Re: e-training

Subject: Re: e-training
From: Sandra Law <sandra -at- qmaster -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Tue, 22 Feb 2000 16:12:53 -0700

Ellen Kelly wrote:

> Bill:
>
> I read your post on e-training with interest. There is also another
> "e-trend" that encompasses both aspects you talk about. The product I
> document is a web-based training classroom tool - students and the
> instructor participate in a live class over the Internet ... this is
called
> "synchronous" learning. It's a cool new trend that companies are using
to
> train employees in remote offices.
> Instructors can use multimedia content, text chat, audio, and video in
these
> courses, and the students can actively participate. I think this type
of
> training is something that we will be seeing much more of in the
future.

My experience of this kind of training/instruction is as a student and
as a
future practitioner. As a student, I have not been able to benefit from
the
really high tech presentation formats of which Ellen spoke, i.e.
synchronous or
live training. I have taken courses completely online, however most, if
not all
of the interaction, was asynchronous (reviewing course materials,
participating
in a web conference, and sending email). Currently I am taking a course
through
audio-conference (not by choice, by necessity) and it too is
asynchronous, i.e.
one person is able to speak at a time, and there has to be a lull in the

conversation before another party is able to break into the
conversation.

The experience can be quite alienating, although good 'discussions' did
take
place in the web conference. It is fairly difficult to work in groups,
although
one of my courses required a lot of group work. The only virtual forms
of
communication groups had was email or chat rooms. We never resorted to
the chat
room. Most of the students in the courses that I was taking worked full
time,
and thus it was necessary to make sure things got done on time -- so the

compiler of the material could review and assemble it before the due
date. That
was sometimes very difficult.

I should say that these courses are all academic (to fulfill graduate
degree
requirements) and my experience should not be taken to represent the
experience
of someone taking workplace training courses. There seem to be very
limited
resources for the really cutting edge stuff. Although there is a on
campus
center devoted to the promotion and use of learning technologies:

Academic Technologies for Learning (ATL)
http://www.atl.ualberta.ca/disted/

Another good resource is the following online journal, (has something)
for
academic and non-academic audiences)

Active Learning - educational innovation and learning technologies.
http://www.cti.ac.uk/publ/actlea/

There are also virtual middle and high schools in my area, that offer
75% of
their courses online. An example is Rocky View Virtual School Program
(http://www.rvvs.com/). There was even a discussion in the audio
conference
course (a Project Management course in Instructional Technology) of
online
schools that offered Physical Education online. Students were expected
to keep
a record of all activities, with their parent's assistance. The
instructor of
the course felt that the web was not an appropriate medium for the
delivery of
such a course, but some of the students suggested that 'in the future' a
video
conferencing system could be set so that the teacher could monitor the
students
in the class. That's when the discussion got very strange to my mind.
Not only
did it not seem feasible logistically (each student would have their own
setup,
and the instructor would have to watch how many screens OR the teacher
would be
at a remote location and the students would gather in a central
location). Too
much like surveillance to me. Shades of 1984. Also, I made the point
that
high school, for a lot of people, is about the opportunity to meet other
people
and to participate in non-academic activities (clubs, sports, social
events). I
was very focused in high school on academics but that's not everyone's
focus
(for good or ill) and why should it be. It's almost as if the only
legitimate
way to express yourself in this culture is through a form of
self-imposed social
isolation (I'm too busy to talk, interact, take account of someone
else's
existence). And I have no problem working on my own (entirely) -- but
really I
think some of these training strategies may just further isolate people
from one
another.

Where this sort of education seems to be of benefit for remote
communities that
have limited access to conventional libraries. One of the women in one
of the
courses that I am taking works in distance education and she pointed out
that
there was simply no comparison between conventionally delivered distance

education and computer assisted delivery. Specifically, she said that
print
materials took 6 weeks to reach students, while online delivery was
virtually
instantaneous.

Anyway, that's all I have to say.

Sandra Law








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