Analyst says online training shouldn't go by the book

Analyst says online training shouldn't go by the book

By Kevin McCaney

GCN Staff

APRIL 23—For online training to be effective, agencies need to take their courses beyond textbook presentations to programs that simulate the workplace, said Leslye McDade-Morrison, who recently surveyed educators and training officials within the Defense Department.

'Many Web courses have [Hypertext Markup Language] text,' she said. 'That's not a course, that's a Web site.'

McDade-Morrison, an education program analyst with the Office of the DOD Chancellor for Education and Professional Development, surveyed 271 military and civilian officials in the department. She spoke last week at the E-Learning Conference and Expo in Washington.

Text-heavy courses that conclude with multiple-choice tests are the least expensive and easiest to administer, she said, but also the least effective. 'How many of you have multiple-choice questions on your job?' she asked. Such courses promote short-term memorization but fail to teach job skills, she said.

Some Defense programs already make good use of simulation software, video and practical scenarios. In an earlier session at the conference, for example, Col. Christopher Olson of the Army Distance Learning Program at Fort Monroe, Va., gave a brief demonstration of the Armor Captain's Career Course, which simulates operations inside a tank.

McDade-Morrison acknowledged that simulated courses are more expensive-and often require CD-ROM distribution until broadband access is more widespread-but choosing the least expensive online training would likely result in having to offer retraining down the road.

'You can pay now, or you can pay later,' she said.

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