High-Tech Training

April 5, 2012 at 8:12 pm 5 comments

Image of a TreeLast year, I was shopping for plants for my garden and noticed that some of the fruit trees had tags with QR codes on them. I was able to use my phone to scan the code and learn more about the tree. I was able to get information about the tree’s light and water requirements, how tall it would grow and other information about taking care of it. I was also able to see tips, reviews and pictures left by people who had “real world” experience with the plant. It was information that helped me make a decision about buying the tree. These same technologies could be applied to training, making it more mobile and collaborative.

Online Learning

Online learning is instruction delivered through the internet (Noe, 2010). Online learning modules can include text, hyperlinks, audio, video, simulations and a variety of interactive elements to engage learners. Since the internet can be accessed almost anywhere on any device with internet capabilities, this means that online learning could be accessed almost anywhere. I was able to learn about growing a peach tree at the moment it mattered – when I was standing in front of one trying to decide if I could grow it. Not only was I able to learn what experts knew about the tree, but I was also able to learn from regular gardeners like me who had some experience with it.  If I had decided to buy the tree, I could have used the online learning when planting the tree, or when something went wrong with it after planting. In this way, the online learning could also serve as performance support.


Video is useful for teaching a variety of process and interpersonal skills (Noe, 2010). It is an effective way to illustrate concepts that are difficult to explain with words, or too costly or dangerous to demonstrate in a classroom. It also allows learners to skip parts they know and rewind parts they need to see again. Video has become easier and less expensive to make and distribute. Almost everyone with a smart phone can create and upload videos right from their device. For trainers, this means that video is not limited to pushing out content to learners. Learners can create their own videos and upload them for review by their peers and instructors. It can be used to ask questions, illustrate examples or demonstrate applied knowledge and skills. Not only could I see a video of how to properly plant a tree, but when my tree got sick I could take a video submit it to the site for advice from subject matter experts or other users.


Groupware is collaboration software that allows learners to work together on projects (Noe, 2010). Learners can share resources, organize and analyze content, and work together to complete projects. They do not have to be in the same place at the same time to engage in collaborative learning activities because the software provides the tools to facilitate communication. With groupware, online learning does not have to be a solitary, passive activity. Learns can use the software to engage with others to increase their understanding of the content and build learning communities.

Mobile Devices

Mobile devices allow learners to access and share information. Applications for mobile devices add additional functionality that can enhance Image of a phone with a peach on the screen.learning and collaboration. With a mobile device, learners can access content, share new resources or information, and ask questions (Ahmad & Orton, 2010). Location based applications allow learners to access information that is relevant to where they are. This increases the potential for content to be customized to meet learner needs. If I could tag where my tree is located, I could receive planting and care instruction based on my climate zone.

Cloud Computing

Cloud computing refers to a series of services offered over the Internet. These services include applications, infrastructure and platforms. An organization can use cloud services to create, store, and distribute content through a service provider instead of buying, installing and maintaining the software, servers and other resources necessary to accomplish these tasks. (Gilmore, 2010). This can result in cost savings for the organization, increase the speed at which content can be developed and delivered, and offer more flexibility for keeping content up-to-date. For trainers, it means that content can be developed and uploaded to the cloud where learners can download it when needed. Changes and updates can be made to the resources in the cloud, which ensures everyone with access has the most current content. Learners can also use applications in the cloud to share resources and collaborate with each other.  It also offers the potential for trainers to be more innovative. Instead of purchasing expensive software that may only be used a few times a year to develop content, the content can designed with cloud services on a fee-for-service basis (Gilmore, 2010). In addition, time that would have spent building and maintaining the IT infrastructure for training can be spent supporting users and learners and keeping learning objects up-to-date (He, et. al., 2011).

This three-minute video explains the advantages of cloud computing in learning environments. Cloud Computing for Education

New technologies have the potential to reshape the way learners access and use training resources. However, they are only as effective as the work put into designing and developing the learning content they are used to deliver. The learner must be the focus, not the technology, and the content has to be developed and organized to meet their needs. If the benefit of mobile learning is that content can be relevant to the context in which it is accessed, then the designer must understand the context and ensure the material is relevant. Trainers must also understand the advantages and limitations of the various tools in order to make the best use of them. It will not do to simply repurpose a slide presentation for online learning, especially if learners are expected to access it over a mobile device. At the end of the day, trainers must understand the learners’ needs, and identify the best way to use technology to deliver the right content.


Ahmad, N., & Orton, P. (2010). Smartphones make IBM smarter, but not as expected. Training and Development, 64(1), 46–50.

Gilmore, A. (2010). Learning in the cloud. Chief Learning Officer, 9(2), 32 – 35. Retrieved April 3, 2012 from http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/mediatec/clo0210/#/34.

