Technology-Based Training Methods Case Essay
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Technology-Based Training Methods Case Essay
Technology-Based Training Methods
After reading this chapter, you should be able to:
- Explain how new technologies are influencing training.
- Evaluate a web-based training site.
- Explain how learning and transfer of training are enhanced by new training technologies.
- Explain the strengths and limitations of e-learning, mobile learning training methods (such as iPads), and simulations.
- Explain the different types of social media and the conditions conducive to their use for training.
- Describe to a manager the different types of distance learning.
- Recommend what should be included in an electronic performance support system.
- Compare and contrast the strengths and weaknesses of traditional training methods versus those of technology-based training methods.
- Identify and explain the benefits of learning management systems.
Time and Location Don’t Stall Learning at Nissan
Nissan has more than 150,000 people working around the world, including automobile production locations in twenty countries and product markets in more than 160 countries. To ensure that the company could meet its global plans for growth and expansion, Nissan identified sixty high-potential employees who needed to develop the skills and competencies that would prepare them to be successful in their careers. The high-potential employees worked in different functional areas, levels, and locations, including Latin America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia. For these employees, face-to-face interaction in a classroom would be invaluable because it would help them develop and expand their professional network and work together on group projects. Also, classroom instruction would ensure that the employees would receive a consistent message and approach to developing leadership skills and competencies based on Nissan’s core business principles and331their questions could be immediately answered by the instructor or facilitator. But face-to-face classroom instruction was unrealistic because these employees could not be away from their work for an extended period of time and traveling to one location for training from sites around the world was too expensive.
To gain the benefits of face-to-face instruction and overcome time and travel challenges, Nissan created an e-learning program, which included a virtual classroom. This allowed Nissan to combine the strengths of a classroom experience, including relationship building, immediate feedback, and the ability to practice skills with those of an online learning environment (easily accessible resources at any time or place). The first step in the program was that program participants assessed their own competencies. Their boss and peers completed a similar assessment. Next, the participants attended a virtual feedback session where the assessment results were explained. Courses designed to improve their current skills or develop new skills were offered in a virtual classroom. The courses included a virtual learning lab for skill practice. Course content in the virtual classroom was delivered by a live instructor. Learners could connect to the course online. They could ask questions, role-play, interact using virtual white boards and polling tools, and work in small groups. To help the participants build working relationships, they could view photos of each other and the virtual class size was limited to twenty learners.
The first twenty learners were from ten different countries! Yet, the participants reported that they felt they were interacting in a real classroom. They liked the ability to interact in real time, work with small groups of other learners, and learn about other participants’ roles. Evaluation results suggested that the program was successful: Boss and peer assessments after the program indicated that participants improved their leadership behavior.
Source: Based on A. Lang, “Accelerate the leadership engine,” Chief Learning Officer (April 2013): 42–47.
As the opening vignette illustrates, technology is having a major influence on how training is delivered. Nissan is using technology-based training methods that provide a learning environment that has similar benefits as well-designed face-to-face instruction (practice, feedback, learner involvement) but overcome the cost and time challenges related to trying to bring employees together in one physical location for training. Online learning provides trainees with access to training at any time and place. The effective development and use of technology for delivering training such as online learning requires collaboration among the areas of training, information technology, and top management. In addition, needs assessment, design, transfer, and evaluation (training design) are critical components of the effective use of training technology. Although technologies such as social media, tablet computers, and virtual reality provide exciting capabilities and possibilities, it is critical that companies use training technologies that support both business and learner needs.
Nissan is not alone in its use of new training technologies. Technology is changing learning and training in corporate settings, as well as in grade schools, high schools, colleges, and universities.
In high school and elementary school classes, students are playing games that are fun, engage them in the learning content, and allow them to explore without fear of failure.1 For example, Los Angeles, California, teachers are using “Minecraft” in architecture classes to help students learn how to work in a community to get things accomplished. A middle school physics teacher in Houston, Texas, is using “Angry Birds,” which involves using slingshots to send birds to knock out pigs hiding in wood, rock, or glass towers. To knock out the pigs requires correct estimates of the birds’ trajectories. The teacher is using “Angry Birds” to help students understand arcs, and Newton’s law of force, motion, mass, speed, and velocity by examining how the birds fall and collide with the pigs. Medical students at Columbia University are using digital technology to help them identify the muscles and bones on cadavers.2 Medical students use iPads to provide images of the types of muscles and tissues that they are looking to identify on the cadaver. Students use the iPad to magnify what they are looking for and to zoom out to see supporting bones, veins, and other anatomical structures.
As we discussed in Chapter Seven, “Traditional Training Methods,” instructor-led classroom training is still the most popular training method. However, the use of technology for training delivery and instruction is increasing and anticipated to grow in the future. Table 8.1 provides a snapshot of the use of new technology in training. The use of training technologies is expected to increase dramatically in the next decade as technology improves; the cost of technology decreases; companies recognize the potential cost savings of training via tablets, mobile phones, and social media; and the need for customized training increases.3 As you will see later in this chapter, new training technologies are unlikely to totally replace face-to-face instruction. Rather, face-to-face instruction will be combined with new training technologies (a combination known as blended learning) to maximize learning.
The development, availability, and use of social media such as Twitter and Facebook have the potential to have a significant influence on training and learning. These tools are used by many people in their daily lives, especially the millennial generation. Many companies are using these tools for recruiting new employees and marketing and developing products and services. These tools are also increasingly being used for learning. Figure 8.1 shows the use of social media tools for work-related learning. Social media tools are reshaping learning by giving employees access to and control of their own learning through relationships and collaborations with others. Social media tools, including shared workspaces, social networks, wikis, blogs, podcasts, and microblogs, are being used for learning. As shown in Figure 8.1, shared workspaces, social networks, and wikis are the most commonly used social media for learning.4 There appear to be generational differences in using and realizing the potential benefits of social media tools. Millennials believe that social media tools are helpful for learning and getting work done, and do so to a greater extent than baby boomers or Generation Xers. This may be because millennials are more likely to use social media tools in their personal lives, resulting in their being more comfortable using them at work.
TABLE 8.1 Use of New Technology in Training
· 15 percent of training hours are delivered in a virtual classroom and 29 percent is delivered online.
· 39 percent of learning hours involve technology-based training methods.
· 74 percent of companies use learning management systems. Broken down by size, 88 percent of large (10,000 or more employees), 75 percent of midsize (1,000–9,999 employees), and 65 percent of small companies (100–999 employees) use learning management systems.
· 36 percent of large companies (10,000 or more employees) deliver training online, compared to 26 percent of midsize (1,000–9,999 employees) and 28 percent of small (100 or less employees) companies.
Sources: L. Miller, 2014 State of the Industry (Alexandria, VA: American Society for Training and Development, 2013); “2014 Industry Report,” training (November/December 2014):16–29.
FIGURE 8.1 Use of Social Media Tools for Work-Related Learning
Source: Based on L. Patel, “The rise of social media,” T+D (July 2010): 60–61.
The development of tablet computers such as the iPad also has the potential to influence training and learning. One estimate is that nearly 40 percent of executives plan to incorporate tablets such as the iPad into their new training and development initiatives.5 These devices are expected to be used for learning and performance support, but also for coaching and mentoring employees, mobile gaming, and microblogging (e.g., Twitter).
This chapter begins by discussing the influence of new technology on training delivery, support, and administration. How technology has changed the learning environment also is addressed. Next, the chapter explores computer-based training, online learning, and e-learning. E-learning emphasizes learning through interaction with training content, sharing with other trainees, and using Internet resources. Technologies that are familiar to us in our nonwork life, such as social media, tablets such as iPads, and mobile smartphones, which are just beginning to be used for training purposes, are introduced. Next, the use of expert systems and intelligent tutoring systems as an instructional method and for on-the-job performance support is discussed. The chapter also shows how learning management systems aid in the delivery and administration of training programs. The last section of the chapter compares the various training methods that are based on334new technology. A blended learning approach combining traditional face-to-face and technology-based training methods may be the best way to capitalize on the strengths of available training methods.
TECHNOLOGY’S INFLUENCE ON TRAINING AND LEARNING
Chapters One and Two discussed the role that training and development should play in helping companies to execute their business strategy and deal with forces influencing the workplace. For training to help a company gain a competitive advantage, it needs to support business goals and be delivered as needed to geographically dispersed employees who may be working at home or in another country. Training costs (such as travel costs) should be minimized and maximum benefits gained, including learning and transfer of training. For learning and transfer to occur (i.e., for the benefits of training to be realized), the training environment must include learning principles such as practice, feedback, meaningful material, and the ability to learn by interacting with others.
New technologies have made it possible to reduce the costs associated with delivering training to employees, to increase the effectiveness of the learning environment, and to help training contribute to business goals. Table 8.2 lists, describes, and provides examples of some of the new technology training methods that we will discuss in this chapter. New technologies have influenced the delivery of training, training administration, and training support. Technology has made several benefits possible:6
- Employees can gain control over when and where they receive training.
- Employees can access knowledge and expert systems on an as-needed basis.
- Through the use of avatars, virtual reality, and simulations, the learning environment can look, feel, and sound just like the work environment.
- Employees can choose the type of media (print, sound, video, etc.) that they want to use in a training program.
- Course enrollment, testing, and training records can be handled electronically, reducing the paperwork and time needed for administrative activities.
- Employees’ accomplishments during training can be monitored.
- Traditional training methods, such as classroom instruction and behavior modeling, can be delivered to trainees rather than requiring them to come to a central training location.
Three of the most important ways that technology has influenced training and learning is that it has provided for greater collaboration, learner control, and a more dynamic learning environment.7
Technology Facilitates Collaboration
Technology allows digital collaboration to occur. Digital collaboration is the use of technology to enhance and extend employees’ abilities to work together regardless of their geographic proximity.8 Digital collaboration includes electronic messaging systems, electronic meeting systems, online communities of learning organized by subject where employees can access interactive discussion areas and share training content and web links, social networks, and document-handling systems with collaboration technologies that allow interpersonal interaction. Digital collaboration requires a computer, tablet, or phone with a web browser or app, but collaborative. Digital collaboration can be synchronous or asynchronous.9 In synchronous communication, trainers, experts, and learners interact with each other live and in real time, the same way they would in face-to-face classroom instruction. Technologies such as video teleconferencing and live online courses (virtual classrooms) make synchronous communication possible. Asynchronous communication refers to non-real-time interactions. That is, persons are not online and cannot communicate with each other without a time delay, but learners can still access information resources when they desire them. E-mail, self-paced courses on the web or on CD-ROM, discussion groups, and virtual libraries allow asynchronous communication.
TABLE 8.2 New Technologies Used for Training
E-learning, Online Learning, Computer-Based Training (CBT), Web-Based Training (WBT)
Training delivered using a computer or the web. Can include CDs or DVDs of text and/or video.
Live web-based delivery of instruction to trainees in dispersed locations.
Web-based delivery of audio and video files.
Delivery of training through handheld mobile devices such as smartphones or tablet computers.
Training is delivered using a combined technology and face-to-face instructional delivery approach, such as classroom and WBT.
Websites that allow many users to create, edit, and update content and share knowledge.
Training delivered to trainees in other locations online, or through webcasts or virtual classroom often supported with communications tools such as chat, e-mail, and online discussions.
Online and mobile technology used to create interactive communications allowing the creation and exchange of user-generated content. They include wikis, blogs, networks such as Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn, microsharing sites such as Twitter, and shared media such as YouTube.
Shared Workspaces (Example: Google Docs)
A space hosted on a web server where people can share information and documents.
Updated content sent to subscribers automatically instead of by e-mail.
Blogs (Example: WorldPress)
A webpage where an author posts entries and readers can comment.
Chat Rooms and Discussion Boards
An electronic room or message board on which learners communicate. Communications between learners can occur at the same or different times. A facilitator or instructor can moderate the conversations, which may be grouped by topic.
Microblogs or Microsharing (Example: Twitter)
Software tools that enable communications in short bursts of text, links, and multimedia, either through stand-alone applications or through online communities or social networks.
