Noe (2010) advises that in order for training to support companies in achieving their business goals and gain/maintain competitive advantage, it must address the principles that effect learning. The technology available to today's learning environment can greatly aid effective learning and transfer that benefits companies and affect their bottom line. Some of these technologies are listed below.
Learning Portals (LPs) are sites that provide access to training resources such as courses, online communities, training vendors and resources (Noe, 2010). A customized LP is organized around a set of core competencies that employees are expected to achieve and has the capability of offering administrative support to training via features such as tracking employee enrollment or progress through programs and online tutoring mentors. An example of an LP can be found at http://www.portaltolearning.co.za/
In my estimation, organizations will increasingly turn to LPs to compliment their training function and as a source option for training programs as well. As a tracking function, an LP will significantly reduce administration time and cost that personnel spend using internal tracking systems. As a source for training, they would present a ready pool of training courses – cutting back on research time, as well as offer the flexibility of ready-accessibility.
This involves software that allows users to access webinars or hold meetings online, with synchronous (real-time) access to discussions, teleconferencing, presentations and demonstrations, interactive whiteboards (TopTenREVIEWS, 2012) and the list goes on. With webcasting technology, trainers can deliver information from anywhere in the world to a dispersed group.
Because of its limitations for engaging trainees over a long period of time (Noe, 2010), webcasted programs need to be very precise in length and content and instructors should be prepped in distance delivery (Noe, 2010). Trainee engagement can actually be aided with an on-the-ground facilitator. My prediction of Webcasting software is that while it has a useful place in the training room, the technology, though utilized in the future, would to be limited to clippings and snapshots from experts that would compliment a face-to-face program.
Learning Management System
A learning Management System (LMS) is a platform that acts as your virtual classroom, allowing for the automation of training administration and content development and delivery (Noe, 2010). It allows users to navigate through course content on their own, selecting when and what area of course they wish to access at any given time. From your LMS, trainees may access discussions, and course readings, Instructor's tips, course grades, and may post links and upload files to share with colleagues.
LMSs place a certain measure of autonomy in the trainee's hand, making it a useful tool especially for adult learners. As with Learning Portals, I predict that LMSs will be greatly utilized in the future and will play a significant role in the management of the training function and with encouraging trainees to take responsibility for their learning progress.
Virtual Reality & Virtual Worlds
Virtual Reality (VR) uses "computer technology to create a simulated, three-dimensional world that a user can manipulate and explore while feeling as if he were in that world" (Strickland, 2007). Applied to training, technological devices are utilized to stimulate the trainee's senses and to detect the trainee's movements and create a visual perception of being in a targeted environment (Noe, 2010). A Virtual World (VW) presents a particular setting or 'community' in which the VR occurs. While there a several disadvantages to applying VRs and VWs to training, including cost for development and of equipment and difficult interfaces, as the technology improves and becomes more affordable, I think that the advantage of presenting real-life experiences to trainees who would not otherwise encounter such would far outweigh the disadvantages. I envision that VRs and VWs will become a very viable training tool and option.
This technology allows asynchronous collaboration among class participants in the form of discussion threads where participants can post comments and respond to the comments of others, over time (Virginia Tech, 2011). The interaction on a discussion board (DB) can occur outside of the training room and thus offers an attractive advantage of continuing learning beyond the training hours and the immediate training material. Trainers can utilize the DB to enhance learner engagement and participation, assimilation of content and ideas and even assessment of learning.
Currently, this tool is popular in the distance learning realm. I envision that it can also greatly compliment training programs and enrich learning in the training setting.
Noe, R. A. (2010). Employee training and development (5th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.
Strickland, J. (2007). How virtual reality works. HowStuffWorks.com. Retrieved from http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/gadgets/other-gadgets/virtual-reality.htm
TopTenREVIEWS (2012). 2012 Compare Best Web Conference Services. Retrieved from http://web-conferencing-services.toptenreviews.com/
VirginiaTech (2011). You've got a discussion board...so what are you going to do with it? DesignShop: Lessons in Effective Teaching. Retrieved from http://www.edtech.vt.edu/edtech/id/ocs/discuss.html