Web Training and Industry
Vol 21 No 2
The addition of the internet to the education and training arena has brought as many challenges as it has benefits. As they say, there is "no free lunch", so this also was not without many pitfalls, many of which occurred merely because it was a format of education that had not been tried before. Oh there had always been "correspondence courses" in multiple disciplines, some of which I suppose were adequate to meet some needs. With the invention of the internet (originally designed so professors in higher education could communicate readily), a totally different and "out of the box" method of instruction started taking hold. It came to be known as "distance education" or "DE." Originally thought to be an educational outreach to rural areas far removed from traditional campuses, the reality in the provision of this method, many "DE" students live very close to the institution providing the education and either cannot meet schedule demands or have other conflicts (single parenting, small children, transportation issues, and often just time) that prohibit their traditional attendance.
Use of the internet has also not escaped the eyes of the international corporate world. In fact, many now routinely use the "net" or the "Web" to promulgate information both to the general public and internally within vast corporate boundaries across the entire globe. This has also opened the door for the ability to do training and education for multiple employees who may be across the street, across town, across the continent, or across the globe for all that it matters; the distance boundaries have melted away with this new technology.
The technology and the training have some limits. Now some of these limits are going to have difficulty in the effort to overcome the "physical" aspects of some education, but given the current rate of technological explosion, nothing would surprise me. Until then, let's make the case for this form of WEB education to be limited to the didactic portion of the classroom presentation that is within the cognitive learning domain. Here we can effectively present the material that would otherwise be present in lecture, small group, discussion, etc., and move that entire presentation into the computer DE format. The problem comes when I need to cross learning domains and jump into the "hands-on" portion to teach skills. Now I am in the psychomotor learning domain and I come up deficient in my abilities to effectively teach in this domain across the Web. All the compressed video, all the visual and auditory stimulation I can muster, will not suffice when it comes to having the student physically perform, practice, and become proficient in, these required skills. These are skills that may often be part of a training that may involve saving lives, or may at a crisis time hold many lives in balance. You can't train a soldier to shoot a weapon, a firefighter to operate a turret foam cannon, or a paramedic to start an IV, unless you physically put the objects in their hands and teach them to use them. Then they have to practice until it's perfect! Nothing else but complete proficiency will be accepted and the only way to fully meet the demands of this learning domain is to be standing next to the student (figuratively) and having them physically perform the skills, over and over again. Now correct me if I'm wrong and this may be some real "in the box" thinking, but I have yet to solve this issue when it comes to teaching some skills and this has been a major hold up in the ability to reach out in many areas, academic or otherwise. (Author's note to readers: even as I write this, we at CCSN are now accepting a fully-web based, Heart Association approved, CPR class. This class is completely internet based and the student never puts his/her hands on anything other than the computer mouse.)
The Web teaching format has multiple opportunities available and several "platforms" for the material. WebCT?, Blackboard?, Whiteboard?, and Compass? are a few that come to mind and some of the courses come prepackaged from the distributor in one or more of these "platforms." Some also may allow (or require) you to place the course and all the materials on their Internet Server eliminating some capitol costs should you not have vast system computing services. A caution is offered to educators though, if you place a course on a 'remote' server (not physically controlled by your company), make sure you have full backup of your "intellectual property." This is in the event you wish to make a major change such as a textbook or publishing change and no longer wish to utilize this particular "service." You do not want to lose many man hours that you put into course development. Often it's better to make sure the platform or course can be placed on your server for protection. I have actually refused to do business with a publisher unless this can be accomplished.
Now, this may seem like a ton of work to pile on your already overloaded desk when it comes to creating, developing, presenting, and tweaking a course to make it an educational product worthy of giving to your employees or students. Thankfully, here is where some outsourcing may pay off as much of the work has already been done, can be acquired at a reasonable price (often the costs of regular tuition), and is as close as your own computer terminal. Some of it is even free, that's right, NO cost and is presented in the interest of out-reach and community involvement.
There are several examples that come to mind. A corporate example that is readily available on the Web is the training site at Chevron (www.chevrontraining.com) that shows an excellent example of how a company can post training information about courses that will be taking place and has links to descriptions if you follow the path down to course offerings. It also has a couple of links to outsourcing companies that do internet training, one being New Horizons (www.newhorizons.com), a company that is offering various "virtual classrooms" (as they have come to be called) in multiple disciplines. Another option, and one you should always check prior to going with expensive outsourcing, is your local (or not local, remember this is cyberspace) institution of higher education. You may be able to find what you need in their web offerings and possibly pick up college credits for you or your employees in the process .
Ok, finally here's the freebe. Go to www.teexwmdcampus.com, fill out the new user account information, click on the course offerings off the main page, and you will find a list of free Web courses offered. There are two Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) courses for EMS providers that are available and these are delivered via the net and will print a certificate of completion when the student has completed the program. These two courses are available without cost. It does not get any better than that. o
William R. Kerney, MA-EMTP-A, is a professor of emergency medical services at the Community College of Southern Nevada. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.