The Virtual Classroom

A learning environment that uses special collaboration software to enable multiple remote learners, using their PCs or laptops, to participate in live audio and visual discussions, communicates via written text, and learns via content such as Power Point slides.

Conventional Web based learning tends to be limited to the sorts of online learning with which many college students are already familiar – reading Power Point presentations, participating in instant message type chat rooms, and taking online exams, for instance.

The virtual classroom takes online learning to a new level. A virtual classroom uses special collaboration software to enable multiple remote learners, using their PCs or laptops, to participate in live audio visual discussions, communicate via written text, and learn via content such as Power Point slides.

The virtual classroom combines the best of Web based learning offered by systems like Blackboard and WebCT, with live video and audio. For example, Elluminate Inc makes one popular virtual classroom system, Elluminate live! It enables learners to communicate with clear, two, way audio build communities with user profiles and live video, collaborates with chat and shared white boards, and learns with shared applications such as Power Point slides.

Using E-learning:

There are several ways to improve e-based learning. The manager needs to consider that trainees to be slower taking online exams than they are paper and pencil ones. This is because Web test pages tend to have fewer questions, in larger font, than do paper quizzes; and because going back and reviewing answers tends to take longer online . It’s also important to make sure that the trainee can actually use the extra control that Web based learning should provide. For example a Web based course may give learners the opportunity to choose the content they’ll focus on, and its sequence and pacing. Therefore, make sure trainees know the control they have, and how they can use it, such as how to change the leaning sequence.

In practice, it’s usually not a choice of conventional versus online e-training. The trend is toward blended learning solutions. For example, Intuit (which makes accounting software such as Turbo Tax and QuickBooks) uses instructor led classroom training for bringing in new distributors and getting them up to speed. Then, they use their virtual classroom systems to provide additional training for monthly meetings with distributors and for short classes on special software features.

MP3 / Instant Messaging: Some employers including J P Morgan, encourage employees to use instant messaging as quick learning device. Figure below illustrates a sample IM learning incident. Capital One recently purchased 3000 iPods for trainees. The training departments then had an Internet audio book provider create an audio leaning site within capital One’s firewall. Employees used it to download training materials to their iPods.

Figure IM learning Incident:

Employee1: do you know how to undo split screen?
Employee1: on excel?
Employee2: yup
Employee1: how?
Employee2: go sec
Employee 2: ok highlight the column or row where the split is
Employee2: go into Window
Employee2: click freeze panes
Employee2: that should do it
Employee1: thanks!
Employee2:no prob

Improving Productivity through HRIS: Learning Portals

Many firms’ employee business portals: Through this business portal, a firm’s employees – secretaries, engineers, salespeople, and so on can get the tools you need to analyze data inside and outside your company and see the customized content you need like industry news and competitive data.

Employers increasingly convey their employee training through learning portals. ‘Learning portal’ suppliers such as contract with employers to deliver online training courses to the firm’s employees. They usually maintain the employers’ learning portals on their own servers which employees reach by clicking on their own firms’ business portal training links. Skill soft calls its portals Knowledge Centers. Some target specific industries with relevant offerings. Other firms create special courses for a firm’s employees and customers. The US Post office instituted one such system. It contracted a supplier to use the latter’s learning management system (LMS) to expand the Postal Service’s leaning activities. The LMS gives employees access to state of the art training, and lets the Postal services managers monitor their organization’s training progress.

The movement today is toward integrating the e-learning system with the company’s all, enterprise information systems. In that way, for instance employers can more easily synchronize employees training with their performance appraisal, skills inventory, and succession plans.