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC)
Learning that is designed to enroll large number of learners (massive), it is free and accessible to anyone with an Internet connection (open), it takes place online using videos of lectures, interactive coursework including discussion groups, and wikis (online), and it has specific start and completion dates, quizzes and assessment, and exams (courses).
Training that customizes the content presented to the trainee based on their needs.
Sources: Based on R. Johnson and H. Gueutal, Transforming HR Through Technology (Alexandria, VA: SHRM Foundation, 2010); American Society for Training and Development, Transforming Learning with Web 2.0 Technologies, 2010 survey report; T. Bingham and M. Conner, The New Social Learning (Alexandria, VA: American Society for Training and Development Press, 2010); A. Kaplan and M. Haenlein, “Users of the world unite! The challenges and opportunities of social media,” Business Horizons, 53 (2010): 59–68. T. Poeppelman, E. Lobene, and N. Blacksmith, “Personalizing the learning experience through adaptive training,” The Industrial-Organizational Psychologist (April 2015), from www.siop.org .; R. Grossman, “Are massive open online courses in your future,” HR Magazine (August 2013): 30–36.
Technology Creates a Dynamic Learning Environment
As discussed in Chapter Seven, learning can be an instructor-driven primary process. That is, instructors present information to the learners, and practice and applications occurred after instruction was completed (see the classroom learning environment shown in Figure 8.1). Many learning environments include only the instructor or trainer and the learners. The trainer is responsible for delivering content, answering questions, and testing learning. Trainees play a passive role in learning. Communication on course content is one-way: from the instructor to the learner. Experts and resource materials are separate from the learning environment. Contact with resource materials and experts beyond the instructor and course materials assigned for the course requires learners to go outside the formal learning environment. Also, learners often have to wait to access resource materials and experts until instruction is completed. Interaction among learners occurs primarily outside the training room and tended to be limited to those who worked in the same geographic area.
Technology has allowed learning to become a more dynamic process. As shown on the right side of Figure 8.2, the learning environment can be expanded to include greater interaction between learners and the training content, as well as between learners and the instructor. The trainer may help design the instruction, but the instruction is delivered to the learners primarily through technology such as online learning, simulations, iPods, or iPads. The instructor becomes more of a coach and resource person to answer students’ questions and is less involved in the delivery of content. Learning occurs primarily through exchanges with other learners, using blogs, wikis, or other types of social media training, working on virtual team projects, participating in games, listening, exchanging ideas, interacting with experts (engineers, managers, etc.), and discovering ideas and applications using hyperlinks that take the learner to other websites. Experts and resource materials may be part of the learning environment. While learners interact with the training content through exercises, applications, and simulations, they can discuss what they are learning with other learners or access experts or resource materials available on the Internet. Training delivery and administration (e.g., tracking learner progress) is all done through a learning management system (discussed later in the chapter). In the blended learning environment, shown at the bottom of Figure 8.2, trainees have access to a blended training curriculum that consists of both online and classroom instruction. Collaboration can occur between learners, between learners and training content (e.g., simulation or game), between learners and instructors, and between learners and experts. It is important that new technologies create a dynamic learning environment, including collaboration, active learner involvement, and access to other resources. A dynamic learning environment likely includes the use of Web 2.0 technologies, including social networking, blogs, wikis, and microblogs such as Twitter.10
FIGURE 8.2 Types of Learning Environments
Technology Gives Learner’s Control
Learner control refers to giving trainees the option to learn through self-pacing exercises, exploring links to other material, and conversations with trainees and experts. It includes the ability to select how content is presented (e.g., text, pictures, videos, etc.) to pause, skip, and review content, and to link to additional resources. That is, online learning allows activities typically led by the instructor (presentation, slides, videos, visuals) or trainees (discussions, questions), as well as group interaction (discussion of application338of training content) to be incorporated into training without trainees having to be physically present in the training room. Recent technologies enable training to be delivered and accessed by trainees anytime and anywhere, including home, work, or even on the beach! Training content can be delivered in a consistent manner to trainees, who can decide when and where to participate.
Many of the training methods discussed in this chapter have these features. For example, online learning, or e-learning, includes instruction and delivery of training using the Internet or web. Distance learning typically involves videoconferencing and/or computers for delivery of instruction from a trainer to trainees who are not in the same location as the trainer. Mobile technologies allow training to be delivered through iPods, iPhones, personal data assistants (PDAs), iPads, and notebook computers that allow trainees to tune in to training programs at any time or place. New training technologies allow for the use of multiple media, including text, graphics, video, and audio. This allows for learning content to be presented in multiple ways, appealing to trainee preferences and learning styles.
Consider how technology has influenced how training is delivered and instruction occurs at Farmers Insurance Group.11 Farmers uses a blended learning approach to deliver effective learning to its multigenerational employees and insurance agents who are located across the United States. Farmers Insurance training programs integrate face-to-face instruction, print, online, video, audio, virtual simulations, and coaching. Technology is used for delivering knowledge, and instructor-led training is used for skill development. In the past five years the amount of learning delivered through instructor-led classroom-based training has dropped from 90 to 50 percent. The other 50 percent is online or informal learning. For example, Farmers Insurance is using various training methods to help its employees cope with the changes made in claims processing, ratings, billing, and product systems in support of the company’s business strategy (Farmers Future 2020), which emphasizes customer experience, distribution, and product management excellence. Field managers were required to complete online training and webinars designed to provide the new knowledge they needed. Then the managers received instructor-led training, videos, and coaching guides.
Farmers Insurance is also using virtual classrooms, mobile learning, social networks, electronic tablets such as iPads, and learning simulations. While taking courses at the University of Farmers, learners can use electronic tablets to take notes, access websites and articles, and view videos. The video capabilities of the tablets allow instructors to use them to record the learners practicing skills and then provide feedback and coaching. Also, the instructors can create learning materials such as iBooks with embedded videos. To encourage learning outside of a formal classroom environment, Farmers developed iFarmers apps for customers, sales agents, and employees. The iFarmers customer app helps customers learn about different insurance products. An iClaims app gives customers access to input and manage their insurance claims. The iAgent app provides business-focused learning for sales agents. Farmers Insurance has also been experimenting with social networking for employees to collaborate, create, and share knowledge, and to provide performance support. Some training programs are using the social network for collaborative exercises. Farmers’ “Agency Insider” program allows learners to specify whether they want to use Twitter, Facebook, e-mail, or an RSS feed.
The next section of the chapter discusses training technologies, how they are used, and their potential advantages and disadvantages.
COMPUTER-BASED TRAINING, ONLINE LEARNING, WEB-BASED TRAINING, E-LEARNING
Computer-based training (CBT), online learning, e-learning, and web-based training refer to instruction and delivery of training by computer through the Internet or the web.12 All of these training methods can include and integrate into instruction text, interaction using simulations and games, and video, and collaboration using blogs, wikis, and social networks, and hyperlinks to additional resources. In some types of CBT, content is provided stand-alone using software or DVDs with no connection to the Internet. Trainees can still interact with the training content, answer questions, and choose responses regarding how they would behave in certain situations, but they cannot collaborate with other learners. For example, Wipro Technologies developed a tool they call a Unified Learning Kit (ULK), a portable laptop programmable computer that enables new employees to experiment in engineering subjects.13 One ULK can teach more than ten different technical subjects related to hardware and software engineering.
Online learning, e-learning, and web-based training all include delivery of instruction using the Internet or web. The training program can be accessed using a password through the public Internet or the company’s private intranet. There are many potential features that can be included in online learning to help trainees learn and transfer training to their jobs. For example, online programs that use video may make it an interactive experience for trainees. That is, trainees watch the video and have the opportunity to use the keyboard or touch the screen to answer questions, provide responses to how they would act in certain situations, or identify the steps they would take to solve a problem. Interactive video is especially valuable for helping trainees learn technical or interpersonal skills. Online learning can also include opportunities to collaborate with other learners through discussion boards, wikis, and blogs. We discuss more of the potential features and advantages of online learning next.
For example, during training needs assessment, Bayer Pharmaceuticals discovered that its technical experts needed new skills to manage large projects.14 These skills related to keeping project managers focused on the task, managing competing priorities, managing large cross-functional teams, and supervising employees who did not report to them. These skills are important to reduce the time needed to bring research discoveries to the marketplace. To train in these skills, Bayer used a computer-based simulation that requires teams of trainees to manage a large-scale project. The management decisions they make affect their odds of being successful. A computer calculates each team’s probability of succeeding. The simulation includes obstacles that can affect a project negatively, such as unmotivated employees, absenteeism, and projects being completed late. The simulation also includes online work that trainees complete prior to training. The prework provides trainees with an overview of the steps involved in project management. All trainees complete a self-assessment of their team-related behavior (e.g., conflict resolution). The assessments are used for discussing leader/team-member relationships. After completing the simulation, trainees can access a program website that includes a newsletter and tips for project management. Employees who have completed the simulation are demonstrating increased confidence in their ability to manage a project and to handle changing priorities, and they are addressing team issues more quickly.
Discover Financial Services uses online training to teach new customer service representatives self-reliance, self-direction, creative problem solving, and how to satisfy the customer.15 An online syllabus provides trainees with expectations, goals, and links to access coursework. Trainees can ask questions and share experiences using online discussions. Each trainee has an advisor whose job is to help them set learning goals, evaluate their performance, and provide coaching. Also, trainees participate in an online game daily, monthly, and between customer calls.
Potential Features of Online Learning
In online learning, it is possible to enable learners to interact with the training content and other learners and to decide how they want to learn.16 Figure 8.3 shows the possible features that can be built into online learning. These features include content, collaboration341and sharing, links to resources, learner control, delivery, and administration. It is important to note that not all these features are incorporated into online learning methods. One reason is that certain methods make it difficult to incorporate some of these features. For example, as you will see later in the chapter, distance learning that involves teleconferencing may limit the amount of collaboration between trainees and the instructor. Also, in distance learning, trainees do not have control over the content, practice, and speed of learning. Another reason why a feature may not be incorporated is that the designers may have chosen not to include it. Although e-learning can include all the features to facilitate learning that are shown in Figure 8.3, it may fall short of its potential because, for example, program developers do not include opportunities for trainees to collaborate. As Figure 8.3 shows, not only can online learning provide the trainee with content, but it also can give learners the ability to control what they learn, the speed at which they progress through the program, how much they practice, and even when they learn. In addition, online learning can allow learners to collaborate or interact with other trainees and experts and can provide links to other learning resources such as reference materials, company websites, and other training programs. Text, video, graphics, and sound can be used to present course content. Also, simulations can be included in e-learning modules to engage learners. Economical Insurance developed a safety procedures course for risk control inspectors that includes embedded simulations.17 The simulations allow the learner to practice each step in safety procedures by using the mouse to mimic different had movements. All learners received a perfect score on mandatory testing and most reported that the simulations were effective in understanding the safety procedures and helped them engage in more safe behaviors. Online learning may also include various aspects of training administration such as course enrollment, testing and evaluating trainees, and monitoring of trainees’ learning progress.
FIGURE 8.3 Potential Features of E-learning
Advantages of Online Learning
The possible features that can be built into online learning give it potential advantages over other training methods. The advantages of e-learning are shown in Table 8.3. E-learning initiatives are designed to contribute to a company’s strategic business objectives.18 E-learning supports company initiatives such as expanding the number of customers, initiating new ways to carry out business such as e-business (providing products and342services through the internet), and speeding the development of new products or services. E-learning may involve a larger audience than traditional training programs that focus on employees. E-learning may involve partners, suppliers, vendors, and potential customers.
TABLE 8.3 Advantages of E-learning
It supports the company’s business strategy and objectives.
It is accessible at any time and any place.
The audience can include employees and managers, as well as vendors, customers, and clients.
Training can be delivered to geographically dispersed employees.
Training can be delivered faster and to more employees in a shorter period of time.
Updating is easy.
Practice, feedback, objectives, assessment, and other positive features of a learning environment can be built into the program. Learning is enhanced through the use of multiple media (sound, text, video, graphics, etc.) and trainee interaction.
Paperwork related to training management (enrollment, assessment, etc.) can be eliminated.
It can link learners to other content, experts, and peers.
