Example 1: Collaborative Training Environment
A new automated staff information system was recently purchased by a major corporation and needs to be implemented in six regional offices. Unfortunately, the staff is located throughout all the different offices and cannot meet at the same time or in the same location. As an instructional designer for the corporation, you have been charged with implementing a training workshop for these offices. As part of the training, you were advised how imperative it is that the staff members share information, in the form of screen captures and documents, and participate in ongoing collaboration.
I selected this scenario because it most closely resembles situations that I may encounter at work, and researching this example would provide valuable tools for on the job application.
The challenge is that the employees involved in the implementation must collaborate despite being separated by distance and time.
To determine the best technology to use, the outcome of the learning should be examined. The outcome of this training is the successful implementation of the new staff information system across several locations. In other words, it is a “precise behavior to be demonstrated”(Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2009, pp115), with the behavior being the implementation of the software. Hence, the instructor and students must have a visual of the software during the training, as well as a means to identify how it interacts with the user and other systems. Since the employees cannot collaborate or train simultaneously, the solution must work asynchronously. With these limitations in mind, I selected the following technologies for this solution –
Initial training – webinar technology supplied by Webex (webex.com)
Method to collaborate and comment on screenshots – Google Docs (google.com)
An additional software solution required for this implementation is Camtasia (techsmith.com). Although it is not strictly a distance learning tool, it does support and facilitate distance learning.
Technology Selection and rationale
Initial training – webinar by Webex
Webex is a commercial vendor of a “web conferencing software” (Laureate Inc., n.d.). This offers one-way video, and two-way audio is possible if the participants wish to communicate with the presenter. I chose Webex because I am familiar with its capabilities from using at work. With this software, the demonstration can be recorded and powerpoint presentations with embedded multimedia content can be included. Remote staff may attend the live demonstrations, or can view a recorded presentation at their convenience.
Screencapture – Camtasia (techsmith.com)
A requisite to any form of software training is the ability to show screenshots of the actual software. Screen capture software, such as Camtasia, is an excellent resource to record the on screen interaction with the software. Static screen captures can also be taken using the simple Alt-PrtSc button combination and pasting into a document. This recording is saved as a movie and can then be embedded in the powerpoint presentation used during the webex conference.
Collaboration by sharing screencaptures and documents – Google docs
Finally, for asynchronous collaboration and sharing of screens and documents I suggest using googledocs. Employees will capture screen interactions and static images with Camtasia. They will insert these videos and graphics into a google doc presentation and also create google documents. After sharing these items, the rest of the group will be able to collaborate and view the files. Since the files are kept on Google’s server, the employees will be able to access it wherever they have an Internet connection whenever it is convenient. In this way, each employee can view the screencaps and comments from their peers and continue the conversation.
In the table below, I compare the features of my selected technologies to some of Chickering and Ehrmann’s (1996) criteria listed for successful distance learning.
|Encourage contact between students and faculty.||Yes. The initial training webinar will allow those attending to call in to talk to the instructor and chat electronically with the instructor and other students.|
|Develop reciprocity and cooperation among students.||Yes. By commenting on slideshows and documents made by colleagues, participants can “ promote collaboration through peer-to-peer mentoring, teamwork, and other strategies” (Beldarrain, 2006, pp 145)|
|Use active learning techniques||Yes. Active learning refers to methods where the student does more than listen to a lecture (McKinney, 2011). When the employees create their own screencasts to collaborate with peers, they are actively learning how to implement the software.|
|Give prompt feedback||Yes. Participants can call in or chat electronically during the webinar.||Yes, collaborators can view edits to the presentation immediately and comments can be shared quickly also.|
Examples of Successful Applications Of Technologies
Webex – Fidelity success story, http://www.webex.com/pdf/casestudy_fidelity.pdf
When Fidelity’s training group was reduced from 26 to 5 trainers, an online training solution became imperative due to lack of resources to support F2F instruction. They leveraged the delivery bandwidth of WebEx with the content organization and storage of their own LCMS by integrated the WebEx Training Center and their LCMS. Eventually, video, graphics, and polling were added to create a more blended style learning module. Resseau, the Manager of Learning Technology at Fidelity, was careful to provide all stakeholders – from managers to new employees – with adequate training and introduction on this new technology so that the learning curve of this solution did not interfere with the delivery of the content. Employees appreciated the ability to ask questions during the presentation via the electronic chat without interrupting the session.
The benefits of the implementation were seen financially (ROI increased from $20,000 at initial implementation to $350,000 for the most recent program) and also increased collaboration to resolve issues between employees (WebEx, 2005).
Webex was adopted by Colchester Institute in 2008, where this technology has “enabled online classes with break-out sessions, voting, testing and application” (JISC, 2008). Colchester Institute provides higher education and training in North Essex, U.K. to over 10,500 students, some of whom live far away from campus and are unable to attend live classes. Once distance learning was decided upon to bridge the gap for students who could not travel to class, the following requirements were created (JISC, 2008):
• Enable remote application sharing
• Allow video-conferencing
• Schedule meetings
WebEx was selected because of its many features such as polling, testing, hands-on labs, and breakout sessions. Of course, it also facilitates online meetings.
The use of WebEx has allowed the Institute to offer more online courses. It has homogenized cross campus interaction since all organizations now use the same tool – WebEx – to collaborate and share. Distance learners who “need to receive a live demonstration of the use of software applications” (JISC, 2008) appreciate the on demand training available using this technology. Finally, the savings in cost and time due to the lack of need to travel from place to place to interact, is also seen as a success of the WebEx implementation.
Google Docs – http://www.google.com/educators/p_docs.html
Google Docs was implemented in the Acalanes Union High School District to expand “collaborative learning” (Davis, 2007) and provide a means to disseminate PowerPoint projects to a much larger group. Students in AP English and psychology were given specific functions to perform with Google docs in order to share their work. In English, students used Google Docs as peer review tools, while in psychology, students used the solution to share their research papers with fellow classmates. Additionally, “(T)eachers are able to individually assess student participation and content using the revision tab on Google Docs to see how editing is proceeding and to encourage students as they work.” (Davis, 2007).
Google docs – http://www.edtechvision.org
In Beaverton, Oregon, Colette Cassinelli used the collaborative feature of Google Docs to keep her content relevant and students engaged. Cassinelli asked each student in her to upload their presentation and share it with the class. According to Cassinelli, for the first time ever, 100% of the students engaged in the presentation and discussed it with their peers.
Beldarrain, Y. (2006). Distance education trends: Integrating new technologies to foster student interaction and collaboration. Distance Education, 27(2),139–153.
Cassinelli, (n.d.). Resources for teachers. Retrieved from http://www.google.com/educators/p_docs.html
Chickering, A., & Ehrmann, S. E. (1996, October). Implementing the seven principles: Technology
as lever [Electronic version]. American Association for Higher Education, 3–6. Retrieved
Davis, C. (2007). Teachers speak out. Retrieved from http://www.google.com/educators/p_docs.html
JISC. (2008). Colchester Institute: WebEx-cellent distance learning. Retrieved from http://www.excellencegateway.org.uk/page.aspx?o=167800
McKinney, K. (2011). Active learning. Retrieved from http://www.cat.ilstu.edu/additional/tips/newactive.php
WebEx Communications (2005). Fidelity’s training department saves $350,000 on one program
with WebEx Training Center. Retrieved from http://www.webex.com/pdf/casestudy_fidelity.pdf