Computer-based training (CBT) delivered via the Internet, company intranet, or CD-ROM is gaining wide acceptance. Here are seven reasons why:
Group classroom training takes time, and lots of it. Studies show that computer-based training reduces training time by as much as 48 percent. Slashing training time, eliminating travel time and expenses for learners and instructors, and reducing facility and delivery costs all translate into significant improvements in training cost effectiveness.
You can train your employees via the Worldwide Web. Or if you have firewall or other security constraints, programs can be installed on your company intranet and run entirely within your organization’s computer system.
Consistent, global delivery
The material presented will be consistent from training session to training session and from site to site, throughout the entire organization. This helps you meet compliance and legal considerations as well as to be assured of the highest quality training to reduce incidents.
Reach all learners simultaneously with updates, ensuring consistently up-to-the-minute training company-wide.
With training available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, you can easily and conveniently schedule training around production demands and learners’ work schedules, often eliminating the need for overtime to conduct training.
An employee familiar with the subject but required to document refresher training can move through the material quickly. Conversely, learners who are more challenged with material are automatically directed into remedial or developmental training until they can prove comprehension. Either way, learners progress at their own pace, ensuring the highest comprehension and retention of important safety lessons.
The interactive nature of well-designed CBT engages the learner as an active participant in training. Interactions throughout a program result in higher comprehension and retention. The instructional design of the course and interactions promote a transfer of knowledge from short-term to long-term memory.
Sidebar: OSHA compliance
Several OSHA Standards Interpretation and Compliance Letters posted on the OSHA website (www.osha-slc.gov/OshDoc/Interp_data) address the issue of how computer-based training meets OSHA’s requirement that training-related questions be answered in a timely fashion. OSHA’s position boils down to this:
- First, there must be a way to accommodate training topic questions that may come up during training (as opposed to program operation questions that a learning lab attendant could answer).
- Second, although the accommodation for answering questions must be made, that does not necessarily mean a topic expert has to be physically present while the learner is using the computer program.
One of the advantages of well-designed CBT is that trainees rarely run into a question or topic that totally stumps them. When a learner’s answers or interaction responses indicate that he or she may be struggling with a topic, the program automatically directs them into remedial training until they show mastery of the topic. If you are using programs designed with adult learning methodologies and remedial loops, your trainees should only rarely need to ask questions.
On the rare occasions when a trainee does need questions answered, several means of providing answers can be used:
1) A telephone hotline that gives trainees direct access to someone qualified to answer questions on the subject. For example, the training material provider might service a telephone hotline that gives access to a topic expert.
2) A telephone for access to an in-house expert on the training topic.
3) Email access to someone qualified to answer questions. Again, this can be an outside or inside person qualified to train on the topic.
Whatever the format, OSHA points out that a trainee may not be able to proceed with training until the question is answered, so all answers must be provided “in a timely manner.” (Letter dated 10/20/1999 on Web-based HAZWOPER refresher training.)
While not ideal, another alternative is to use training programs that are designed so trainees, “cannot progress further in the program if they cannot indicate mastery of topics upon which additional training is based. This last option cannot replace but can supplement access to a qualified trainer.” (Letter dated 10/20/1999 on web-based HAZWOPER refresher training.)
As always, OSHA stresses the importance of hands-on training, drills and exercises as a way to make sure learners understand and can apply the material, whether their initial training took place in a classroom or on a computer.