Taking stock and moving online
for training in 1999
1. Classroom training remains strong but changes
The development of online technology may seem at first to threaten the existence of
classroom training, but in fact it seems to clarify its unique benefits. People need
people, particularly when there are problems to be solved, options to be debated and
attitudes to be influenced.
What we don't need are inflexible, lengthy, didactic,
tutor-centred events with the primary aim of imparting knowledge from a to z. What we
desparately need more of are short, flexible, learner-centred events that provide an
opportunity for discussion, problem-solving and practice in a relaxed and safe
2. The move online
If we don't acquire knowledge and basic skills in classrooms, then we're more likely to be
looking online for the solution than to familiar off-line media like workbooks, video and
CD-ROM. The online bandwaggon is unstoppable, even though existing methods still have
formidable advantages in terms of portability and multimedia capability. The online
arguments - easier accessibility, maintainability, greater modularity and lower costs -
are capturing both the imagination and the budgets.
3. Performance support moves to centre stage
There are already serious doubts about the suitability of
the desktop as a place of learning. The interruptions, the lack of privacy and the
immediacy of more urgent priorities all contribute to an atmosphere that is less than
ideal for learning. On the other hand, the sheer colume of information required to carry
out tasks effectively is growing rapidly. This information can not all be learned.
The answer is not training at the dektop but performance support - online, when
it's needed. This can take many forms - information databases, wizards, templates, expert
systems, even customised screen savers - just enough information, just-in-time. Online
learning will have it's place, at quiet times or in quiet places.
4. Multimedia takes a backseat until bandwidth
Remember multimedia, the buzzword of the mid 90s, the
next big step in computer technology. Well multimedia happened, but primarily in the home.
Corporate applications have been limited to CD-ROM-based training - away from the desktop
- and the occasional venture at point-of-sale.
Multimedia at work is dormant until bandwidth increases. When
video and audio can be handled comfortably by corporate networks, intranets, online
learning and performance support will all take a leap forward, adding the vital human
touch to our network communications.
Happy New Year!