He, W., Cernusca, D., & Abdous, M. (2011). Exploring cloud computing for distance learning. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 14(3). Retrieved April 3, 2012 from http://www.westga.edu/%7Edistance/ojdla/fall143/he_cernusca_abdous143.html

Noe, R. A. (2010). Employee training and development (5th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Tree Image. Retrieved April 5, 2012 from http://officeimg.vo.msecnd.net/en-us/images/MB900442826.jpg


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5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Celia Wilson  |  April 7, 2012 at 2:05 am

    Alexis, I really enjoyed reading your blog. It was clear, concise and informative, especially since your choices were different from my own. Using your personal story throughout really helped to me visualize each aspect of training you were discribing. Learning more about Cloud Computing was great. I hear it all the time on tv and radio. I didn’t know what it was. Thank you for providing a clear understanding along with the video.

    • 2. Celia Wilson  |  April 7, 2012 at 2:42 am

      Alexis, (Sorry I wasn’t finished)

      According to (Ouellette & Wilkerson, 2008) parental involvement in parent management training programs (PMT) will be enhanced through the use of technology a sa means to deliver this service. I wrote about this on my blog. I am wondering how a PMT or Parent Learning System another name for LMS, how this relates to Cloud Computing? Is the LMS/PMT a form of Cloud or is it on a Cloud?

      One last thing. I remember going to a museum. I was given a recorder to carry with me. If I passed something I was interested in I scanned my recoder device over something and it played an informative piece on that item. I thought it was great. I don’t thinkg it was as highly developed as using your phone, but that would be cool if our phones could be used to replace the recorder device.

      Thanks again for sharing such wonderful information.

      • 3. Alexis Williams  |  April 7, 2012 at 4:18 pm

        Thanks Celia.

        A learning management system could be offered through both means. An organization might house a learning management system on its own servers, especially if it wants custom features or has security concerns. An organization with a distributed workforce or one looking to save costs might choose an LMS in the cloud. An example of a cloud based LMS is the TRAIN system (https://www.train.org). This LMS was developed by the Public Health Foundation to serve public health agencies. Any agency that provides training for public health professionals can use the system, and anyone can access it to search for courses. State public health agencies can buy-in as affiliates and use it to manage learning for their staff. Since the costs are shared across affiliates, it is less expensive than developing their own system and they do not have to worry about maintenance. It has resulted in substantial cost savings for member agencies, an estimated $11 million over five years compared to traditional LMS (TRAIN, nd). It also helps support the workforce development activities for field, since anyone can use it to locate trainings that are based in the core public health competencies.

        I have also used those museum tour recordings. I think museums are starting to explore the use of QR codes (Wheeler, 2011). The benefit of using a QR code is that you do not have to follow the tour prerecorded on tape. Since QR codes link to websites, you can also provide richer multimedia content than you can with a recording.

        TRAIN. (nd). “Quick Facts.” Retrieved April 7, 2012 from http://www.phf.org/resourcestools/Documents/TRAIN%20Quick%20Facts%203-2-12.pdf

        Wheeler,J. (2011, August 30). “QR Codes in Museums.” The Mobilists. Retrieved April 7, 2012 from http://www.themobilists.com/2011/08/30/qr-codes-in-museums/

  • 4. Dr. Burke  |  April 10, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    Great introduction to your Blog posting this week. I liked your example of using online learning for the selection and planting of a peach tree. What impact do you see online learning having in the future of training? You made a very good point regarding the ease by which learners can now use their smart phones to video tape their assignments and other resources to share with their colleagues and instructors. You made an excellent observation on the potential uses of location based applications on a mobile device. This feature will increase the potential for customizing content to meet the learner’s needs. What other advantages and implications will mobile technology have for the future of training?

    I really enjoyed reading your section on cloud computing. You made a very good point regarding the cost savings realized by sharing software and infrastructure through cloud computing services. Thank you for sharing the very informative link to Cloud Computing in Education. Also thank you for sharing the example of the Cloud based LMS system TRAIN. Your response to Celia was very informative. Great closing paragraph.

  • 5. Alexis Williams  |  April 15, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    Thank you for the feedback Dr. Mike. I think online learning will allow more people to access learning. For instance, people in rural areas or people who cannot attend traditional classes because of their schedules will be able to access learning online. I think it will also allow for more flexible learning activities that can be easily updated in the workplace. However, the potential for the success of online learning will based on our ability to deliver quality training that meets the needs of learners. I think online learning will not live up to its full potential if we continue to use it to deliver narrated slide shows.

    I have a similar opinion about mobile technology. According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, mobile devices are helping to increase access to the internet for populations that had lower access in the past (Smith, 2010). In fact, African Americans and Latinos are more likely to access the internet on their mobile devices than other populations (Smith, 2010). This means that we have the potential to close some of the education disparities by delivering learning through mobile devices. Again, it has to be properly designed for mobile platforms and meet the needs of learners. It also means, that if we only develop online learning that works on desktop computers, we run the risk of further increasing learning gaps in populations who primarily access the internet on mobile devices.

    Smith, A. (2010, September 17). “Technology trends among people of color.” Pew Internet and American Life Project. Retrieved April 15, 2011 from http://www.pewinternet.org/Commentary/2010/September/Technology-Trends-Among-People-of-Color.aspx


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