|Australian Journal of Educational Technology
1993, 9(1), 69-86.
Following a review of the economic imperatives currently facing Australia, the future directions training will take are examined. Related training issues are considered; such as multiskilling, on-the-job training and legal issues. The author predicts that technologically mediated learning (TML), especially interactive multimedia, will gain ascendancy as the predominant mode of delivery for training.
In the 1970s Australia was poised to become the world's commodity toy-shop with mountains of minerals and cheap energy to buy. In the 80s we have awoken from this prosperous dreamtime to a harsh economic environment in which our primary exports have lost ground in face of decreased demand and foreign competition. Our sheltered manufacturing sector has been exposed to import competition The deregulation of financial markets provided plentiful cash to fuel an unprecedented spate of acquisitions and speculative investment which sent share markets to dangerously dizzy heights. Our balance of payments went seriously into deficit, unemployment became the lot of many young people and managers and workers alike were shaken out of shrinking organisations. Then to cap it all down came the markets bringing with them the paper castles of entrepreneurs and small investors alike.Anyone neglectful enough to ignore Smith's account of the last twenty turbulent years in Australia's economic affairs will be well advised to heed the aphorism: those who fail to understand the past are bound to repeat it. More effort will have to be expended on developing the country's human capital potential if the scenario described by Smith (1988) is not to be repeated. Watkins (1989) extends this view and postulates that organised capitalism is in the process of being replaced by more fluid economic circumstances. Indeed there are indications of profound change occurring to Western industrialised economies (Lash & Urry, 1987); these changes must affect the way organisations in Australia view human capital. As organisations grapple with an increasingly dynamic competitive environment, so people resources will be increasingly seen as an important competitive advantage.
Link this reality with Australia's present training effort and part of the reason for the malaise of the economy will be apparent (DEET, 1988: 8):
According to Downs (1989) jobs of the future will require less memorising of facts and procedures, fewer physical skills, and far more conceptual ability. The American Society for Training and Development Futures HRD Task Force (ASTD, 1984) and Models for HRD Practice (McLagan, 1990) present impressive lists of training and development trends. Some of the more significant aspects of these predictions will be discussed here - such as how developments in computer-assisted learning, interactive videodisc technology and telecommunications delivery methods will change the way training is conceived, designed and delivered. There is remarkable congruence between American Society for Training and Development's now five-year-old projection and emerging training trends in Australia.
This change will have to be undertaken in close partnership with line managers who must be convinced to 'buy into' (Peters, 1989) the initiatives to ensure success of the venture. Highly-skilled trainers will need to be allocated to various line-managers for extended periods to work directly with the client to whom the service will be delivered on an as-needed project basis. In essence, training managers will have to disabuse themselves of the notion that centralised training will be the continuing modus operandi. Other methods of training which are not closely linked to corporate objectives, such as the 'cafeteria approach' (Kane, 1986), will rapidly become a luxury enjoyed in times past. Training managers will, of course, be responsible for coordinating the activities of trainers to see they are meeting the corporate goals, as well as putting out the line managers' "raining 'bushfires'. Evaluating the effectiveness of training against corporate goals is an activity on which training managers will need to focus more.
Given the lack of attention in Australia to international trends in training and development, it seems appropriate that industry awoke to the need for competent training and development for their employees following an incident involving a deficient training scheme. In essence the industrial legal system has used the precedent of this case to give advanced warning of the consequences of inadequate training and development. When this requirement is combined with employee training obligations under the Training Guarantee Act, the direction training initiatives should take is becoming apparent. This will need to be reflected in the quality of training provided to management as well as non-supervisory staff.
Of great concern is the tendency of training professionals to concentrate on technologically high end applications of telecommunications technology before other potentially more cost-effective solutions are thoroughly investigated. Despite what the advertising agencies and pundits would have us believe, no one form of technology, no matter how appealing, will be a panacea for all training needs. If organisations are going to benefit from TML then there is urgent need for both trainers and managers to become conversant with its potential applications.
For non-supervisory staff CBT has many advantages over traditional training techniques, such as supporting standardised testing and certification, which will increase in importance as award restructuring becomes an ongoing process. Well-designed CBT supports the principles of andragogy (adult learning) and will become increasingly important as a way of implementing self-directed learning. Also CBT has a capacity to make learning interactive for large numbers of people on a cost-effective basis. While CBT does offer individually-paced learning and some selection based on learner responses, these are essentially predetermined by the design of the courseware. But it is essential that designs do not overly restrict learner responses causing CBT packages to become the antithesis of self-directed learning.
