<i>Dear Workforce</i> Any Suggestions for Upgrading Our Web-Based Training

October 22, 2004
Dear Going Virtual:

To avoid being overwhelmed by the diversity in e-learning, start by looking at the big picture. What changes are you trying to make with training initiatives? Have you been successful? If not, is it because you haven't defined objectives, or is the process flawed?
Once you've answered these questions, determine where e-learning fits into the broader equation of adult learning, beginning with this self-assessment:
Is everyone on board with your training initiatives? Without buy-in from the C-level on down, your initiative may produce culture shock rather than culture change.
How do you assess competencies? The best-designed program will fail if you target the wrong skills for development. Similarly, follow-up assessments ensure that the training has paid off and identify new areas needing improvement.
Are your asynchronous (self-paced) programs engaging and do they offer true interaction? Engaging, asynchronous training is a great way for learners to acquire the basic nuts and bolts of interpersonal skills.
What's your plan for practice and application of newly acquired skills? These vital steps are best handled live. The medium, though, is flexible, encompassing telephone, virtual-classroom and face-to-face interactions.
What support-community tools do you offer? Are they used, or have they become online ghost towns? These can range from self-paced tutorials and online communities to expert-moderated forums, in both synchronous (real-time) and asynchronous environments.
Do learners have access to reinforcement? Good skill reinforcement is where the "just-in-time" concept earns its stripes, allowing learners to grab just enough review, just when they need it.
Does your content follow a sound instructional design process? High-quality content is research based rather than guru based, and is relevant to your curriculum's skills and objectives.
After answering these questions, tackle the shortcomings in your e-learning programs. When we talk specifically about asynchronous Web-based training, look at these elements:
Interactivity. Strong, interpersonal e-learning has a high degree of interactivity, such as simulations or games. PowerPoint presentations no longer suffice. Where bandwidth and hardware allow, use audio, graphics and even streaming video to engage learners on multiple levels and heighten the reality of the experience.
Interoperability. Courses can't exist in a vacuum. They should communicate with a learning-management system to track the learner's progress, scores and other data. To ensure interoperability, build your courses to conform to recognized SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model) and AICC (Aviation Industry Computer-Based Training Committee) industry standards.
Reusability. By embedding descriptive data, known as metadata, within the course's code, you create reusable learning objects, or RLOs, which multiply the usefulness of those objects across many courses.
SOURCE: Jack McDaniel, media project manager, AchieveGlobal, Tampa, Florida, Sept. 22, 2003.
LEARN MORE: When Choosing Training, the Medium Depends on the Message.
The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.
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