20.10.2014 |

LOGFILE No. 22/2014 - Electronic Training Systems

Electronic Training Systems

An excerpt from the GMP MANUAL

by Dr. Michael Hiob

E-learning/Computer-based training

E-learning includes all types of learning that use digital media to distribute learning materials and/or for communication (computer-based training = CBT). There are various e-learning systems with differing degrees of interactivity:

  • Simulation systems where learners can learn to solve problems in a playful way, e.g. using simulations games
  • Tutorial systems that react to the input of the learner whilst offering support
  • Presentation systems that present individual multimedia learning program modules. The learner is guided through a ready-made program, i.e. digital books

The works council should be consulted when defining the conditions for saving and using person-related data when electronic media are used.

Figure 1 gives an overview of the advantages and disadvantages of e-learning.

Advantages of e-learning

  • Reduced training costs and downtime
  • Consistent quality of training measures
  • Avoidance of scheduling and human resource bottlenecks
  • New methods
  • Unlike traditional learning materials, courses are interactive
  • Abstract content is illustrated using simulations
  • The course content can be easily individualised and repeated and the learning progress checked
  • Courses can be linked to the learning content management systems used in the company (learning objects can be reused)
  • Asynchronous cooperation in courses
  • Courses can take place at any time regardless of location
  • Training is easy to document
  • It is easy to integrate audio and video documents

Disadvantages of e-learning

  • The learners have to familiarise themselves with the different media
  • There are very few high-quality products on the market at this time
  • The presentation of the learning content is often determined by technical rather than didactic factors
  • Learners may feel isolated
  • Investment cost for hardware and software

Web-based training

A disadvantage of CBT programs that are distributed as CD-ROMs is the isolation of learners. E-learning will only succeed if learning in the intranet or Internet takes place in the form of web-based courses that allow participant interaction. Web-based training courses (WBT) offer added value through up-to-date content and networking. Learning units are not saved on storage media, but provided online in the Internet or intranet using a Web server. The use of the Internet or intranet offers the learner a multitude of possibilities for communicating and interacting with the other learners. If WBT is moderated by a trainer/tutor, it is called moderated WBT (mWBT). The mWBT trainer links email, news, online chat, archives for learning materials and discussion forums to the WBT. He/she shows the learners how to use these tools and encourages them to do so.

WBTs are now the most popular e-learning technology for in-house training in larger companies. The costs are still too high for medium-sized and especially for smaller-sized companies. Web-based training requires a high-performance intranet. As WBTs require relatively little maintenance, they are the preferred medium for content that is rapidly changing.

However, CBTs are often used for data-intensive applications and standardised learning programs (for both companies and end users).

Careful analysis of the target group is an important factor when choosing and using these media. Their use can only be efficient if they are tailored to the requirements of the company.

Blended Learning

Learning management systems (LMS) can be used to organise events. These are electronic systems that are used for overall event management or parts of event management (booking processes, teaching and learning processes, resource management). Moodle is an example of an open-source platform. It is an object-oriented course management system. The software can be used to support cooperative teaching and learning methods and is widely used.

The individual tasks of an LMS can include:

  • Planning: This involves planning and compiling (online) courses/seminars, creating personalised curricula based on grading tests or learning units that have already been completed, and creating learning profiles for work groups or for the entire workforce.
  • Registration: The online registration for all available courses, often with an integrated interface for an e-commerce system, e.g. for ordering documents
  • Provision of course materials: The saved contents are available in different presentation formats (e.g. for WBT and classroom teaching)
  • Certification: Documentation of the course of training and completed courses
  • Measurement of success: Measurement of use as well as management of results

Some LMS include a teacher and room management system that allows a modification of dates and persons at a later stage and reports any scheduling conflicts. The number of functions can be quite comprehensive, e.g. if the system offers integrated working hours/holiday management for teachers, storing room-related data (number of seats, available resources such as projectors and overhead projectors), etc. The existing data can be used to create comprehensive reports, e.g. for room plans and timetables or for the learning progress of individual participants.

learning content management system (LCMS) can be used to create, reuse, find, edit and distribute learning contents in electronic systems. The learning content is often contained in learning objects which are saved in a central directory structure or database. Objects can be referenced from several different courses, i.e. if an object needs to be modified, the changes only have to be made once. The LCMS offers a user management system that allows certain rights be assigned to different persons or groups. For example, different specific access functions can be defined/realised for experts in certain fields, such as media designers and project administrators. In addition, an LCMS usually provides a version control for tracking any changes that are made. One of the most important features of an LCMS is that it supports reusable learning objects. The aim is to prevent unwanted redundancies and conflicting information as far as possible.

Author:

Dr. Michael Hiob

Ministry of Health of Land Schleswig-Holstein

 

This article is an excerpt from the GMP MANUAL.

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