Here are five technologies innovative CLOs use to make their training more engaging.
Podcasts provide a way to distribute an audio or video episode via the Internet for playback at any time on any MP3 device or PC. Podcasts allow training in the form of event capture, new product information, sales tips, orientation, etc. to be delivered on a just-in-time, just-enough basis to anyone anywhere.
At Capital One, employees use Podcasts to learn about upcoming classes and to view new content. Capital One sees audio learning as “a way to get associates more involved in learning the business at a self-directed pace,” said Ted Forbes, managing vice president of Capital One University.
A wiki is a collection of Web pages that can be easily viewed and modified by anyone, providing a means for shared learning and collaboration. Wikis can be used to create content on-the-fly, as a repository for information and for archiving group learning. Benefits include speed, simplicity and a sense of ownership among participants.
Nokia uses wikis to distribute, store and control corporate intelligence, said Nokia Academy Project Manager Auriel Manolson. Teams use them to track virtual team members, provide information about roles, discuss project processes, and share knowledge and insights. Benefits include ease of collaboration, editing and access.
A blog is a Web journal containing dated entries on a given topic or theme. They can include search, feedback from readers and links to other sites. They can be written by one person or a group. Blogs can be used to share a viewpoint, enable collaborative discussion, present new product ideas, or explain ongoing news or changes.
At Technorati Inc., group blogs are used to track and discuss everything from bottlenecks in development to new product offerings. “What we find,” said Vice President of Engineering Adam Hertz, “is that as information accumulates in a blog over time, people begin to more frequently use it as an informational resource and learning tool.”
4. Remote Sensing
This is the practice of using instruments or cameras to observe or collect data about an object in a distant location. Remote sensing can make a subject come alive by giving learners access to a place they otherwise would not have. This can enhance motivation and provide a sense of working on real problems.
Coral Graphics Services Inc. uses SoftSolutions’ Real-Time Performance Management to capture live data from the shop-floor and share it with operators. The goal is to have those who run the equipment see how their performance can improve or hurt the overall department statistics. Coral Graphics COO Donal Robb said the key to enhanced performance is to teach workers how to understand the sophisticated statistical measurements, set performance goals and offer rewards to those who excel.
5. Virtual Environments
Virtual environments provide a realistic simulation. This differs from typical simulations, which use only a PC screen. Virtual training environments include a mock airplane cockpit, mock police car, or 3-D glasses and gloves for repairing a toxic material storage tank.
Washington State University’s First Responders’ Simulation and Training Center uses EON Reality Inc. technology to teach students how to handle and dispose of dangerous devices and materials. The courses can be taken onsite by donning special glasses or remotely with a PC and head-mounted display.
Action items: 1. Ask other CLOs what new technologies they are using. 2. Dedicate 20 minutes at certain staff meetings for a demo of some new technology, then speculate on how it could be applied to your team’s efforts. 3. Send an e-mail to your team to find out who is fascinated with some new technology. Ask them to suggest ways to apply it to your learning efforts.
Brandon Hall, Ph.D., has been a leading commentator on e-learning since 1993 and is CEO and lead researcher at Brandon Hall Research Inc., an independent research firm in Sunnyvale, Calif. Brandon can be reached at email@example.com.