People working on VR with helmets, and force-feedbacks
What are the trends in corporate learning?
Think back to the corporate environment of twenty years ago:
a person joined a company, climbed the corporate ladder, stayed
for life, and, at retirement, received a gold watch and pension.
One career per lifetime has changed to an average of five careers
per person, and lifelong training is required just to stay current.
The other primary trend is using multiple
media - a fusion of digital media is most likely because it leverages
the strengths of each media to reach all learners. This creates
the newest training/learning model.
To understand how frequently skills updates
are needed to cope with the business environment, look at this
example: a programmer/analyst working in the 1970s had skills
that remained current for 5-8 years. Today the average life cycle
for technical certification lasts only five months !
This creates the problem facing corporate
America - how to keep employees current in certifications, capabilities,
regulations, and business environment changes. This requires
an incredible amount of training time away from the office which
results in lost opportunity costs. Executives today agree that
there is never a good or convenient time to take people away
from their jobs for training. It can be costly and slows productivity,
yet training is critical in keeping a company's workforce up-to-date
and up-to-speed with the latest information they need to remain
Economic forces have combined with technology
to create a corporate environment that seeks alternatives to
traditional classroom training. Business magazines report that
corporate trainers are especially interested to go high tech.
They are using technology such as the internet and CD-ROMS to
teach managers everything from how to use software to the principles
of finance and staff diversity. International Data Corp. reckons
that technology-delivered training will grow from 1.9 billion
in 1998 to $2,7 billion this year and hit $7.8 billion in 2002.
There are estimates that Corporate Universities
will provide 50 percent of their training by technology in the
first year of the millennium. Motorola University, Disney University,
McDonald's Hamburger University, and Sears University will be
Just-in-time (JIT) training, information
delivered to an individual at the right time, exactly when it
is needed, is a sharp departure from attending a week-long "core
dump" of information, much of which is usually forgotten
because it is not applied immediately.
Microsoft uses JIT training to deliver
new product information, and product updates, in a timely fashion.
With the introduction of their Drivetime Audio, field technicians
can access online audio, visual, and text bite-sized bits of
information, from Microsoft when they need it. (http://www.microsoft.com/Seminar/1033/default.htm)
To assist with some of the toughest personnel
issues facing company managers, The Network Connection (TNCi),
has developed an innovative JIT Information program called "The
Consultant". Imagine a manager has an employee with a bad
attitude, but (s)he does not have hours to determine how to handle
the employee. With a mouse click, the manager accesses "The
Consultant" and finds a short video dramatization to guide
him through the situation. Customers pay only for the segment
they watch of this desktop management training.
American Honda is using a variation of
this real-time and courseware-on- demand desktop delivery which
is specifically tailored to their needs by using scenarios their
employees have encountered with customers and employees.
Flavors of Teleconferencing:
Kaiser Permanente ranks as one of corporate
America's distance learning pioneers. This national videoconferencing
network, connects 150 locations nationwide. The core curriculum
includes programs that lets staffers earn a baccalaureate and
masters degree of nursing at a distance, as well as continuing
education courses for physicians. Kaiser Permanente has provided
more than 62,000 hours of training and is piloting an overseas
Bob Bodine, Kaiser Permanente's director
of AV communications resources, says they save at "least
1.5 million per year over (using) traditional techniques, primarily
by eliminating travel costs - and that's just for physicians'
drivetime in the northern California area alone".
Another flavor of teleconferencing is to
have renown experts present to remote users. In a monthly program
from LiveWare5, management instruction is offered to subscribers,
via teleconferencing, from experts who would be cost-prohibitive
for an individual organization to contract. The participants
from corporate sites throughout the country, get to ask specific
questions and get direct answers from the experts.
Even small organizations can use teleconferencing
to train personnel at remote locations, reduce training-related
travel costs, and increase the bottom-line.
A point-to-point teleconferencing system
that runs on regular telephone lines and uses a television as
a screen, can be purchased for less than $500 per site.
Desktop Virtual Reality:
Realtime interactive visual stimulation,
or Virtual Reality (VR), used since the 1960's for pilot training,
is now available on the desktop and is being used in the medical
field, for architectural simulations, and for marketing purposes.
A dental software VR program uses a haptic tool to actually feel
the hardness or softness of a virtual patient's mouth. Using
a laser-like pen, which simulates a tool a dentist would use
in scraping or probing, the user explores a lifelike mouth. Hitting
the hard enamel of the (virtual) tooth's surface, the computer
calculates how much force is being applied to the enamel and
feeds back the feeling of a dental tool coming in contact with
an actual tooth. These force-feedback simulations are used to
train medical students, physicians preparing for delicate surgeries,
as well as more mundane tasks such as drivers-education.
The most successful corporate distance
programs use a variety of technologies, and combine them with
instructor-led assignments prior to, and following, the desktop
or teleconferencing sessions.
Magazine, September 10, 1999, by Joanne Carle-Accornero