Digital investment

digital versatile disc worth the investment? With more players appearing on the
market, we help you decide whether to make the leap from videos to DVD. By
Simon Kent

had a great impact on the consumer sector, DVD or digital versatile disc is
poised to take on the world of training. With players retailing at under £200
and the latest film releases on shelves everywhere from Blockbusters to
Woolworth’s, there is an expectation from employees that the technology and
high quality playback they can experience at home should be utilised within
training sessions.

the three major players currently working on DVD products see great potential
for the medium. Given the incredible amount of information that can be stored
on one disk, DVD not only offers high quality video footage played straight to
desktop, laptop, TV or projection screen, but has space to spare for other
training related information.

only will users access videos, but we’ll also be able to offer course materials
on the same disk,” says Martin Addison, marketing manager of Video Arts. “There
could also be presentation slides for the trainer to use or a question and
answer course for use in the classroom.”

Adamson of Fenman agrees. “Trainers will certainly find DVD a valuable tool. It
offers a great deal of flexibility. Trainers can customise the material for
different individuals or courses by selecting the appropriate training sections
from one disk. They can leave out parts of the course which may not be
applicable or replay sections they particularly like.”

Video Arts is still at the development stage of DVD, Fenman has already
produced The Learning Needs Interview on this format and believes DVD will
slowly but surely replace VHS as the prime media for film training.

has also produced a DVD product. As managing director Jack Wills explains the
company’s Creative Manager programme is now available on two DVDs. Not only
does this enable users to access both text and video portions of the course
from one source – including five 45-minute video programmes – but TADS can also
provide subtitles and audio tracks in French, German, Spanish and Italian on
the same disk, enabling international companies to share the resource. “You can
store up to 30 languages in caption form, including English for the hard of
hearing,” says Wills. This facility has led TADS to producing a single DVD to
deliver product training for Bally Shoes in five languages.

Jack Wills points out, DVD is essentially a larger receptacle for information
than the CD-Rom. Not only is it possible to get more information on one disk,
but there is the potential to do more with that information once it is there.
Well-designed DVD products could have links to vast reserves of stored
information, exercises and even links to the Internet.

think there will three main markets for DVD,” says Wills. “The first will be
for material straight from video to benefit from enhanced picture quality.

also a market for trainers who want to use DVD in an interactive education
setting – selecting parts of a DVD course as and when they require them.
However, the third application will exploit all areas of the DVD-Rom offering a
truly multimedia, multi-application and multi-language training experience.”

training revolution, however, seems far from certain. At this point even if a
trainer wanted to invest in a DVD library, they’d be hard pushed to find the
products. “Video is a very established method of training delivery,” says
Addison. “There are cost implications for organisations getting into DVD, so
they’re looking for a good selection of available materials before they make
that investment.”

some potential users see more intransigent problems. “DVD has fantastic
capabilities, but it will only have a minor impact in training,” says Vaughan
Waller, chairman of the eLearning Network. “They have awesome capacity for
storing information, but why do you need that capacity?”

also feels that the technology still delivers training in a passive way and can
therefore only act as a single element in a training programme rather than be a
programme in itself. “Video can only be part of a training course,” he says.
“Adding CBT elements to a video doesn’t mean you’ll get a better training

Adamson seems to agree with this view, explaining how Fenman perceives that DVD
will replace video use within the classroom. “Classroom training will remain,
but the standard format will change to DVD rather than video,” she says. In
this way, trainers can benefit from the enhanced picture quality of DVD –
especially when blown up to screen size for large presentations – and still
ensure the learning experience is an interactive one.

will gain in popularity as people discover more uses for them and trainers make
new demands on the technology,” says Adamson. “We see training moving to
incorporate technology rather than losing the classroom environment entirely.”

Learning Needs Interview from Fenman costs £875+VAT, as does the video version.
TADS’ Creative Manager comes complete with 2 DVDs, audio cassettes, CD-Roms and
background material at £895+VAT.

points to consider when investing in DVD

– There are two formats for DVD – DVD Playback and DVD-Rom. The former is used
by dedicated DVD players while DVD-Rom is computer based and offers
interaction. DVD-Rom disks will not play on simple DVD players, but straight
DVD disks will play on DVD-Rom players.

– DVD disks come in three sizes – 3.95, 4.7 and 9.4 gigabytes. Larger disks do
not play on all DVD players. Make sure your player has the capacity you

– What will DVD be used for? If only for playback/presentation then you need
only invest in a DVD player. If you want to facilitate interactive courses, you
should use DVD-Rom.

– Self-study DVD programmes should be easy to navigate for all users and
include extensive interaction.

– Is the course worth having on DVD? Is this simply a direct switch from VHS to
DVD? Are there enhanced or additional features to the DVD course?


players start at around £200 – the Grundig GDV110 at £250. Players are usually
about the size of a video recorder, but portable models are available. The
Panasonic DVD-PV55EBS Micro DVD player (RRP £599.99) is 185x155x140mm and can
still be plugged into a TV screen, while the DVD-LV75 Portable DVD Player (RRP
£1,199.99) comes with its own 7-inch widescreen LCD monitor.

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