Sources: Based on D. Hartley, “All aboard the e-learning train,” Training and Development (July 2000): 37–42; V. Beer, The Web Learning Field Book: Using the World Wide Web to Build Workplace Learning Environments (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2000).
E-learning allows faster and more efficient delivery of training and reduces geographic and time constraints for employees’ learning. Consider the advantages of e-learning for Jiffy Lube, Greyhound Lines, and the San Diego Zoo.19 Jiffy Lube determined that its instructor-led leadership training class needed to be updated to include new information but not to expand the class beyond its current three days. As a result, content on time management, goal setting, and financials was moved to e-learning, which freed up more than eight hours in the class. Also, Jiffy Lube realized a 75 percent increase in the number of employees who completed the new e-learning courses. Greyhound Lines, the transportation company, has geographically dispersed employees including supervisors, field representatives, counter and customer service staff, and bus drivers who work around the clock every day of the year. Greyhound uses e-learning to give employees access to leadership, business, and customer service skills courses when they need them. Employees access the courses on the company’s learning management system. The learning management system allows Greyhound to track assignments, course participation, and monitor employees’ progress in a course. Course assignments are made available on the learning management system with automatic reminders sent to the trainees. Greyhound plans to provide iPhones to its bus drivers to make it easier for them to access e-learning. Historically, the San Diego Zoo used formal classroom training to provide its animal care staff with knowledge and skills in care and feeding of animal, regulatory requirements, safety procedures, conservation, education, animal enrichment, and customer service. However, they realized that they needed more cost-effective training and a strategy on how to teach animal care staff who have varied work schedules, are impossible to get together in one place for training, and prefer hands-on learning. Thirteen courses that would serve as basic courses were identified. They covered transmission of diseases such as swine flu, avian flu, and West Nile viruses, compliance with government regulations, working safely with dangerous animals, and the fundamentals of animal behavior, care, and management. Subject-matter experts were identified and provided course content. Instructional designers worked with the content and developed it into an interactive online format. The online training included video case studies, used rich visuals, illustrated facts and concepts, and used module organization to ensure the training was the right length and did not overload the learner’s memory. Also, following the presentation of material, the online training included interactive assessment, which provided the learner with feedback and positive reinforcement and learning guidance in the form of advanced organizers about topics to be covered and how mastery of one topic could help improve mastery of the next topic.
Some companies have training requirements that all employees have to complete for the company to meet quality or legal requirements. Online learning allows more employees to gain access to these types of programs in a quicker time period than if face-to-face instruction is used. A grocery store chain had to train its pharmacy staff about the privacy rules that were part of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). To quickly train the staff, a training course was posted online, making it easier for employees to access it through a laptop computer, cash register, smartphone, or iPad.20 Online training allows retailers such as Luxottica, the eyewear and optical company, the ability to343track who enrolls and complete online courses that are required for certification to some positions (such as licensed opticians).
E-learning is also easy to update, thanks to user-friendly authoring languages such as HTML. Changes can be made on the server that stores the e-learning program. Employees worldwide can access the updated program. The administrative features of e-learning make training management a more efficient, paperless process. For example, CCH developed Shared Learning, an online administration module that allows companies to monitor employees’ completion of e-learning. It tracks how many times employees complete the same class and how much time employees spend per class, and it bookmarks the point at which trainees leave an online class so they can enter the program at the place they left it when they again begin training.21
Effectiveness of Online Learning
Is e-learning effective for all types of learning outcomes and trainees? Both research and company experiences suggest that e-learning is effective for a wide range of outcomes, including knowledge, skills, and behaviors.22 Table 8.4 shows some of the research results regarding the effectiveness of online learning compared to other training methods. Online learning may be most effective for training that emphasizes cognitive outcomes, such as declarative and procedural knowledge (recall the discussion of learning outcomes in Chapters Four, “Learning and Transfer of Training,” and Six, “Training Evaluation”). Courses need to comply with laws and regulations (such as sexual harassment or fraud) or software/technical skill-building courses such as Windows or Java may be best suited for online learning especially if these courses are video based and allow employees to apply the lesson on their own computer. For example, Allied Bank, based in Pakistan, used e-learning to meet federal law requiring bank employees to identify and report money laundering and funding for terrorism.23 Designers created a learning portal in both English and Urdu344for employees so they could take training based on the language they understood. This reduced travel expenses related to attending training from $420,000 to $218,000, lowered training costs per employee from $250 to $150, and increased the number of employees who received training from 6,500 to 9,200 in one year. Jiffy Lube offers thirteen e-learning courses as part of its management certification program. These courses could be taught using face-to-face instruction but Jiffy Lube believes that the content is easily communicated and understood in an interactive e-learning course.24 However, at Jiffy Lube learners encounter other topics that benefit from discussion, collaboration, role-play, and problem solving such as change management, performance management, and building a team, so they are trained using a combination of online learning and face-to-face instruction.
TABLE 8.4 Research Results Regarding the Effectiveness of Online Learning
· Online instruction is more effective than face-to-face classroom instruction for teaching declarative knowledge (cognitive knowledge assessed using written tests designed to measure whether trainees remember concepts presented in training).
· Web-based instruction and classroom instruction are equally effective in teaching procedural knowledge (the ability of learners to perform the skills taught in training).
· Learners are equally satisfied with web-based and classroom instruction.
· Web-based instruction appears to be more effective than classroom instruction (1) when learners are provided with control over content, sequence, and pace; (2) in long courses; and (3) when learners are able to practice the content and receive feedback.
· Web-based instruction and classroom instruction are equally effective when similar instructional methods are used (e.g., both approaches use video, practice assignments, and learning tests).
· The employees who get the most from online learning are those who complete more of the available practice opportunities and take more time to complete the training.
· E-learning is not effective for all learners, especially those with low computer self-efficacy.
Sources: Based on K. Kraiger, “Transforming our models of learning and development: Web-based instruction as enabler of third-generation instruction,” Industrial Organizational Psychology 1 (2008): 454–467; T. Sitzmann et al., “The comparative effectiveness of web-based and classroom instruction: A meta-analysis,” Personnel Psychology 59 (2006): 623–634; E. Welsh et al., “E-learning: Emerging uses, empirical results and future directions,” International Journal of Training and Development 7 (2003): 245–258.
Online learning may facilitate greater social interaction between trainees than face-to-face learning methods because other trainees are equally accessible or more accessible than the instructor and there are more methods available that allow learners to interact, such as e-mail, blogs, wikis, and chat rooms.25 Also, trainees may be more motivated to participate because they avoid feelings of inadequacy and low self-confidence, which can hinder participation in face-to-face learning. Delaware North Companies (DNC), a hospitality and food services company based in Buffalo, New York, provides hospitality and food services to national parks, stadiums, and airports. DNC delivers self-paced interactive training via the web, followed by virtual classes.26 At DNC, soft skills, such as managing a team, effective communication techniques, delegation, empowerment, and conflict resolution, have been identified as best for online training. Functional and technical skills have been found to be best suited for OJT.
In considering whether to move some or all training online, there are several things you have to consider.27 First, is whether online training relates to business goals or employees learning needs. Online training can save costs without compromising quality and provide access to employees who have difficulties attending face-to-face training because of their schedules or locations. Moving training online likely will result in development costs related to designing or purchasing training and providing access. One estimate is that it takes eight hours of development time for one hour of face-to-face instruction but that number can be much higher depending on the sophistication and complexity of the online course. It is also important to consider if employees will be resistant to using online training because of personal preferences or lack of familiarity with training technology. If online training is developed, employees need to know why it is being used, how they can use it to meet their learning needs, how to find courses, and how to gain the most benefits from them.
Despite the increasing popularity of online learning, many companies such as Home Depot, Inc., Recreational Equipment, Inc., and Qwest Communications International still prefer face-to-face training methods for teaching skills for complex jobs involving selling and repairing equipment.28 Online learning is used to train employees when their job requires them to use a standard set of facts or procedures. For example, Recreational Equipment, Inc., uses role-playing between new employees and trainers who simulate a wide range of customer behaviors, helping them understand the difference between customers who want a specific product and customers who want to discuss different product choices. Qwest Communications estimates that 80 percent of training in its network department is completed face to face, compared to 20 percent online. To learn how to fix and install equipment, the company believes that employees must have hands-on experience that is345similar to what they will encounter working in homes and commercial locations. Online learning may be valuable, but it is insufficient for teaching complex analytical, conceptual, and interpersonal skills.29 This may be because online learning lacks communication richness, some online learners may be reluctant to interact with other learners, and, although online learning increases accessibility to training, employees with busy work schedules have a greater opportunity to more easily delay, fail to complete, or poorly perform learning activities. Later in the chapter, we discuss how online learning can be combined with face-to-face instruction, known as blended learning, to take advantage of the strengths of both methods. Learning can be enhanced by combining face-to-face instruction and e-learning because learners are more engaged; the use of video, graphics, sound, and text is combined with active learning experiences such as cases, role-playing, and simulations. Also, blended learning provides opportunities for learners to practice, ask questions, and interact with other learners and peers both face to face and online.
DEVELOPING EFFECTIVE ONLINE LEARNING
Table 8.5 provides tips for developing effective online learning.30 The training design or ADDIE model discussed in Chapter One, “Introduction to Employee Training and Development,” should still be used in designing e-learning. However, the emphasis at each stage should be slightly different.31 Needs assessment, creating a positive online learning experience, learner control, and providing time and space for online learning are three central issues that need to be addressed for effective online learning, including web-based training.
Needs assessment includes getting management to support online learning. Also, the information technology department needs to be involved in the design of any web-based program to ensure that the technology capabilities of the company network are understood, to guarantee that trainees can get access to the browsers and connections that they need to participate in e-learning and use all of the tools (e.g., e-mail, chat rooms, hyperlinks) that may accompany it, and to get technical support when needed. Online tutorials may be needed to acquaint trainees with the capabilities of the e-learning system and how to navigate the web. Recall from Chapter Three, “Needs Assessment,” that a needs assessment determines the company’s resources for training and the tasks to be trained for, and it analyzes the employees who may need training. The needs assessment process for web-based training or any other type of online learning should include a technology assessment (as part of the organizational analysis) and an assessment of the skills that users need for online training (person analysis). This should include a technical analysis focused on identifying minimum computing requirements (bandwidth, memory, hard drive space, software, processing speed).
Bandwidth refers to the number of bytes and bits (information) that can travel between computers per second. Graphics, photos, animation, and video in courses can be slow to download and can “crash” the system. Online learning courses should be designed for the available bandwidth on the company’s system. Bandwidth can be increased by upgrading access speed on the users’ computers, buying and installing faster servers and switches (computer hardware) on the company’s network, or encouraging trainees to access the web when demand is not high.32 Soon bandwidth may not be an issue because computer servers will be able to transfer more data faster, personal computers will have greater processing speed, and cables and wireless communications systems that carry data will have greater capacity. Online learning should also try to build in interactivity without requiring the use of plug-ins. A plug-in refers to additional software that needs to be loaded on the computer to listen to sound, watch video, or perform other functions. Plug-ins can be expensive because they may require the company to pay licensing fees. Plug-ins also can affect how the computer processes tasks. If trainees experience repeated technology problems (such as slow download times, network downtimes, or plug-in difficulties), they are likely to lose patience and be reluctant to participate in online learning.
TABLE 8.5 Tips for Developing Effective Online Learning
Needs assessment Identify the connection between online learning and the needs of the business. Get management to buy in.
Make sure that employees have access to technology and technology support.
Consult with information technology experts about system requirements.
Identify specific training needs (knowledge, skills, competencies, behaviors).
If needed, train learners on computer and Internet basics.
Creating a positive learning experience Incorporate learning principles (practice, feedback, meaningful material, an appeal to active learner involvement, and an appeal to multiple senses).
Design the course for the available bandwidth (or increase the available bandwidth to suit the course needs).
Use games and simulations, which are attractive to learners.
Structure materials properly.
Allow trainees the opportunity to communicate and collaborate with each other and with the trainer, experts, or facilitators.
Make the program user-friendly: Learning modules should be kept short, the content should not overload trainees, and webpages should not be confusing.
Provide incentives for completing training.
Keep each instructional segment self-contained.
