Multi-media Training

Multi-media Training

With the business world changing at the blink of an eye nowadays, it has now become crucial for corporations to make sure that all employees are up-to-date in their respective fields. This is usually achieved through training sessions that are either provided for by the company or are required for the employee to keep their job. But, just as the business world has changed due to technology; the computer, Internet, and other various multimedia tools have also impacted the world of training. With technology easily and readily available in this day and age, it comes as no surprise that many companies are already reaping the benefits of multimedia training. However, is this type of training flawless? Are other companies who do not provide this type of training employing less productive workers? By looking at reasons why multimedia training has become so popular and also investigating some recent trends in multimedia training, I will attempt to answer these questions. I will also look at a company’s experience that has already begun to utilize multimedia training.

As pointed out earlier, computer technology has already changed the way people perform their jobs. The recent trend has been to change the way people learn how to perform their jobs. While it is apparent that computers will never entirely replace human-aided training, more and more training will begin to take place in front of a screen instead of at seminars over the next few years. There are several reasons why this is true.

The first benefit to multimedia training is cost. It is true that interactive training tools are very expensive to produce initially, but as technology becomes cheaper and cheaper in the future, the costs to produce this type of training will also begin to decline. Also, when looking at a long-term picture, multimedia training is relatively cheap. The initial cost is high, but it can still be far less expensive than having a human instructor teach several training sessions over a long period of time. Plus, one multimedia-training tool, such as a CD-ROM, can be used or shared among several employees, whereas a human instructor would have to hold several sessions to teach several employees.

The next reason for the recent growth in multimedia training is the accessibility it provides. When using a human instructor, a company may not want to hold a training session until enough employees are hired that could benefit from the training so that the company could avoid holding multiple sessions. With multimedia training, this is simply not true. The media could be used by one person or by a group at relatively the same cost, so it is not necessary to gather a large pool of employees before training can begin. Also, multimedia tools can be delivered just-in-time or whenever the trainees need it. There is no need to work around a trainer’s schedule and a trainee’s schedule. For example, assuming the employee has access to a computer, he or she could be given a training CD-ROM to take home and study. The employee could then be quizzed the next day to see how much they learned. This seems to be much more advantageous than waiting until there are enough employees who could benefit from the human instructor and then finding an appropriate time that all employees and the trainer could meet.

Another benefit of computer-based training is its ability to minutely track the learning event. Since the user is interacting with a computer, the system is able to track and monitor each interaction. This can provide personnel with the information they may need to further the learning experience. It can show them what the trainee knows and does not know, what they have learned from using the media, how fast they learned the new information, and how they learned the new information. All of this information would be virtually impossible to collect from a human trainer who had just held a seminar that instructed numerous employees.

The last, and probably the strongest, argument for multimedia training is its effectiveness. George Roughan, president of Chimera Multimedia Productions, say of the multimedia programs he has developed, “With multimedia interactive training we can model or create the perfect instructional environment better than with any other method, short of one-to-one apprenticeship. In the multimedia virtual reality world, we can build the composite perfect instructor. We can also build a virtual environment within which students can engage in discovery learning – – exploring, trying different ways to do things, making mistakes and trying again until they discover what works and what doesn’t.” Studies have shown that this type of experimental learning works better than others because it helps ensure retention of knowledge and skills.

But, just as training has changed over the few years to a more technology-based type of training, multimedia training has also recently been changing and developing certain trends within itself. The main trend seems to be moving from computer-based training (CBT) to web-based training (WBT). Web-based training refers to instructional programs delivered on the Internet and intranet-based training systems. In 2002, WBT accounted for roughly half of all corporate training programs while CBT has steadily declined over the past few years. There are several advantages to WBT that are the possible reasons for this increase. The first advantage is the low cost relative to CBT. WBT can be delivered to anyone who has a computer and an Internet connection, which is a lot cheaper and more efficient than producing numerous CD-ROMs for employees to use. Another advantage to WBT is how easy it is to update the material. With WBT, the resources can be updated by simply adding new information to the already existing program; however, with CBT it becomes necessary to create brand new CD-ROMs with the new information in it. Probably the biggest advantage of WBT is its fluidity. Since a CD-ROM is published, the user is limited to its parameters. To be more specific, the user can only browse through the different areas that the CD-ROM may cover. But with WBT, the different learning objects can be stored and can be accessed by a keyword search rather than tediously searching through chapter menus on a CD-ROM.

With all of the advantages of multimedia training, it is surprising to find out that there are still companies who do not use it. So, have the companies that do utilize this training benefited from it? Caltex Oil Company based in Australia tested the implementation of multimedia training in its convenience stores. The programs were developed to allow more training to occur on-site or after hours to minimize labor costs. The software allows the user to browse around the “virtual” convenience store, clicking on areas within the store to learn more about customer service, add-on selling, and merchandising. In the stores with the multimedia training, overall sales increased by 11% and sales within the shop itself increased by 18%. As more of the stores implemented the program, similar results were found.

It may seem that multimedia training is a flawless tool; that it is a win-win situation for the company and the employees. While this may be true to some extent, multimedia training still has its drawbacks. For one thing, nothing can ever replace a human instructor as far as feedback is concerned. Any question may be asked of a human instructor, which may not be true with different types of technology. Also, one of the benefits of multimedia training is also one of its flaws: price. Even though savings may be achieved in the long run, a company with very few employees may want to pursue other training options due to the extremely high initial cost of multimedia training software.

There are many ways a company may benefit from the use of multimedia training: the long-term savings, the effectiveness, the fluidity, and the accessibility. Despite all of these benefits, multimedia training is not flawless. Although it seems as though this training is the way of the future, it is important for a corporation to realize that the best teachers are still human instructors. Perhaps the best answer is a mix between multimedia training and human instruction. However, the spread and rapid growth of multimedia training is a testament to its success and effectiveness.