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September 25, 2006

Converting In-Class Training to Distance Learning Programs: Challenges and Issues: Part 3

By Alex Heiphetz

Distance learning requires accommodations on the part of trainees as well.

In a regular training session, a trainee receives a significant volume of information from interaction with peers. Distance learning reduces peer-to-peer contact to electronic communication at best. Consequently, one of the major general tasks in front of you is to foster all kinds of interaction between trainees—via electronic bulletin boards, e-mail; engaging them in group discussions and tasks.

Technical problems can literally lock out students from attending distance training sessions. As a result:

 

Nvtech_vc0039261. All technical requirements must be made available well before registration. However, do not be surprised if a trainee tries to play a DVD in a CD player and is frustrated that “it doesn’t work.” Therefore:

2. Technical support staff/company must be available to trainees via e-mail, bulletin board and over the phone at reasonable times to help with all technical questions.

3. Having bulletin board communication and frequently asked questions section on your course Web site will help communicate general issues to the class as a whole and save a lot of time, effort and frustration to both trainees and tech support staff.

Today, training means, first of all, tight schedules. The challenge of supplying trainees with all the necessary courseware in time for training sessions means that you must schedule and enforce time lines for both the courseware provider and trainees: for a provider to stand by, ready to fulfill orders and for students to order required materials in time to receive them before training session starts. It is also helpful to have access to or create your own library of electronic documents in a generally accessible format that trainees can access over the Web.

At the time when many companies research opportunities to change training sessions to remote training format you owe it to yourself to explore the opportunities offered by this format. However, you need to be prepared to meet these challenges of the new setup in order to reap the (yes, and they are plentiful) benefits of transition to distance training or hybrid format.

Alex Heiphetz received Ph.D. in geophysics from the University of Pittsburgh in 1994. After working for Geo-Mechanics, a consulting business, he started an independent company in 1997. Delta L Printing specializes in business services to training companies and educational institutions: training management software, publishing, audio and video production. Heiphetz can be reached via e-mail at alex.heiphetz@deltalprinting.com or through the company Web site at www.deltaLprinting.com.

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