“Chunk” training modules.
Create smooth transitions between instructional segments.
Any audio, video, or animation should be useful to the learner; otherwise, it is a waste of time and bandwidth.
Provide the developer/producer with clear specifications regarding required file formats, maximum file sizes, window and image dimensions, navigation, screen fonts, and available bandwidth.
Provide writers and instructional designers with clear guidelines for the maximum number of words per screen, how many interactive exercises to include, and which exercises are best suited to the content.
Conduct a formative evaluation (pilot test) before large scale use of online learning.
Provide time and space under learner control Provide learners with control, including the opportunity to skip sections or modules and the ability to pause, bookmark, review, and return to where they left off.
Give learners dedicated training time to participate in online learning.
Sources: Based on K. Dobbs, “What the online world needs now: Quality,” Training (September 2000): 84–94; P. Galagan, “Getting started with e-learning.” Training and Development (May 2000): 62–64; D. Zielinski, “Can you keep learners online?” training (March 2000): 65–75; V. Beer, The Web Learning Field Book: Using the World Wide Web to Build Workplace Learning Environments (San Francisco Jossey-Bass, 2000); E. Zimmerman, “Better training is just a click away,” Workforce (January 2001): 36–42; R. Clark and R. Mayer, E-Learning and the Science of Instruction (San Francisco: John Wiley, 2003); E. Salas, R. DeRouin, and L. Littrell, “Research-Based Guidelines for Designing Distance Learning: What We Know So Far.” In The Brave New World of eHR, ed. H. Gueutal and D. Stone (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2005): 104–137; S. Boehle, “Putting the learning back into e-learning,” training (January 2006): 29–35; A Rossett and L. Schafer, “What to do about e-dropouts,” T+D (June 2003): 40–46; M. Morrison, “Leaner e-learning,” training (January 2008): 16–18; M. Allen, “The return of serious design,” Chief Learning Officer (July 2014): 31–33.
Grant Thornton LLP, a global accounting, tax, and business advisory firm, created Grant Thornton University (GTU), one place for all of its employees’ training needs.33 Through GTU, employees can register for any course, whether it is classroom-based or online, and have access to more than 1,000 hours of self-paced, live webcasts and virtual classroom courses. To ensure that GTU was successful, the company investigated its business learning needs and the best delivery method for each topic (a needs assessment). Learning paths are broken down by competencies and skill requirements and are related to job performance. For example, if employees receive performance feedback suggesting that they need to improve their teamwork skills, managers can identify an appropriate course by position and required competencies. A combination of self-paced lessons and live virtual classroom is the optimal instructional method. The self-paced lessons deliver content, and the live training is used for question-and-answer sessions and case studies. Live training also provides trainees with the opportunity to interact with peers and course experts. To obtain support for GTU, the company’s chief learning officer invited managers to participate in a virtual kickoff from their desktop personal computers. The kickoff covered the strategic goals of the initiative, showed managers how the technology worked, and let them sample various content.
Creating a Positive Online Learning Experience
In the design and development phase, the characteristics of a positive learning environment discussed in Chapters Four and Five (e.g., objectives, practice, interaction) should be included to help aid retention of learning content and create a meaningful experience that motivates learners. Flowcharts or storyboards should be created that include all of the course components such as a main menu, modules, webpages for each lesson, assessments, discussion forums, images, color specifications, and help menus. Rapid prototyping should be used for designing the program.34 Rapid prototyping refers to an iterative process in which initial design ideas are proposed and provided in rough form in an online working prototype that is reviewed and refined by design team members and key learning stakeholders. Watching how the users interact with the prototype provides feedback about how easy (or difficult) it is to navigate through the course and understand its contents, elements, and instructions. Also, multiple types of media should be chosen in order to appeal to different learning styles to the greatest possible extent. This includes text, animation, pictures, video, audio, games, simulations, or even e-books. E-learning should be designed to minimize content or work that is unrelated to the learning objectives. Extraneous content may take up trainees’ limited cognitive processing resources, resulting in less learning. Table 8.6 provides several design principles that should be considered to create a positive online learning experience.
Remember that just putting text online isn’t necessarily an effective way to learn. Repurposing refers to directly translating an instructor-led, face-to-face training program to an online format. Online learning that merely repurposes an ineffective training program will still result in ineffective training. Unfortunately, in their haste to develop online learning, many companies are repurposing bad training. The best e-learning uses the advantages of the Internet in combination with the principles of a good learning environment. Effective online learning takes advantage of the web’s dynamic nature and ability to use many positive learning features, including linking to other training sites and content through the use of hyperlinks, providing learner control, and allowing the trainee to collaborate with other learners. Effective online learning uses video, sound, text, and graphics to hold learners’ attention. Effective online learning provides trainees with meaningful content related to realistic on-the-job activities, relevant examples, and the ability to apply content to work problems and issues. Also, trainees have opportunities to practice and receive feedback through the use of problems, exercises, assignments, and tests.
TABLE 8.6 Principles for Creating a Positive Learning Experience
Instruction includes relevant visuals and words.
Text is aligned close to visuals.
Complex visuals are explained by audio or text, rather than by both text and audio that narrates the text.
Extraneous visuals, words, and sounds are omitted.
Learners are socially engaged through conversational language agents.
Key concepts are explained prior to the full process or task associated with the concepts.
Prompts are provided that encourage self-regulation.
Content is presented in short sequences over which learners have control.
Activities and exercises that mimic the context of the job are provided.
Explanations are provided for learner responses to quizzes and exercises.
Exercises are distributed within and among the module(s) rather than in a single place.
Sources: Based on R. Clark and R. Mayer, “Learning by doing: Evidence-based guidelines for principled learning environments,” Performance Improvement 47 (2008): 5–13; R. Mayer, “Applying the science of learning: Evidence-based principles for the design of multimedia instruction,” American Psychologist (November 2008): 760–769; R. Clark and R. Mayer, E-Learning and the Science of Instruction, 2d ed. (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer, 2008); T. Sitz Mann and K. Ely. “Sometimes you need a reminder: The effects of prompting self-regulation on regulatory processes, learning, and attrition.” Personnel Psychology 95 (2010): 132–144.
To ensure that materials are not confusing or overwhelming to the learner, online learning content needs to be properly arranged.35An orientation to the new program should be provided to learners to explain how to learn online, how to get help, and how to interact with peers, trainers, and facilitators.36 Participants should be provided with an overview of the course or program and success factors for completion. After an e-learning program is implemented, the focus should shift to on how to best distribute, maintain, update, and improve it. Evaluation still involves collecting some combination of reaction, learning, behavior, and results outcomes, including an emphasis on questions related to the number and quality of the interactive exercises and multimedia and the ease of use of the navigation tools. Materials in online learning need to be organized in small, meaningful modules of information. Each module should relate to one idea or concept. The modules should be connected in a way that encourages the learner to be actively involved in learning. Active involvement may include asking trainees to find resources on the Internet, try quizzes or games, choose between alternative actions, or compare what they know to the knowledge of an expert or model. Objectives, videos, practice exercises, links to material that elaborates on the module content, and tests should be accessible within each module. The modules should be linked in an arrangement that makes sense, such as by importance or by the order in which content has to be learned (prerequisites). Trainees can choose to skip over material that they are familiar with or that they are competent in, based on a test of the content, or they can return to modules they need more practice in.
As mentioned earlier in the chapter learner control refers to giving trainees the option to learn actively though self-pacing, exercises, exploring links to other material, and conversations with other trainees and experts. Simply providing learner control does not ensure that trainees will use all the features provided by online learning (e.g., practice exercises).37 Trainees should have access to instructions on how to use learner control tools, or else difficulty using them will take away from time and attention that they can devote to learning. Companies must communicate the importance and meaningfulness of the training content for employees’ jobs and must hold employees accountable for completing the training.
Research provides several recommendations for maximizing the benefits of learner control.38 Training programs should not allow trainees to control the amount of feedback they receive because they may rely too much on the feedback, reducing their long-term retention of the training material. The program should offer practice on each topic repeatedly throughout the program so that trainees will not forget topics they have already completed. The program should provide practice to trainees using different examples to help the transfer of training content (skills or knowledge), not only to the full range of situations that trainees may encounter on the job, but also to unexpected situations. Trainees should be allowed to control the sequence in which they receive instruction but not be able to skip practice. Prompting self-regulation improves performance in online training. As was discussed in Chapter Four, self-regulation refers to the learner’s involvement with the training material and assessing their progress toward learning. Online prompts asking trainees to recall key points or to set goals to help them use and remember the content after the course will help trainees remember the key principles/objectives presented in training and how to apply their knowledge and skills.
Provide Time and Space for Online Learning
Using formative evaluation of prototypes of web training can be helpful in identifying the appropriate length and time of modules (formative evaluations were discussed in Chapter Six). End users (managers, potential trainees) should be involved in a formative evaluation to ensure that music, graphics, icons, animation, video, and other features facilitate rather than interfere with learning. Also, end users need to test the content, the navigator, and the site map to guarantee that they can easily move through the learning module and access resources and links to other websites as needed. Online learning blurs the distinction between training and work. Expectations that trainees will be motivated and able to complete web-based training during breaks in their normal workday or on their personal time are unrealistic.39 Companies need to ensure that employees are given time and space for e-learning to occur.40 That is, employees need dedicated time, protected from work tasks, for learning to occur. As with other training programs, employees need to understand why they should attend e-learning and the benefits they will receive so as to enhance their motivation to learn. Accurate communications about the content and types of learning activities in e-learning courses need to be provided to employees.41 Managers need to give employees time in their schedules, and employees need to schedule “training time” to complete training and avoid interruptions that can interfere with learning. Some companies are moving away from their initial expectation that online learning can be completed at the employee’s desktop without time away from the job; instead, they are setting up learning labs for online learning to occur without the distractions of the workplace. “Chunking,”350or using one- to two-hour training modules, helps trainees learn and retain more than they might in a standard full-day or half-day training class. Training can also be more easily integrated into the typical workday. Trainees can devote one to two hours to a learning session from their office and then return to their work responsibilities.
Technology for Collaboration and Linking
Chapter Four emphasized that learning often occurs as a result of interaction or sharing between employees. Employees learn by informal, unstructured contact with experts and peers. Collaboration can involve an exchange among two or more trainees or among the trainer or other experts. Linking includes the use of hyperlinks.
Hyperlinks are links that allow a trainee to access other websites that include printed materials, as well as communications links to experts, trainers, and other learners. Owens Corning’s learning resource home page has hyperlinks to all available forms of training information, including CD-ROM, web-based, and trainer-led programs. The site supports online course registration and allows tests to be sent to trainees, scored, and used to register trainees in appropriate courses.42
Research suggests that the reason some employees fail to complete online learning and prefer instructor-led face-to-face instruction over online learning is that they want to be able to learn and network with their peers.43 Effective online learning connects trainees and facilitates interaction and sharing through the use of collaborative learning tools such as chat rooms, discussion boards, or social media. Other methods for learner interaction and sharing include having trainees participate in collaborative online projects and receive tutoring, coaching, and mentoring by experts. Online learning also should provide a link between the trainees and the “instructor,” who can answer questions, provide additional learning resources, and stimulate discussion between trainees on topics such as potential applications of the training content and common learning problems.
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)
Massive open online courses (MOOCs) refers to learning that is designed to enroll large number of learners (massive), it is free and accessible to anyone with an Internet connection (open), it takes place online using videos of lectures, interactive coursework including discussion groups, and wikis (online), and it has specific start and completion dates, quizzes and assessment, and exams (courses).44 MOOCs cover a wide variety of subject matter, including chemistry, math, physics, computer science, philosophy, mythology, health policy, cardiac arrest and resuscitation, and even poetry! Popular providers of MOOCs include Coursera, edX (nonprofit founded by Harvard and MIT), and Udacity (a for-profit company founded by a Stanford University research professor and founder of Google X Labs). The courses are often developed in partnership with colleges and universities, and, recently, private companies.
