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40 years of change in training: Part 2

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In the second of three articles to commemorate the ruby anniversary of Video Arts, Martin Addison continues his look at the evolution of training.
This negetaive attitude towards elearning began to change when evolving levels of interactivity created the potential for a just-in-time multimedia experience that gave a more satisfying, richer and more engaging experience for learners.The content became modular, allowing learners to create a customised learning path of 'bite-sized chunks', depending on their needs.
 
This led to another fundamental cultural shift, from seeing 'training as an event' to 'learning as a journey', as individuals began to take responsibility for their own 'lifelong learning'.
The idea of combining shorter classroom-based training courses with elearning struck a chord in organisations and the notion of blended learning was born. This led to another fundamental cultural shift, from seeing 'training as an event' to 'learning as a journey', as individuals began to take responsibility for their own 'lifelong learning'.
The rise of elearning saw a change in the role of the trainer. Instead of being the 'sage on the stage', trainers became 'the guide on the side': a business partner, responsible for creating an environment in which people could work and learn. A new skill for trainers was the ability to create the right 'blend' for each particular audience.
As learning management systems were developed to monitor and track learning, trainers began to place greater emphasis on Donald Kirkpatrick’s four levels of evaluation. Organisations also became more concerned with measuring their return on investment.
Online, Web 2.0 and 'anywhere, anytime' learning
A second wave of interest in elearning was triggered by the growth of the World Wide Web, which began to change the way businesses operated. In the 1990s, suppliers of elearning resources started to explore the option of delivering learning via the web.
With traditional elearning, the learner was on the receiving end of linear content. There may have been interactivity but the training was an individual and private experience, through guided courses. The evolution of Web 2.0 technology allowed learners to collaborate and to create and share their own content. It also opened the door to web conferencing, virtual classrooms, social networking and streaming video.
The rise of elearning saw a change in the role of the trainer. Instead of being the 'sage on the stage', trainers became 'the guide on the side': a business partner, responsible for creating an environment in which people could work and learn.
Streaming video overcame the main disadvantage of using a DVD in training: namely that you physically had to move the resource around. If you were using a DVD for training in Newcastle, your colleague in Birmingham couldn’t use the same resource at the same time. By streaming video clips over an intranet or the internet, anybody at anytime and anywhere could view them. The creation of commercial video libraries mimicked the introduction of similar technology in the consumer world such as iTunes and BBC iPlayer, offering flexible online access to thousands of individual video clips. Instead of buying a DVD, trainers could just license the digital clips they wanted and they could paste these into MS PowerPoint presentations or elearning resources.
The market began to move on from the old-style approach of providing a structured pathway through learning material, to a more dynamic approach. The role of the learning and development department became less about providing learning at specific times and more about pushing out content to people and enabling them to access and use it on-demand.
M-learning and 'one-stop-shop' libraries
The advent of smartphones and tablet computers such as the iPad - with touch sensitive, full colour screens - has taken this further. These devices offer a dynamic way for individuals to consume learning content and access just-in-time performance support on the-move. M-learning is gaining ground as a way of reinforcing and embedding learning that has been delivered through other means.
Video libraries have now evolved into complete libraries of video training clips, elearning and m-learning courses, workshop resources and digital books, enabling trainers to pick and choose from the available content to create a tailored learning solution for their learners. Today's learning and talent management systems enable organisations to create tailored learning paths, schedule and manage all learning, track and report on all learning activity and feed information back to their HR system.
All of this would have been unimaginable in 1972. Much has, indeed, changed over the past 40 years. In the next article, I’ll look at the lessons that organisations have learned from these changes and the implications for trainers. See you then.
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Martin Addison is CEO of Video Arts, providers of generic, tailored and custom video training, elearning and m-learning solutions. He can be contacted on 020 7400 4800 or via maddison@videoarts.co.uk

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