The design and creation of quality CBT is more dependent on effective Instructional Design than authoring systems. Simply giving trainers a productivity tool like a CBT authoring language is certainly no guarantee that effective learning will occur. The design process is qualitatively different for CBT. Successfully designing of CBT involves far more than just manipulating text and graphics on a computer screen. Indeed even competent CBT designers take at least 100 hours to produce one hour of quality CBT. Dabbling by inadequately trained designers will result in many of the economic learning powers of CBT being dissipated. There are few competent, professionally trained CBT designers in Australia and the quality of software produced is variable. Unless the standards of CBT produced are kept high it will fall into disrepute and will fail to deliver the productivity gains predicted.
IVD can be considered a subset of the emerging multimedia technologies. It is worth observing, as Fletcher (1990: 1V-1) did (albeit now some three years ago), "At present there is no hardware technology that can competitively provide the functionalities that interactive videodisc systems can, but digital video, digital audio, and compact disc technology are all developing rapidly and will soon claim at least some of the territory now held by interactive videodisc systems." Of these disc-based technologies CD-ROM, or one of its many digital derivatives, is emerging as the next format to be widely adopted by training providers.
Interactive video represents the fusion of video and computer technology. (Parsloe, 1983, p.83). Teh and Perry (1984, p.2) suggest that IVD 'represents the synthesis of the instructional capabilities of television and the computer', while De Bloois (1982, p.33) suggests '... it is an entirely new medium with characteristics quite unlike each of the composites'. The key points of this fusion, as Bosco (1984) points out, is that the information on a videodisc can be controlled by the microprocessor so that the system reacts to learner behaviours. Moving images, stills, computer graphics and printed information can be combined and structured into an instructional unit which can readily interact with the learner.
A number of applications of IVD for training have been isolated. IVD is particularly effective for teaching mechanical and procedural skills. (Priestman, 1984). The cost of developing IVD with even a reasonable amount of interactivity is great in terms of man hours and technology. Media production, especially broadcast quality television, requires a large investment in equipment, and high labour costs. Competent planning is vital with this medium if costs are to be contained and a long shelf life of the courseware is to be assured. (Hosie, 1987a: 5)
Muller and Leonetti (1992, p. 17) have summarised the advantages of using IVD for instruction:
De Bloois' (1988) review of 30 studies of military, government, military and educational uses of IVD between 1980-87 makes the case for the cost effective use of IVD in training. Also commenting in the defence training context, Fletcher (1990) observed that investments in IVD are paid back during the lifetime of the courseware. Unlike conventional training methods, the bulk of cost of IVD are incurred during the development phase, not prior to delivery. But subsequent delivery and maintenance costs are low. The Institute for Defense Analysis (1990) has established that IVD lessons are significantly less costly (average savings of 64%) than traditional methods. Break-even analyses can readily establish the point when IVD becomes a cheaper method (compared to conventional approaches) of delivering instruction (Brandt, 1987). In contrast to instructor or paper dominated training methods, the cost per user for IVD applications decreases every time the courseware is used.
The data available suggests that IVD is an effective teaching and learning medium, especially in the area of training simulation. Removing the variability of human teaching is a major advantage of IVD courseware. Kearsly (1983) observes, computers have certain advantages in instructional settings, such as permitting "students to learn at their own pace, individual learning styles are considered, resulting in increased student satisfaction. Most importantly, there is more control over learning materials and learning processes" (p.14).
From an extensive review of the literature Brandt (1986) identified a number of situations where the use of IVD should be considered for a training delivery system. These were:
New courseware designs, which do not rigidly structure learner responses, need to be explored to complement this medium of instruction. Successful adoption of IVD depends on developing quality courseware which takes into account the unique attributes of the technology. Experience to date indicates that IVD designs are only just beginning to exploit the capacity of the technology.
There is an increasing array of useful IVD software available for industry. However, take-up rates are relatively low and development costs high, so only well-targeted applications with demonstrable cost-benefit pay-offs are likely to occur in the short term. When industry becomes attuned to using TML methods there is likely to be an increased use of IVD as a training delivery and certification device. Cost justification becomes all the more important when TML approaches are adopted.
Australian educational technologists face the challenge of convincing management to invest in telecommunications for some important aspects of education and training. Despite well proven overseas models and ample evidence to indicate the cost and learning effectiveness (Hosie, 1987,1988; Lundin, 1988) of using telecommunications, Australia has been slow to take advantage of possibilities the technology offers. Why is this so?Hosie, Charman and Atkinson (1991) provide a comprehensive description and analysis of telecommunications suitable for use in education and training:
As Lange (1984) accurately ventures: fear, apathy, lack of encouragement and ignorance are the main reasons why implementation of telecommunications technology for the delivery and administration of education and training has lagged behind in Australia. Not surprisingly these disincentives have resulted in a lack of effective policy developments. Without well-researched and marketed policy there is unlikely to be forward motion.