The interest in MOOCs likely originated in a free 2011 Stanford University class, Introduction to Artificial Intelligence, that had 160,000 students.45 Since then, colleges and universities have partnered with MOOC providers to offer free or low-cost online courses, which learners can complete and earn certificates or even college credit if they pass a credential exam. Typically, there is a registration fee to take the exam. The fees range from tens to hundreds of dollars depending on the course length and content. What are the characteristics of learners who participate in MOOCs? Typically, the learners have already351graduated from college and are taking the course to explore an interest or develop their skills, although the numbers of undergrads taking courses has increased. MOOCs have been able to attract huge numbers of learners. For example, Coursera estimates that it has attracted over 5 million learners based in the United States and around the world.
Companies are starting to work with the MOOC providers to design custom courses or to create their own MOOCs that can help them meet their skill needs.46 Also edX is working with UPS, Procter & Gamble, and Walmart to design computer science and supply-chain management courses. Learners can take the course and complete a test that will earn them a certificate. BloomNet partnered with Udemy (an online course provider) to offer management and finance courses to floral shop owners located across the United States.47 BloomNet also created custom courses focused on skills related to the floral industry. For some courses, employees take prerequisite courses on Udemy before they take instructor-led courses offered by BloomNet. Aquent, a staffing firm, was having difficulty meeting client needs for HTML5 developers.48 To try to find a way to meet this need, Aquent created a MOOC on HTML5. More than ten thousand people registered for the class. Of the 367 who took the final exam, Aquent was able to place almost two-thirds of them in jobs with clients. Udacity is offering an online master’s degree program with the Georgia Institute of Technology.49 The program fees are less than one-third of in-state fees and one-seventh of out-of-state fees. It is the first accredited degree to be offered by a MOOC provider. The Georgia Tech professor will admit students and teach the courses, students will get the Georgia State diploma, and Udacity hosts the course material. AT&T is paying for the program expenses because it will give the company access to a talent pool of trained engineers. AT&T also plans to send some of its employees to the program.
MOOCs have several advantages and disadvantages.50 Their low cost, accessibility, and wide range of topics make them attractive to learners. They include many features that facilitate learning and transfer: Learning is interactive and learner-controlled; it involves social interaction and emphasizes application. Learning happens through engaging short lectures combined with interaction with the course materials, interaction with other students and the instructor. It emphasizes applying knowledge and skills using role-plays, cases, and projects. It is semi-synchronous, meaning that learners receive the same assignments, video lectures, readings, quizzes, and discussions, but they can complete the coursework on their own time. Also, many MOOCs offer college credit or certificates of completion, which provide incentives for learning and formal acknowledgment. However, despite claims that MOOCs will revolutionize training and education, they have significant disadvantages. Among those who enroll in MOOCs, their interaction with the course tends to drop off after the first two weeks of the course; course completion rates are low (10 to 20 percent); and most students who complete the courses don’t take the credential exam. MOOCs may also be inappropriate for courses where synchronous or real-time collaboration or interaction is needed.
To enhance their chances of being effective, MOOCs need to provide an interesting and engaging lecture that is broken up into quizzes and problem sets that learners must complete before they can progress. Learners who complete course topics should be provided with incentives such as badges. Visual meters should be used to provide feedback on progress toward completing the course. The course also needs to include interaction through discussion boards, and interactive videos. Also, learners need to have the technological skills and technology capability needed to access the MOOC, view videos, and participate in online discussions.
SOCIAL MEDIA: WIKIS, BLOGS, MICROBLOGS, AND SOCIAL NETWORKS
Social media are online and mobile technology used to create interactive communications allowing the creation and exchange of user-generated content.51 They include blogs, wikis, networks such as Facebook, and LinkedIn, microsharing sites such as Twitter, and shared media such as YouTube. Social media can be useful for:
- Providing links to resources such as webinars, videos, and articles related to new learning content
- Helping determine future training needs and issues by using tagging capabilities
- Reinforcing and sustaining learning
- Being used as a coaching and mentoring tool
- Linking learners before, during, and after a formal training event
- Engaging Generation X and millennial employees
- Providing content before a face-to-face learning event
A blog refers to a webpage where an author posts entries and readers often can comment. There are many different types of blogs, including personal blogs written by one person, company blogs used for marketing and branding purposes, topic blogs focusing on a specific topic area, and blogs based on media (video blogs) and devices (mobile device blog). There are several considerations for effectively using blogs in training.52 For a blog to be useful for training, it should be related to the learning objectives; otherwise, trainees will find it to be “busy work” and fail to see its benefits. Blogs can be especially useful for trainees to analyze and synthesize information, for learners to reflect on the lesson or course content, and to share ideas and applications of learning content. Instructors need to provide timely and relevant feedback on blog entries. Also, instructors must provide guidelines regarding how blog entries will be evaluated or what types of blog entries are desired (e.g., new ideas, application-related, “what did I learn?”). Blogs can also be useful for training courses involving group work such as projects and cases. Blogs provide a way for team members to share comments, insights, and even get involved in brainstorming.
A wiki refers to a website that allows many users to create, edit, and update content and share knowledge. A microblog or microsharing refers to software tools such as Twitter that enable communications in short bursts of text, links, and multimedia either through stand-alone applications or through online communities or social networks. Shared media refers to audio or video such as YouTube that can be accessed and shared with others.
How are social media being used for learning, training, and development? Many companies are using social networking tools to help employees learn informally and share knowledge both on an as-needed basis and as part of formal training courses.
Consider the following companies and nonprofit organizations’ use of social networking tools.53 Humana, a health-care company, has a social learning platform, known as the Knowledge Exchange, which is designed to build online communities to help employees learn from one another. For example, one hundred employees from different departments, business units, and jobs interacting with each other using Knowledge Exchange identified data visualization as an interest and common learning need. They collaborated,353identified learning resources, and learned from each other about data visualization. They used the skills they learned to develop a data visualization product that used the group members’ survey results about the effectiveness of the course. Every new employee at Cisco is trained about the appropriate use of social media. Cisco’s employees have several tools they can use to interact. An internal WebEx Social platform allows employees to collaborate in teams and get feedback from experts throughout the company. Employees can access a dashboard that lets them check newsfeeds, check meetings and calendars, and review work. General Electric Company created an internal social media platform called GE Collab that allows employees to follow each other, add hashtags to comments so they can be found in searches, and link discussions to documents.
Advantage Sales and Marketing (ASM), a sales and marketing agency based in Irvine, California, added social networking to its sales training program (Accelerated Career Excellence in Sales—ACES), which teaches individuals to become business development managers. The five-month learning program involves participants meeting face to face for a two-day training session and then returning to their home sales markets. The remaining time in the program is spent working in the field with mentors and completing online training modules. During the program, employees have access to the ACES workplace community online for interaction with senior sales leaders, peers, mentors, and other sales persons in the program. Adding the social networking platform to the training program has encouraged employees to share knowledge. For example, one learner in the program contacted all of the ACES mentors to identify best practices on a specific topic. He compiled this information into a document that he shared with the entire learner community. Verizon uses social networking tools to train employees to support new products and devices. Device Blog, Device Forum, and Learning Communities help ensure that employees are ready to support customers when new products and devices are introduced to the market, engages Verizon’s multigenerational workforce, and facilitates peer-to-peer learning. Device Blog makes available information and updates on wireless devices (such as the Droid), frequently asked questions (FAQs), how-to videos, and troubleshooting tips. Device Forums enable retail employees to learn from peers and product manufacturers. Employees can ask each other questions, share issues, post tips, make suggestions, and access product experts. Learning communities are accessed through the Device Blog. They include video blogs, message boards, links to online training modules, and product demonstrations. In addition to these tools, employees have access to My Network for collaborating with their peers, knowledge and document sharing, and creating working groups. Some instructors also use it for posting supplemental content for learners’ use.
IBM uses social media to connect its employees around the world. IBM’s site, known as w3, contributes to the global integration of the company. The w3 On Demand Workplace is a powerful productivity and collaboration tool for 400,000 IBM employees in seventy-five countries. The w3 can be used by employees to find resources and knowledge from peers around the world to help clients innovate and succeed. Employees can create personal profiles, bookmark websites and stories that they are interested in, comment on company blogs, contribute to wikis, share files, and read and review position papers, videos, and podcasts.
Special People in Northeast, Inc. (SPIN), a nonprofit organization that provides services to individuals with disabilities, makes webcasts as well as videos, how-to manuals, and process flowcharts electronically available to employees to ensure that knowledge354of key employees is documented and current practices and procedures are available and shared. Intel encourages informal learning two ways: through knowledge sharing and providing employees with “performer support.” Both knowledge sharing and performer support are part of Planet Blue, a social media platform for Intel employees. Employees also have access to Intelpedia, an internal wiki that employees can edit. Intelpedia has millions of pages, and thousands of employees have contributed to it. Intelpedia helped create a culture for using technology-based information-sharing solutions at Intel.
How would you determine if social media would be an effective learning tool in a company? Table 8.7 shows the questions to ask to address this issue. The more “yes” answers to these questions, the more likely that social media will be an effective learning solution. The most important consideration is whether social media is already being used in the company, which would make it easier to determine how it fits into the company’s learning strategy and how easily it could be adapted to training.
It is important to support the use of social media and to consider if the ideas, content, and recommendations provided in social media are high quality and match company priorities: At Evans Analytical Group (EAG), a high-tech analytical services company, is using social media to reduce the time it takes to locate subject-matter experts and to connect its globally dispersed employees.54 This is important because EAG’s eight hundred employees might not know about possible topic experts because the company has completed over twenty-five mergers and acquisitions during the past several years. Employees use Twitter, LinkedIn, or the company’s intranet to find and collaborate with subject-matter experts and acquire and contribute knowledge. Social media usage is also encouraged to reinforce knowledge and skills learned in training programs.
EAG supports the use of social media tools in several different ways. Employees are encouraged to use blogs and wikis by linking their usage to their performance appraisals, weekly recognition of employees with the highest weekly usage rates of social media tools is publicly done on the company’s intranet, and the CEO endorses using the tools at company meetings. To help employees understand how to use social media tools and their potential value, EAG provides training videos, tutorials, and frequently asked questions (FAQs) that employees can access on the intranet. To ensure that the tools are effective an employee steering committee conducts interviews and gathers survey data. For example, they compared knowledge retention between two groups of employees who collaborated after the received training. One group used blogs and wikis and the other group used355Chatter, a social collaboration tool. The knowledge retention scores did not differ between the two groups. However, 90 percent of the employees found the tools useful. IBM conducts expertise assessment to ensure the quality of the recommendations.55All employees conduct an annual self-evaluation that defines their skill level and ability to serve clients. The skills level choices include entry, foundational, experienced, expert, and thought leader. These rankings help employees find those who have the knowledge and experience that they need for a particular skill or solution. Self-evaluations of “thought leader” and “expert” are verified by a second line manager and SMEs. Also, it may also be necessary to have an editor monitor online postings to ensure that they reflect how the company wants to be perceived. The tradeoff of quality evaluations and monitoring is that they may inhibit collaboration and networking.
TABLE 8.7 Factors to Consider in Deciding to Use Social Media for Training and Learning
Are social networks already being used in the company?
Does social networking fit into the company’s learning strategy?
Are employees geographically dispersed?
Does the learning strategy support on-the-job learning?
Is there is a need to foster collaboration?
Are a significant number of employees from the millennial generation or Generation X?
Are employees comfortable using social networks?
Does the business require substantial teamwork?
Does knowledge need to be shared quickly?
Does the company value innovation?
Does the culture support decentralized decision making?
Sources: Based on T. Bingham and M. Conner, The New Social Learning (Alexandria, VA: American Society for Training and Development, 2010); M. Derven, “Social networking: A force for development?” T+D (July 2009): 59–63.
