e-trade secrets: find the best route to training technology

In the first of an occasional series in which specialist providers offer critical insight on HR issues in an e-world, Peter Coles gives the inside track on choosing an e-learning system

In Europe, e-learning accounts for just 4 per cent of the IT training market at the moment, but this figure is predicted to increase to 14 per cent by 2003. On-line learning is an obvious solution to the demands and needs of today’s workforce. Adapting classroom training to take advantage of the easy access and on-demand capabilities of technology-based learning makes sense in the increasingly flexible working environment of many organisations. But what should HR directors and those involved in training and development look for in selecting the right software for the business needs when it comes to technology-based learning?

Learning objectives linked to business goals

Does the software content describe concrete learning objectives?

Are these learning objectives in line with current, specific business goals?

Solid instructional design

Don’t mistake special effects for solid instructional design.

Does the software adhere to the latest adult-learning techniques and feature a self-directed, task-specific, learn-by-doing design?

Appropriate use of media

Is the programme merely a reproduction of a workshop manual or binder? If so, this “text under glass” approach rarely works. The most advanced programme using interactive video simulation such as Knowledge Communication Library (www.knowledgecom.com ) go way beyond this approach.

Engaging and interactive methodologies

Adults learn by doing. Look for software to engage the participant in realistic situations through a variety of interactive media, such as high-quality video, audio, and animation.

Realistic examples and situations

Adult learners want direct links between what they’re learning and real life. Examples need to grab the user’s attention and be instantly credible.

Friendly navigation

Learners must be able to navigate through programmes quickly and easily so make sure technology-based learning is highly intuitive.

Skill application assessment

Ensure technology-based, professional development programmes are able to assess how well employees can apply the skills they are learning to real-life situations. This provides users with an accurate picture of their strengths and weaknesses.

Tracking capabilities

Make sure the technology has the ability to compile critical information and facilitate analysis. Effective technology-based training can track results individually, departmentally, and organisationally.

Multiple deployment options

Make technology-based learning available to as many employees as possible, you should be able to choose from a variety of deployment options, such as CD-Rom, the World Wide Web, and intranet.

  • Peter Coles is commercial director of change and career management consultancy DBM, which also offers technology-based learning in career transition programmes.

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