<p>Froehlich’s approach is what the industry sees happening more and more, using technology to supplement the interaction that’s required for many types of learning. A PowerPoint slide delivered over the Internet is just that, a PowerPoint slide, and it can’t replace human interaction, but the art of Internet training is growing and changing. In fact, the delivery and product are both improving, observes Chris Christenson, manager of core processor for Symitar’s Education and Technical Publications Department. “Early on, remote training was pretty much done by techies. Educationally, it was not particularly sound,” he says. “Now you’ve got instructional designers involved, and educational psychologists, so there’s a good standard look to the interface and the material is sound,” Christenson says. Symitar has partnered with WebEx to create training packages that for vendors like Symitar, are typically used when a CU is converting or upgrading its systems. The training supplements the use of in-person classes, which can involve quite a commitment of time and money. “At one recent conversion, we ended up doing a total of almost 700 separate classes,” Christenson says. “Probably 400 of them were pretty basic, fundamental classes that could more efficiently be delivered remotely. “So what we’re working right now on revising our curricula to make it more effective and cost-effective for us and the client to do some kind of remote or Internet training for the basics.” They’re not alone. Internet-delivered training, and its cousin, computer-based training usually delivered on CD-ROM or DVD, are growing rapidly in popularity, if for no other reason, their sheer ability to deliver information cheaply and efficiently across time and space. But there are limitations. There are long development times and large expenses involved in creating such training products, Christenson notes, and they can’t be expected to completely replace one-on-one learning. The problem, of course, is that static slide shows, whether they’re in a computer on a desk or fed over the Internet, don’t replicate the give-and-take of a classroom, and such training also works better in some contexts than in others, says one major provider of online training. “Some topics, like sales skills and coaching, seem better suited to face-to-face, because they involve behaviors and attitudes, while product knowledge might be better suited to e-learning, because they primarily involve information transfer and cognitive understanding,” says Gerry Singleton, business development manager in CUNA Mutual’s Southeast Marketing Division in Atlanta. Singleton adds that combining online and in-person training produces the best results. “An example of this blended learning would be having branch managers take a brief online course on the benefits of caching and engage in a brief online chat with other branch managers on the challenges they face,” he says. “Then, in a face-to-face setting, they could apply this knowledge they could apply this knowledge in skill practice and action planning.” Indeed, it’s generally agreed that remote learning can’t really replicate one-on-one or in-person classroom training. “Online training should complement other forms of training – not replace them,” says Jason Boles, executive vice president of credit union consultant Counter Intelligence Associates. And not just because the learning itself may not be as complete or effective. “There is still a need for the manager or other coach to hold the employees accountable for their learning,” Boles says. “It’s too easy to throw somebody in front of a computer and expect them to transfer their newfound knowledge to the job,” he says. “There is still a real need for the employee’s supervisor to manage the transfer of learning to the job.” That said, Boles acknowledges that the online environment does lend itself to accountability measures. “With the proper online learning tool, credit unions can track employees’ training well,” he says. “Not only can they track what topics the employee has taken, but their testing results as well. “This is valuable information for performance appraisals and job-based training plans.”</p>

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