Because of the limitations of online learning related to technology (e.g., insufficient bandwidth and lack of high-speed web connections), trainee preference for face-to-face contact with instructors and other learners, and employees’ inability to find unscheduled time during their workday to devote to learning from their desktops, many companies are moving to a hybrid, or blended, learning approach. Blended learning combines online learning, face-to-face instruction, and other methods for distributing learning content and instruction. Blended learning courses provide learners with the positive features of both face-to-face instruction and technology-based delivery and instructional methods (such as online learning, distance learning, or mobile technologies like tablet computers or iPhones), while minimizing the negative features of each.56 In comparison to classroom delivery, blended learning provides increased learner control, allows for self-directedness, and requires learners to take more responsibility for their learning—all factors consistent with the recommendations of adult learning theory discussed in Chapter Four.57 In comparison to pure online learning, blended learning provides more face-to-face social interaction and ensures that at least some of the instruction is presented in a dedicated learning environment. Blended learning uses the classroom to allow learners to learn together and to discuss and share insights, which helps bring learning to life and make it meaningful. Live feedback from peers is preferable to feedback received online.58
One popular application of blended learning is the flipped classroom. The flipped classroom blends online and face-to-face instruction. Learners watch lectures, complete online simulations, read books and articles, take quizzes to assess their knowledge and skills, and come to class to work on projects and cases, hear speakers, and interact with faculty.59 The flipped classroom recognizes that face-to-face instruction using lectures can be effective when it is delivered to individual learners rather than to group of learners in the classroom. Lectures can be captured on video and delivered online. This frees up face-to-face classroom time for reinforcing and applying knowledge and skills. For example, consider how stylists are trained when a new product is introduced. Now, during a one-day training program, the morning is spent with a trainer presenting the features of the product followed by a demonstration of how to apply the product using a model. During the afternoon the stylists practice applying the product. Using a flipped classroom, stylists would view videos before coming to training. The training session would begin with a question-and-answer356session and then stylists would have the remaining day to work on the models with trainers and facilitators available to help. This would provide the stylists with more time to practice, observe other stylists and exchange ideas, and get feedback than in the traditional classroom training program. One of the keys for success of the flipped classroom is that learners must understand and complete the assigned content prior to coming to class. Although learners work by themselves online, it is important that the trainer be available via phone, e-mail, or chat room to answer the learners’ questions. Also, learners should be required to complete quizzes or exams and earn above a passing score before they can attend the classroom session. Blended learning has been found to be more effective than face-to-face instruction for motivating trainees to learn and for teaching declarative knowledge or information about ideas or topics.60 It appears that blended learning capitalizes on the positive learning features inherent in both face-to-face and web-based instruction. Interestingly, learners react more favorably toward classroom instruction than blended learning. This may be because blended learning courses are more demanding, requiring a greater time commitment because of the use of two learning approaches. Research suggests that the most significant issues or problems with blended learning are fast-changing technology, insufficient management support and commitment to blended learning, and a lack of understanding of what blended learning really is and how to implement it.61
The Water Quality Association (WQA) uses a blended learning approach to enable member companies to train and certify their employees, which include installers, service technicians, and sales representatives.62 The competency-based system includes learning paths that employees can follow to earn badges demonstrating they have attained competencies. The learning paths include structured on-the-job experiences using a mobile performance support knowledge base, coaching, self-study readings, and mini-tutorials. WQA tracks on-the-job experiences using a mobile e-portfolio that employees can use to complete a task checklist, take a photo of their work, and tag its locations.
The pharmaceutical and life sciences company Novartis has the Digital Acceleration Workshop, which is a blended learning program that includes three parts.63 First, employees complete four online self-study modules covering marketing and digital solutions for the pharmaceutical industry. Next, they attend two face-to-face sessions that use a case study to apply digital marketing opportunities. The last part of the program focuses on employees’ involvement sharing best practices using online learning site to ensure that employees engage in continuous learning about digital marketing. This allows Novartis to build its experience base across different markets, project teams, and brands. To help ensure that the program is successful, employees are quizzed one month after they attend the program to assess retained knowledge. Also, employees complete an action plan at the end of the program. The action plan is shared with their managers, who are asked to follow up with the employees to see if they are applying what they learned to their job.
SIMULATIONS AND GAMES
Simulations and games were introduced as a traditional training method in Chapter Seven. This chapter discusses how development in software and computer technology has improved the learning and transfer that can result from simulators and games. Simulation and games that can be delivered via a personal computer (or gaming technology such357as an Xbox immerse trainees in decision-making exercises in an artificial yet realistic environment that allow them to learn the consequences of their decisions. Simulation games are widely popular—one estimate is that 53 percent of adults play video games!64 Serious games refer to games in which the training content is turned into a game but has business objectives.65 “Gamification” means that game-based strategies are applied to e-learning programs. The key is to use the fun and motivational aspects of games to help employees acquire knowledge and skills. Table 8.8 shows four different types of simulations and games. Some simulations include virtual reality or take place in virtual worlds. Virtual reality is a computer-based technology that provides trainees with a three-dimensional learning experience. This allows simulations to become even more realistic. Using specialized equipment or viewing the immersive model on the computer screen, trainees move through the simulated environment and interact with its components.66Simulations allow the trainees to experience presence, which refers to perceptions of actually being in a particular environment. Presence is influenced by the amount of sensory information available to the trainee, control over the environment, and the ability to modify the environment. In simulations, presence can include trainees feeling a sense of motion or experiencing emotions such as anger from a customer or colleague. Poor presence may result in trainees experiencing vomiting, dizziness, headaches (simulator sickness), and frustration because senses are inappropriately distorted. Simulations can also take place in a virtual world. Virtual worlds refer to the computer-based, simulated online three-dimensional representation of the real world where learning programs can be hosted. Second Life, ProtoSphere, Forterra, and Virtual Heroes are examples of providers of virtual worlds.67 In virtual worlds, trainees use avatars to interact with each other in the classroom, webinars, or role-play exercise. An avatar refers to computer depictions of humans that are used as imaginary coaches, coworkers, customers, and instructors.68 Virtual worlds allow employees to learn alone, with their peers, or in teams. Virtual worlds such as Second Life can be used to create virtual classrooms, but their strength is its ability to get the learner actively involved in working with equipment, peers, or customers. For example, British Petroleum (BP) uses Second Life to train new gas station employees in the safety features of gasoline storage tanks and piping systems.69 BP’s virtual world includes three-dimensional replicas of the tank and pipe system at a gas station. Trainees are able to “see” the underground storage tanks and piping systems and observe how safety devices control gasoline flow—something they could never do in real life.
TABLE 8.8 Types of Simulations
Type of Simulation Description Branching story Trainees are presented with a situation and asked to make a choice or decision. Trainees progress through the simulation on the basis of their decisions. Interactive spreadsheet Trainees are given a set of business rules (usually finance-based) and asked to make decisions that will affect the business. The decisions are entered into a spreadsheet that shows how the decisions affect the business. Game-based Trainees play a video game on a computer. Virtual Trainees interact with a computer representation of the job for which they are being trained.
Sources: Based on C. Cornell, “Better than the real thing?” Human Resource Executive (August 2005): 34–37; S. Boehle, “Simulations: The next generation of e-learning,” Training (January 2005): 22–31.
The U.S. Army uses a three-dimensional virtual simulation to help soldiers correctly identify social networks and norms in an area of operations.70 The simulations reinforce classroom training. Participating in the simulation helps soldiers develop their critical thinking and cultural awareness skills by asking them to identify leaders and evaluate the area for criminal activities such as drug smuggling or human trafficking. The simulation is also based on local and cultural norms such as teenagers carrying assault rifles or perceptions that people outside of the ethnic or religious group are inferior. The simulation helps reduce the soldiers’ culture shock and perform more effectively when they are involved in actual operations. The simulation can include up to six square kilometers and thirty players. For example, a group of soldiers can enter a virtual village and, based on their interactions with the villagers, they draw a map of family, friends, foes, and personal and work relationships. Flight simulators including full motion and high-resolution graphics are recent additions to pilot training in the commercial helicopter industry.71 The simulators are intended to improve helicopters’ safety record. On average more than one major helicopter accident occurs each day somewhere in the world. Training accidents using actual helicopters account for approximately one-fourth of all commercial crashes. Buying or leasing a simulator can cost millions of dollars while contracting costs range between $1,000 and $1,500 per hour. But the cost is much less than the hourly cost of taking helicopters out of service to teach pilots. Also, in addition to cost savings, the simulators allow pilots to focus on important safety issues and emergency procedures that are impossible to replicate in an actual helicopter.
At NetApp Inc., twenty-five managers participated in a game in which they played the role of top executives in an imaginary company modeled after their employer.76359The managers worked in five-person teams and competed to produce the strongest sales and operating profit. They were faced with challenges such as balancing long-term investments against short-term results. Managers received information including market analyses based on actual NetApp data and a menu of strategic initiatives such as improving college recruiting. The teams had to choose strategies and allocate employees and money. They were given scenarios such as an important customer seeking to add last-minute product features; in responding, they had to decide whether to add the features (which included determining their related costs) or refuse and risk angering an important client. The teams saw the consequences of their decisions. For example, one team declined to add the product features, which resulted in a decline in customer satisfaction and market share. At the end of the simulation, the sales and total profits of each team, as well as the effects of their strategies, were discussed.
PPD is a global contract research organization that is involved in drug discovery, development, lifecycle management, and laboratory services. PPD’s clients and partners include pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical device, academic, and government organizations. PPD has offices in forty-six countries with more than thirteen thousand employees, making it critical that effective training could be delivered without travel and time demands. PPD used a virtual three-dimensional learning environment to deliver its Clinical Foundations Program.77 PPD created a virtual doctor’s office, as well as reception, training, and conference rooms. Both trainees and instructors communicate and interact using avatars. Excel, PowerPoint, and video can also be used along with the virtual universe. PPD found that the virtual training improved the cost-effectiveness, speed, and employees’ accessibility to training. Eighty percent of trainees who participated in virtual programs prefer it to classroom training and 95 percent felt they were more engaged than in traditional instruction.
As you can see from these examples, simulations can be effective for several reasons.78 First, trainees can use them on their desktop or notebook computer, eliminating the need to travel to a central training location. Second, simulations are meaningful, they get trainees involved in learning, and they are emotionally engaging (they can even be fun!). This increases employees’ willingness to practice, encourages retention, improves their skills, and enhances transfer of training. Third, simulators provide a consistent message of what needs to be learned; trainees can work at their own pace; and, compared to face-to-face instruction, simulators can incorporate more situations or problems that a trainee might encounter. Simulators can be used for training interpersonal skills, and how to use equipment. Fourth, simulations can safely put employees in situations that would be dangerous in the real world. Trainees can learn and practice dangerous tasks without putting themselves or others in danger. Fifth, simulations have been found to result in such positive outcomes as shorter training times and increased return on investment.
Simulations do have some disadvantages. The use of simulations has been limited by their development costs. Games and simulations are useful for practicing skills, but trainees must first acquire knowledge and then apply it while playing the game.79 Debriefing learners after a game is useful for helping trainees understand how their simulation experience relates to their work. A customized simulation can cost between $200,000 and $300,000, while a simulation purchased from a supplier without any customization typically costs $100 to $200 per trainee.80 The cost to rent space from a virtual-world program’s campus within a public space is $200–$300 per day; it costs $1,000 to $2,000 for a customized simulation within the space.81 The average cost for a basic fifteen minute game is $20,000 to $30,000 but games can range from $5,000 to $250,000.82 Leased space in a virtual world is expensive. It can range from $5,000 to $100,000 annually, depending on the size and type of the space leased ($10,000–$20,000 is required for a private space on a public server or a private, customized island). However, although they continue to be an expensive training method, development costs for simulations continue to decrease, making them a more popular training method. Also, the use of simulations as a training method is likely to increase as technology development allows more realism to be built into simulations. The novelty of the experience of a simulation may help trainees recall the experience, but they may also interfere with retention and transfer of the training content to the job.83 Learners may not take a simulation seriously. Learning in a simulation may be better for those who already have some job experiences because for learners, simulations may confuse and overwhelm them. Finally, trainees may not be comfortable in learning situations that lack human contact.
TABLE 8.9 Questions to Consider About Serious Games
· What is the business objective?
· What behavior or tasks will be learned?
· How many levels and players should it include?
· Will everyone playing the game have access to the same technology?
· Is the game fun and does it drive engagement in learning?
· Does the game provide feedback and elements such as leaderboards, meters, or badges to motivate friendly competition between employees or teams?
