<p>One way technology is combining the human element with the strengths of the Internet are “webinars” – which typically involve a meeting room, a PC and a projector, along with someone at the other end making the presentation as if it were a live remote on television, only with some live chat interactivity available. Such techniques are supplementing the ubiquitous use of static PowerPoint slides in the online classroom, but that takes a lot of bandwidth, the pipelines that actually move data around the country and the world. New technologies that offer expanded bandwidth are promised in the next few years, and like most technologies, the cost could be expected to fall while capabilities expand. “Assuming that technology continues to advance as it has, I think we’ll see drastic increases in the use of this and other technology solutions in training credit union staff,” Singleton of CUNA Mutual says of online training. “While it won’t completely eliminate the role or importance of face-to-face training, Internet-based training will be a major channel for employee development. “I think the main areas of focus will be product and industry knowledge, basic sales training, compliance and new-employee orientation.” Helping that growth along will be emerging standards, says Christenson of Symitar. “There’s competition out there,” he says. “But we see the major players working together to create a common terminology.” Among other things, Christenson says that will create a standard look and feel from an educational point of view. And just as the technology advances, so should the interest in using online training, observers say. “I think the overall romance with online learning will continue to grow, but credit unions will start to realize that online training will not replace traditional one-on-one, or instructor-led, delivery,” says Boles at Counter Intelligence. “There are some topics that simply need more traditional training delivery, such as sales-and-service skills and security,” Boles says. “Topics like these tend to be best delivered by a real person.” While it can’t replace the personal touch, online training definitely has a bright future, both because of what it offers credit unions in return on their investments and to employees for their personal growth. “I would say we’ll definitely be using it more in the future,” says Froehlich at MECU-West. “I see nothing but success coming out of it. “I can see it getting to the point where each of our staff members can have an individual career path for which we can provide online training resources to help them reach their goals.” – [email protected]</p>

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