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Why training needs the intranet
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pixel.gif (807 bytes) Using the intranet to deliver training
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THE PRIMARY ACTIVITY of many training departments is, not surprisingly, the delivery of training. Any method which is capable of producing better results for the same price or the same results at a cost saving is likely, therefore, to be of interest. Not surprising, then, that in a recent survey by the MASIE Centre, 82% of large corporations stated that they were in the process of developing an on-line learning strategy or pilot – with an initial focus on IT training.

With only text, graphics and simple animation at its disposal, but with a full range of interactive capabilities, an intranet is capable of delivering a reasonable standard of CBT (computer-based training) and therefore inherits the benefits of that medium:

  • self-pacing
  • flexible timing
  • reduced time to train
  • no travel time or costs
  • greater retention

On top of these, there are some extra benefits to be obtained by delivering CBT over an intranet:

  • with the intranet available on the desktop, the training can be delivered just-in-time
  • the training materials can be easily updated centrally
  • the training can be fitted around normal work tasks

However, some will argue that the desktop is not well suited to learning. After all, it is hard to prevent interruptions and there is not always a great deal of privacy. Some trainees may also feel that because they are not engaged in ‘real work’, they will be seen to be playing. These issues are real and not necessarily easy to resolve, however, the degree of resistance to the idea drops dramatically if the training is presented as really short, just-in-time modules. Whereas many employees would find it difficult going through a lengthy multimedia CD-ROM programme at their desk, most people can fit in a fifteen minute module that delivers the key points, in a practical and no-nonsense manner, where it is clearly of benefit and relevance to their immediate work problems. Chairing a meeting this afternoon? Never had this responsibility? Check out the ‘chairing meetings’ module and find out how it’s done.

Of the three main learning domains – cognitive, psychomotor and affective – probably only the former is likely to be well supported by an intranet. However, in our modern knowledge-intensive organisations, cognitive learning – the learning of facts, concepts, principles and procedures – is a major objective for any training department. Intranet training modules can provide cognitive learning in a number of situations:

  • as pre-work before a classroom course (thus allowing the course to concentrate on skill development and attitudes)
  • as a refresher to a classroom course (or when there has been a change in procedures)
  • to provide new learning on a just-in-time basis
  • as part of a comprehensive distance learning course

Intranet training modules can be developed or acquired piecemeal and use a wide variety of interfaces and techniques. It is also possible to integrate a large number of modules within a complete training delivery system, that manages curricula and maintains trainee records. Examples of systems like this are British Telecom’s CampusProfessional (www.bt.com) and Epic Group’s 20/20 Training (www.epic.co.uk). The latter also uses intelligent screen savers to reinforce key learning points. DDI’s OPAL system (www.ddiworld.com) presents everything from quick tips to detailed explanations for all sorts of interpersonal skills situations, backed up by assessment and competency management tools.

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                                                     Fastrak Consulting Ltd, 1998. All rights reserved.                                 Last revised 2/11/98.