Source: Based on C. Balance, “Strategic ways to develop game-based learning for high ROI,” T+D (September 2013): 76–77; B. Roberts, “Gamification: Win, lose or draw,” HR Magazine (May 2014): 28.35; R. Paharia, Loyalty 3.0 (New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2013).
We all know that games can be fun, but what questions should you consider in purchasing or building a serious game for training? Table 8.9 shows the questions you should consider. It is important to establish the purpose of the game and its relationship to the business. Games can be used for several business-related purposes, including safety training, product training, team building, and new employee orientation. It is also necessary to determine what behaviors or tasks trainees should be able to perform as a result of playing the game. The business purpose and behavior and skills should be included in the game’s learning objectives. Learners should be engaged through meaningful game scenarios, narratives, and problems. Feedback, competition, and incentives can enhance the “fun” aspect of the game. Trainees should be able to easily access and see their score and the scores of all players (leaderboard) and have the opportunity to earn badges. Games should be tested (recall our discussion of formative evaluation in Chapter Six) to ensure that they are easy to use and logical, and that technology problems are minimized.
MOBILE TECHNOLOGY AND LEARNING
Mobile technology allows learning to occur anywhere, at any time. Mobile technology consists of84
- Wireless transmission systems such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth that allow transmission of data without the need for physical connections between devices or between a device and an Internet connection.
- Mobile devices such as smartphones, tablet computers, iPods, iPads, global positioning system (GPS) devices, and radio frequency identification (RFID) chips.
- Software applications related to processing audio files, word processing, spreadsheets, Internet, e-mail, and instant messaging.
GPS and RFID devices are used for tracking customers, employees, and property. For example, many cars and trucks are equipped with GPS devices to allow operators to locate drivers. Trucking companies use GPS devices to track loads and to determine expected arrival times. RFID chips are embedded in products to track their movement and to help in inventory control. Hotels are providing mobile devices to allow customers to access information about guest services, dining, entertainment, and accommodations anywhere on the hotel property. Airlines are providing pilots with iPads they can use while in the cockpit.85 The iPads give the pilots easy access to airport runway approaches, real-time weather updates, and runway diagrams. Before the iPads were available, pilots had to carry heavy flight bags (some weighed thirty-five pounds) with all of the necessary navigation charts and manuals. Besides giving pilots easier access to the information they need, replacing the flight bags with the iPads has resulted in the airlines saving on fuel costs. American estimates that removing the flight bags saved about 400,000 gallons of fuel, which is close to a $1 million savings in fuel costs!
Mobile learning refers to training delivered using a mobile device such as a smartphone, netbook, notebook computer, or iPad. One estimate is that 17 percent of U.S. companies use mobile learning.86 Mobile learning can involve both formal and informal learning. Formal learning might include e-learning courses, podcasts, or videos on the mobile device. Informal learning includes engaging in communication and messaging with other employees or experts via Twitter, blogs, or Facebook. The advantages of mobile learning include that it is an easy way to get up-to-date information to employees; it can be useful for enhancing transfer of training through providing follow-up; it brings training to employees who are constantly traveling, are out of the office visiting customers or clients, or don’t have the time to attend a face-to-face course or program (such as salespeople or executives); and learners can complete training on their own time and pace. Mobile learning allows employees to generate content by creating video, taking photos, or recording an interview and sharing it with others. Also, using mobile devices for learning appeals to millennials. Mobile devices can also provide RSS feeds, shared media (such as YouTube), and podcasts. Podcasts are audio or video program content distributed in episodes using software such as RSS. The best use of podcasts is for narrative-based content that inspires the user’s imagination using music and sound effects.87 Podcasts are great for sharing expertise of SMEs using interviews, stories, and role-plays. It is cheap and easy to produce using a microphone, computer with audio software, portable digital recorder, Skype phone recorder, headphones, or speakers. An advantage of podcasts is that learners can listen at any time or place using many different mobile devices such as iPhones, iPads, or notebook computers. Through mobile technologies, training and learning can occur naturally throughout the workday or at home, employees can be connected to communities of learning, and employees are given the ability to learn at their own pace by reviewing material or skipping over content that they already know.88
For example, Farmers Insurance Group supplies smartphones to its claim representatives.89 They can use the smartphone to access product cards to learn about insurance362policies, review requirements for settling atypical insurance claims, or learn about changes in policies. At Sonic, the fast-food restaurant, recipes and employee activities are constantly changing due to a rotating menu.90 At Sonic, managers can use their smartphone to review food preparations with a team member, view a video, access store reports, contact experts, and post questions and answers to an online learning community.
Many companies are using tablets such as the iPad for training because of their ease of use, colorful, easy-to-read display, ability to connect to the web, and availability of powerful apps. Apps refer to applications designed specifically for smartphones and tablet computers. Apps are primarily being used to supplement training, manage the path or sequence of training, and to help employees maintain training records.91 An app for the U.S. military combat medical teams provides details on specific medical procedures such as controlling bleeding. The American Ophthalmological Society (AOS) is using apps in its continuous medical education courses to supplement training. Courses are provided online, but learning tips and techniques are provided as mobile apps.
Some companies are beginning to use apps as primary training. To ensure that learning and transfer of training occurs using these apps, they are designed to catch the learner’s attention by incorporating attention-getting videos, stories, and interactions. Sales representatives at Coca-Cola Bottling Company Consolidated (CCBCC) are responsible for business development and customer relationships.92 Most of their time is spent traveling to meet customer needs or visiting prospects for new business. To help sales reps better manage their workload and meet their sales quotas, CCBCC developed an online learning program. Sales reps can use an iPad to access an app that links to the program’s content as well as videos on key concepts and action planning templates. The program’s content covers how to get work done, how to work smart, and how to handle information overload. The app also includes editable PDF files that allow sales reps working with their and their managers during on-the-job coaching sessions to create and update action plans. The app is frequently used by sales reps and its use has contributed to a 20 percent increase in daily sales calls. Watson Pharmaceuticals has developed an app for its corporate university, allowing pharmaceutical representatives to access videos and product knowledge from their iPhones. Unisys Corporation offers employees both an e-learning and mobile version of a compliance training program.93 The mobile version includes four 20 minute segments compared to the one-and-one-half-hour e-learning program. The mobile version also has less content on each screen and limited use of video. Unisys is also providing samples of e-learning or face-to-face programs on mobile devices to entice learners to get involved in other training courses. Northrop Grumman, a defense contractor, is developing games for tablets and iPads that train users on information technology security using an interface that looks like a motherboard. Learners move around the game board in their “truck” and are presented with questions about information technology security. Correctly answering all of the questions earns them the opportunity to play an action game in which they shoot down logic bombs, malicious code, and Trojan horses.
For mobile learning to be effective, it needs to be short, easy to use, and meaningful.94 One estimate is that the course length should not exceed ten minutes because users likely do not have long periods of time for learning, and attention spans are limited when looking at the small screens on many mobile devices. The screen layout should work with or without graphics. Images should be used only where relevant to the content because download time may be slow due to bandwidth limitations. Images used should be sized so that the363user can see them without scrolling horizontally or vertically. Technical requirements due to screen size, web browsers, and mobile operating systems need to be considered, as well as the availability and ability to use plug-ins such as Flash, Java, and Portable Document Format (PDF). Also, simply repurposing lectures by digitizing them and distributing them to employees will not facilitate learning. For example, Capital One creates simulated radio shows with phone-in questions and answers given by announcers to create an audio learning environment that is enjoyable and interesting. As with e-learning, training that uses mobile technology may be most effective if it is part of a blended learning approach that involves face-to-face interaction among trainees as well as audio learning.
Adaptive training refers to training that customizes or adapts the content presented to the trainee based on their learning style, ability, personality, or performance.95 These adaptations include the variety, difficulty, and sequencing of content as well as practice problems. In adaptive training, instruction changes based on trainees scores on tests or quizzes completed either before training or at various times as they experience training. This assessment results in adaptations of the content to best help the trainee learn. Although trainers strive to meet the needs of learners, it is very difficult using face-to-face training methods. Online training makes it easier to use ongoing assessments to identify the most effective instructional pathways for learners. The major challenge in developing adaptive training is to ensure that the different content customizations match the learner needs and help them attain the learning objectives. For example, LearnSmart is an interactive and adaptive study tool that is used in some college courses.96 Based on their performance on quizzes throughout the course, students are directed to practice exercises and sections of online textbooks they need to read. LearnSmart is designed to help students better use their study time, as well as improve their retention, recall of the material, and their grades. Another example of adaptive training is an intelligent tutoring system. An intelligent tutoring system (ITS) is an instructional system that uses artificial intelligence.97
ITS has been used by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in astronaut training.98 For example, the Remote Maneuvering System ITS was used to teach astronauts how to use the robotic arm on the space shuttle. Astronauts had to learn to complete tasks and procedures related to grappling a payload. The ITS generated processes that were matched to individual astronauts. Feedback was matched to each astronaut’s pattern of success and failure in learning the tasks. The system recorded performance data for each astronaut, made decisions regarding the student’s level of understanding, and used those decisions to provide appropriate feedback.
Distance learning is used by geographically dispersed companies to provide information about new products, policies, or procedures, as well as deliver skills training and expert lectures to field locations.99Distance learning can include virtual classrooms, which have the following capabilities: projection of still, animated, and video images;364instructor-participant audio discussion; sharing of computer software applications; interactions using instant polling technology; and whiteboard marking tools.100 Distance learning features two-way communications between people, and it currently involves two types of technology.101 The first technology is teleconferencing. Teleconferencing refers to synchronous exchange of audio, video, and/or text between two or more individuals or groups at two or more locations. Trainees attend training programs in training facilities in which they can communicate with trainers (who are at another location) and other trainees using the telephone or personal computer. The second type of distance learning also includes individualized, personal computer–based training.102 Employees participate in training anywhere they have access to a personal computer. This type of distance learning may involve multimedia training methods, such as web-based training. Course material and assignments can be distributed using the company’s intranet, video, or DVDs. Trainers and trainees interact using e-mail, bulletin boards, and conferencing systems.
Teleconferencing usually includes a telephone link so that trainees viewing the presentation can call in questions and comments to the trainer. Also, satellite networks allow companies to link up with industry-specific and educational courses for which employees receive college credit and job certification. IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and Milliken. Corporation are among the many firms that subscribe to the National Technological University (now part of Walden University), which broadcasts courses throughout the United States that technical employees need to obtain advanced degrees in engineering.103
A virtual classroom refers to using a computer and the Internet to distribute instructor-led training to geographically dispersed employees. The potential advantages of the virtual classroom include its cost savings and convenience: geographically dispersed employees can be brought together for training for several hours each week, and content experts can be brought into the classroom as needed. However, the training delivered using a virtual classroom is not the same as the training delivered face to face by an instructor. There are a number of guidelines for developing effective training in the virtual classroom:104
- Design short modules and follow up with an assignment that applies the learning to the job.
- Make learning interactive and interesting, such as modeling the program after a phone-in radio show.
- Include media such as video and audio.
- Limit classroom size to no more than twenty-five learners.
- Offer learners multiple ways of interacting with each other and the instructor, including webinars, e-mail, discussion rooms, message boards, and blogs.
- Test the technology before the first class to ensure it’s ready.
Interactive distance learning (IDL) refers to the latest generation of distance learning, which uses satellite technology to broadcast programs to different locations and allows trainees to respond to questions posed during the training program using a keypad.105 IDL is being used by companies that have employees in many different locations and who lack computers or online access. IDL allows employees in different locations to see behaviors and how to get things done rather than just read or hear about them. For example, JCPenney Company, which produces more than 200 different IDL programs each year, uses distance learning to reach every associate. Each store has a training room365where up to twelve employees can sign in to the program and watch on a large television screen. Each employee has his or her own keypad to interact with the program. Employees are able to watch the satellite broadcast live or view a tape of the program later. Regardless of whether watching the program live or via tape, employees can answer questions such as, “How many square feet does your store have for lingerie?” At the end of the program, managers and trainers can access a report on how every store answered. Evaluations of the interactive distance learning program have been positive. IDL has allowed JCPenney to deliver training to every employee in the company, and 86 percent of its employees report that they have the training needed to perform their jobs effectively.