Educational and training administrators and policy developers in Australia could be fairly accused of all of Lange's sins in relation to developing the uses of telecommunications technology but they cannot all be overcome instantly. Also, decision-makers in education have been elevated to their management positions before these technologies became widely used.
One obvious deficiency is the lack of information and understanding of telecommunications technologies throughout the general community, including amongst lecturers, teachers and trainers. What understanding people have is fragmented, disjointed and often confused with commercial brand names. High-end applications such as video conferencing are the most known and sought after by educators and trainers. However, once awareness is raised and sources of information provided, considerable interest may be shown in alternative technologies of a simpler and more affordable nature. Often, facilities are available for use but knowledge of their application to education and training is limited. (Hosie, Charman & Atkinson, 1991).
While the terms "low" and "high" may not represent relative measures, they do indicate extremes on a continuum. As a general guide each point was rated with both the provider (agency or teacher) and user (student) in mind. In an effort to keep the rating simple, many factors which influence the selection were combined into general headings, resulting in some loss of detail but giving improved readability. Ratings assumed typical use in an educational or training environment. (Hosie, Charman & Atkinson, 1991).
|Additional support staff||1||2||3||4||5|
|Ease of use factor||low||high|
|Hardware ease of use||1||2||3||4||5|
|Software ease of use||1||2||3||4||5|
|Perth metropolitan area||1||2||3||4||5|
|Teacher and learner factors||low||high|
|Interactivity with students||1||2||3||4||5|
|Retention of ordinary teaching methods||1||2||3||4||5|
|Control pace and sequence of lesson||1||2||3||4||5|
|Review previous instructions||1||2||3||4||5|
Many aspects of training, delivered using traditional methods, are suited to TML systems. I predict that professionally skilled trainers who are capable of designing, delivering and evaluating training using new technology will eventually overtake trainers using traditional methods. Already there is a strong unmet demand for Instructional Designers in this area.
Despite the fears of trainers, the introduction of TML does not spell the demise of all conventional learning techniques, such as classroom-based instruction. In fact many TML delivery techniques, especially those involving real-time telecommunications, can be conceived of as an extension of traditional training techniques which can assist trainers to become more effective but before TML can become 'institutionalised', management needs to be convinced of its efficacy.
In an effort to avoid repeating an unfortunate image problem, training professionals need to 'move away from having to rely on goodwill towards creating a more 'business like' image by greater focus on solving organisational performance problems, on cost-benefit ratios, and upon quantifiable results' (Kane, 1986: 43). Trainers need to be less concerned with enhancing learning as an end in itself and become more focused on improving performance. Fitz-enz (1989) considers that in the future trainers' activities must focus on results not activities, concentrate on customer goals and always create value. In contrast Latham (1988: 561) considers that economic measures are primitive and that: 'seeing a positive behaviour change on the part of subordinates will result in upper management treating training seriously - more seriously than if presented with dollar estimates that justify time spent on training'. Despite surface disagreements these views are not irreconcilable - the economic cost and value of changing behaviour through training can, and will be considered by organisations much more closely.
There can be little doubt that the primary role for managers in the 21st century will be the continuing development of their people' (AITD, 1988: 8). Smith and Delahaye (1988: 136) indicate some directions this might take:
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|Author: Peter J. Hosie BEd, BA (Hons), MBus is currently a Senior Educational Development Officer with Ngee Ann Polytechnic's Educational Development Centre and is responsible for the design and development of multimedia learning materials. Prior to this, Peter was Head of Media Production at Ngee Ann, a Human Resource and Training Consultant in Australia, a Personnel Project Officer at the University of WA, an Executive Officer for the WA Government's Task Force on Telecommunications in Education and Training, a Training Program Designer for SECWA, an Education Officer with the Audio-Visual Education Branch of the Education Department of WA and a secondary school English teacher. He has published over 25 major papers on technologically mediated learning and human resource development/management as well as being involved in the design and production of many educational TV programs, some involving interactive techniques.
Please cite as: Hosie, P. J. (1993). Technologically mediated learning: The future of training in Australia. Australian Journal of Educational Technology, 9(1), 69-86. http://www.ascilite.org.au/ajet/ajet9/hosie.html