were trying to learn. No form of later technology-based training would ever match it from a “learn the basics” point-of-view.

Why did it go away? Cost! Too expensive. And, it was also the least efficient method for training. For “learning the basics” it was best — but with some real problematic weaknesses.

What were those weaknesses? Well, ol’ Charlie knew only what he knew, which may not have included the best work practices or the best safety practices. Sure, he could replace pump packing — but, did he always use the best tool to do it — and, was he wearing the recommended safety gear when he did it? Consequently, ol” Charlie’s weaknesses were passed on to his trainees — and, these weaknesses were compounded by succeeding generations of maintenance personnel.

Enter full motion video-based training! Training that could simulate the skills ol’ Charlie had been using — but, always using the best work practices and the best safety practices. Better training for better learning through visual simulation!

The first generic industrial training media course was produced by NUS Corporation (Rockville, Maryland) in 1973. It was targeted 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 training tape was shot. And in 1982, the first examples of generic interactive full media training (interactive laser videodisc) were created specifically for industrial skills training and the wide process/manufacturing markets.

Why so much emphasis on industrial skills training?

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

This fit has proven ideal for a marriage between well designed video/audio 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 media training can deliver is more essential today than ever before. Instructionally sound media training can help revitalize American manufacturing. Media rich learning technologies can significantly improve productivity and efficiency while allowing American manufacturing to regain a premiere position in the international marketplace.

Instructionally sound media training works better than any alternate choice because learner retention rates grow, productivity increases, and lost-time accident rates shrink. It’s even better than “ol Charlie.”

More on Wednesday – – –

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