An advantage of distance learning is that the company can save on travel costs. It also allows employees in geographically dispersed sites to receive training from experts who would not otherwise be available to visit each location. Intuit finds that a traditional classroom environment is good for introducing software and providing trainees with the opportunity to network. Virtual classroom training is used for courses on special software features, for demonstrations, and for troubleshooting using application-sharing features. General Mills uses virtual classrooms at smaller plants where offering a class on site is not cost effective.106 Employees have access to courses in product-specific knowledge (e.g., cereal production), general technical skills (e.g., food chemistry), and functional-specific knowledge (e.g., maintenance). FileNeT Corporation was concerned with how its sales force was going to keep up with new software and software updates.107 FileNeT tried self-paced online learning but discovered that salespeople did not like to read a lot of material about new products on the web. Enrollment in online courses dwindled, and salespeople flooded the company’s training department with requests for one-on-one assistance. To solve the training problem, the company decided to use webcasting. Webcasting, or web conferencing, involves instruction that is provided online through live broadcasts. Webcasting helped spread the sales force training throughout the year rather than cramming it into twice-a-year sales meetings. Webcasting also helped ensure that the salespeople all received the same information. The salespeople liked the webcasts because of the timely information that helped them have conversations with customers. The live sessions were also popular because participants could ask questions. Webcasting has not replaced face-to-face training at FileNeT; classroom training is still about 80 percent of training, but that percentage has decreased from 90 percent. Webcasting has also resulted in savings of $500,000 annually (because one of the twice-yearly sales meetings was canceled).
The major disadvantages of distance learning are the lack of interaction between the trainer and the audience, technology failures, and unprepared trainers. A high degree of interaction among trainees or between the trainees and the trainer is a positive learning feature that is missing from distance learning programs that use the technology only to broadcast a lecture to geographically dispersed employees. All this does is repurpose a traditional lecture (with its limitations for learning and transfer of training) for a new training technology. To engage trainees in a distance learning environment, it is useful to limit online sessions to sixty to ninety minutes in length, maintain a good instructional pace, avoid presenting unnecessary text, use relevant and engaging visuals (e.g., graphs and animation), and allow trainees to participate using polling devices and small-group breakout rooms for discussion and projects.108 A group spokesperson can be assigned to summarize and communicate the group’s ideas. Weather conditions and satellite glitches can occur at any time, disconnecting the instructor from the audience or making it difficult to show366video or other multimedia presentations. Instructors need backup plans for dealing with technical issues. Because many instructors have difficulty speaking to trainees in another location without a live group of trainees in front of them, it is important to prepare instructors for distance delivery. For example, a producer who is familiar with the technology can work with the instructor and help facilitate the training session.
TECHNOLOGIES FOR TRAINING SUPPORT
Technologies such as expert systems, groupware, and electronic support systems are being used to support training efforts. Training support means that these technologies are helping to capture training content so that it is available to employees who may not have attended training. Training support also means that these technologies provide information and decision rules to employees on an as-needed basis (i.e., they are job aids). Employees can access these technologies in the work environment.
Table 8.10 shows when training support technologies are most needed. Many conditions shown in the table relate to characteristics of the task or the environment that can inhibit transfer of training. For example, employees may work some distance away from their manager, the manager may be difficult to contact, or employees may need special expertise that the manager lacks. These situations make it difficult for employees to find answers to problems that arise on the job. Training support technologies can assist in transfer of training by helping employees generalize training content to the work environment and by providing employees with new information (not covered in training).
Expert systems refer to technology that organizes and applies the knowledge of human experts to specific problems.109 Expert systems have three elements:
- A knowledge base that contains facts, figures, and rules about a specific subject
- A decision-making capability that, imitating an expert’s reasoning ability, draws conclusions from those facts and figures to solve problems and answer questions
- A user interface that gathers and gives information to the person using the system
Expert systems are used as a support tool that employees refer to when they have problems or decisions that they feel exceed their current knowledge and skills. They can also be used to help employees make sense of different conditions and problems and keep track of tasks that need to be completed. For example, at Johns Hopkins Medical Center’s data from patient records and monitoring equipment is integrated and available to intensive367care unit staff on a tablet computer.110 The system shows staff what tasks need to be done and when to perform preventative measures for surgical complications and alerts the staff to situations when patients may be at risk such as when drugs may interact to cause medical problems. Color coding alerts the user to whether an urgent action needs to take place (red), a task needs to be performed soon (yellow), or a necessary task has been completed (green).
TABLE 8.10 Conditions When Training Support Technologies Are Most Needed
· Performance of task is infrequent.
· The task is lengthy, difficult, and information intensive.
· The consequences of error are damaging.
· Performance relies on knowledge, procedures, or approaches that frequently change.
· There is high employee turnover.
· Little time is available for training, or there are few resources for training.
· Employees are expected to take full responsibility for learning and performing tasks.
Source: Based on A. Rossett, “Job Aids and Electronic Performance Support Systems.” In The ASTD Training and Development Handbook, 4th ed., ed. R. L. Craig (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1996): 554–577.
Although expert systems are discussed as a technology that supports training, expert systems can also be used as a delivery mechanism. Expert systems can be used to train employees in the decision rules of the experts. For example, a financial company dramatically increased the portfolio of products that it offered to customers.111 The sales force needed to be prepared to introduce these products to clients and to make sales. The company developed an expert system to capture the sales processes used by top sales performers. This web-based expert system allowed salespersons to access information on each financial product, alerted salespersons to information they needed from the customer, and used expert logic to identify opportunities to introduce new products to customers based on data entered by the salesperson (the expert system matches general client characteristics with specific customer characteristics).
Expert systems can deliver both high quality and lower costs. By using the decision processes of experts, the system enables many people to arrive at decisions that reflect experts’ knowledge. An expert system helps avoid the errors that can result from fatigue decision biases, and the inability to make sense of large amounts of information. The efficiencies of an expert system can be realized if it can be operated by fewer or less skilled (and likely less costly) employees than the company would otherwise require.
Electronic Performance Support Systems (EPSSs)
An electronic performance support system (EPSS) is an electronic infrastructure that captures, stores, and distributes individual and corporate knowledge assets throughout an organization to enable individuals to achieve required levels of performance in the fastest possible time and with a minimum of support from other people.112 An EPSS includes all the software needed to support the work of individuals (not just one or two specific software applications).
EPSS can be used to help transfer of training and provide just-in-time performance support that substitutes for training. Microsoft’s Office software has “wizards,” a help function that recognizes the task that the user is starting to perform (e.g., writing a letter) and offers information related to that task. Also, retailers such as Sephora are supplying employee with iPads that they can use as a product-reference guide (a performance support tool). Both Coca-Cola Sabco and SNI use performance support as a means to help transfer of training.113 Coca-Cola Sabco, a South African bottling company, provides on-demand learning materials using YouTube videos accessible on phones and tablet computers that focus on tasks such as the way to correctly stack products inside coolers. SNI, a company that supplies negotiations skills training, provides its clients with a checklist of seven negotiating tactics they can pull up on their smartphones. Although these tactics are covered in training, the checklist is available to aid clients’ recall and transfer of skills to real negotiation situations. Rather than train employees on infrequently performed tasks, ADP provides employees with “Learning Bytes” two-minute learning solutions demonstrating how to perform these tasks. The Learning Bytes have helped reduce calls into ADP’s service center.
To use EPSS as a substitute for training, trainers must determine whether problems and tasks require employees to actually acquire knowledge, skill, or ability (learned capability) and whether periodic assistance through an EPSS is sufficient.
QUALITY OF RESPONSE NO RESPONSE POOR / UNSATISFACTORY SATISFACTORY GOOD EXCELLENT Content (worth a maximum of 50% of the total points) Zero points: Student failed to submit the final paper. 20 points out of 50: The essay illustrates poor understanding of the relevant material by failing to address or incorrectly addressing the relevant content; failing to identify or inaccurately explaining/defining key concepts/ideas; ignoring or incorrectly explaining key points/claims and the reasoning behind them; and/or incorrectly or inappropriately using terminology; and elements of the response are lacking. 30 points out of 50: The essay illustrates a rudimentary understanding of the relevant material by mentioning but not full explaining the relevant content; identifying some of the key concepts/ideas though failing to fully or accurately explain many of them; using terminology, though sometimes inaccurately or inappropriately; and/or incorporating some key claims/points but failing to explain the reasoning behind them or doing so inaccurately. Elements of the required response may also be lacking. 40 points out of 50: The essay illustrates solid understanding of the relevant material by correctly addressing most of the relevant content; identifying and explaining most of the key concepts/ideas; using correct terminology; explaining the reasoning behind most of the key points/claims; and/or where necessary or useful, substantiating some points with accurate examples. The answer is complete. 50 points: The essay illustrates exemplary understanding of the relevant material by thoroughly and correctly addressing the relevant content; identifying and explaining all of the key concepts/ideas; using correct terminology explaining the reasoning behind key points/claims and substantiating, as necessary/useful, points with several accurate and illuminating examples. No aspects of the required answer are missing. Use of Sources (worth a maximum of 20% of the total points). Zero points: Student failed to include citations and/or references. Or the student failed to submit a final paper. 5 out 20 points: Sources are seldom cited to support statements and/or format of citations are not recognizable as APA 6th Edition format. There are major errors in the formation of the references and citations. And/or there is a major reliance on highly questionable. The Student fails to provide an adequate synthesis of research collected for the paper. 10 out 20 points: References to scholarly sources are occasionally given; many statements seem unsubstantiated. Frequent errors in APA 6th Edition format, leaving the reader confused about the source of the information. There are significant errors of the formation in the references and citations. And/or there is a significant use of highly questionable sources. 15 out 20 points: Credible Scholarly sources are used effectively support claims and are, for the most part, clear and fairly represented. APA 6th Edition is used with only a few minor errors. There are minor errors in reference and/or citations. And/or there is some use of questionable sources. 20 points: Credible scholarly sources are used to give compelling evidence to support claims and are clearly and fairly represented. APA 6th Edition format is used accurately and consistently. The student uses above the maximum required references in the development of the assignment. Grammar (worth maximum of 20% of total points) Zero points: Student failed to submit the final paper. 5 points out of 20: The paper does not communicate ideas/points clearly due to inappropriate use of terminology and vague language; thoughts and sentences are disjointed or incomprehensible; organization lacking; and/or numerous grammatical, spelling/punctuation errors 10 points out 20: The paper is often unclear and difficult to follow due to some inappropriate terminology and/or vague language; ideas may be fragmented, wandering and/or repetitive; poor organization; and/or some grammatical, spelling, punctuation errors 15 points out of 20: The paper is mostly clear as a result of appropriate use of terminology and minimal vagueness; no tangents and no repetition; fairly good organization; almost perfect grammar, spelling, punctuation, and word usage. 20 points: The paper is clear, concise, and a pleasure to read as a result of appropriate and precise use of terminology; total coherence of thoughts and presentation and logical organization; and the essay is error free. Structure of the Paper (worth 10% of total points) Zero points: Student failed to submit the final paper. 3 points out of 10: Student needs to develop better formatting skills. The paper omits significant structural elements required for and APA 6th edition paper. Formatting of the paper has major flaws. The paper does not conform to APA 6th edition requirements whatsoever. 5 points out of 10: Appearance of final paper demonstrates the student’s limited ability to format the paper. There are significant errors in formatting and/or the total omission of major components of an APA 6th edition paper. They can include the omission of the cover page, abstract, and page numbers. Additionally the page has major formatting issues with spacing or paragraph formation. Font size might not conform to size requirements. The student also significantly writes too large or too short of and paper 7 points out of 10: Research paper presents an above-average use of formatting skills. The paper has slight errors within the paper. This can include small errors or omissions with the cover page, abstract, page number, and headers. There could be also slight formatting issues with the document spacing or the font Additionally the paper might slightly exceed or undershoot the specific number of required written pages for the assignment. 10 points: Student provides a high-caliber, formatted paper. This includes an APA 6th edition cover page, abstract, page number, headers and is double spaced in 12’ Times Roman Font. Additionally, the paper conforms to the specific number of required written pages and neither goes over or under the specified length of the paper.
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