Selecting Distance Learning Technologies

For this assignment, I need to recommend distance learning technologies that best support an asynchronous training module. The employees at a manufacturing plant require safety training. The employees must demonstrate their knowledge of safety procedures to their supervisors to demonstrate completion of the course.

With asynchronous training, the instructional designer may include presentation slides for lists of safety rules and video demonstrations of proper safety techniques. I believe a media sharing site that can host audio and video and provide assessment is necessary. Recently for work, I reviewed a company called Brainshark that provides an elegant solution for this need. Brainshark hosts narrated presentations, videos, and related files such as documents or job aids that students can download. Students are directed from a learning portal showing the available modules into the individual modules. The modules can be broken up into short pieces with a table of contents to guide them through the course. Their Rapid Learning module provides feedback to the administrators that includes: who watched each module, how much time did they spend on each module, and what were their scores on the assessments in each module. For an example of the BrainShark eLearning solution, visit: http://www.brainshark.com/brainsharkinc/vu?pi=777313443.

Instructors need to take care when creating pre-recorded audio and video for asynchronous training. The multimedia elements should be engaging and professionally done so the learners remain focused on the content instead of distracted by the inadequacies of the production quality. Essex (2006) includes six great tips for pre-recorded content in his article on podcasts.

One drawback to the Brainshark solution is that the student is unable to share comments, ask questions, or discuss the material. Therefore, a separate web discussion technology is needed to actively engage students in learning (Laureate Education). A discussion forum can be used by the instructor to stimulate ideas and promote interaction between the students. Students can continue existing discussions or create new threads to ask questions. Discussion forums can be public or private where members must be invited or approved by the forum administrator. An example of a public forum is the 3DVIA Composer forum where customers and prospects can discuss issues about this product. Another example for eLearning is the discussion board for the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD).

There are many other wonderful tools and sites to facilitate asynchronous training. Media sharing sites and discussion forums seem to be necessary elements for successful asynchronous training.

References

3DVIA Composer discussion forum. http://forums.3dmojo.com/

ASTD forum. http://community.astd.org/eve/forums/a/frm/f/6401041

Brainshark. http://presentation.brainshark.com/

Essex, C. (2006). Podcasting: A new delivery method for faculty development. Distance Learning, (3(2), 39-43.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (n.d.). The Technology of Distance Education. Multimedia program retrieved from http://sylvan.live.ecollege.com/ec/crs/default.learn?CourseID=4744647&Survey=1&47=6523831&ClientNodeID=984650&coursenav=1&bhcp=1.

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2 Responses to “Selecting Distance Learning Technologies”

  1. Mike Fredrickson Says:

    An even better alternative to Brainshark, with true video/PowerPoint synchronization support and superior user interface and footnoting capability is KnowledgeVision (http://www.knowledgevision.com). One of the things we really liked about KnowledgeVision when we evaluated it was a programmable zoom control, that allowed the content creator to emphasize, at different times, either the video and the PowerPoint portions of the presentation. We also liked the ability to add footnotes to KnowledgeVision online presentations, that can be synchronized to the video.

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