Through the lens of my corporate training development role, I have found significant relevance and some conflict between my experiences and the developing educational technologies discussed in Weller’s book. In this blog post, I will discuss the relevance and application of video technologies in corporate training and some conflict I found in the discussion surrounding e-learning and cost savings. For context, I am the Training Development Manager for a transportation corporation that operates four separate lines of business, each with its own in-house training department. I provide support for the development of online learning specifically.
The use of video in corporate training goes back many years, as you can see in this 1960’s era training video or this video produced by my company well over a decade ago. Videos have been an effective way to present information to learners in corporate training programs however prior to the evolution of personal recording devices and streaming services such as YouTube, their use was limited due to the expense and intensive work effort required to produce. These developments have mitigated the high cost of producing videos and made them a viable solution for training departments to use more often. Professional video productions took a long time to develop and quickly became outdated making them difficult to keep current and effective. Now, with the availability of publicly shared videos on YouTube, a video produced by a Manufacturer demonstrating a task such as using a certain wheelchair securement system can be embedded in e-learning or presented in a facilitated training course. When a company-specific training need is identified, trainers can use their smartphones to record videos. For example, our student transportation business line recently changed their school bus backing procedure and was able to promptly record a video of the new procedure to easily share with drivers. Using a smartphone, video quality may not be as impressive as what is produced by professional videographers however if presented appropriately, it can effectively support meeting the desired learning outcomes.
Weller (2020) states, “The arrival of e-learning, then, did not present a drastic reduction in the costs of higher education…” (p.47) In my experience, e-learning has provided drastic cost reduction in certain corporate training contexts. I will not claim that it always will, or always has but when used appropriately, it can. There are several reasons for corporate training needs including skills development, policy awareness, and compliance training. Some industries have heavily regulated training requirements, such as my previous experience in the oil and gas industry, and this creates high training costs. Employees are compensated for attending training, travel, meals, hotels, and then there are course material, venue, and instructor costs as well. In my experience, travel cost for employees and instructors has been a significant cost factor that is directly mitigated by e-learning. Also, those training costs are amplified by the high employee turnover rates in my previous and current industries.
With the arrival of e-learning, and even more impactful a few years later, the arrival of user-friendly e-learning development software, it has been my experience that in-house e-learning development has proven to have positive Return on Investment (ROI). If this was not the case I do not think I would have been gainfully employed for the past 8 years providing this service. However, a company has many factors to consider such as number of employees, specific training needs, and learner demographics to determine when e-learning is the best solution. I will not claim that e-learning should be considered the ‘end all be all’ for corporate training but it does have its benefits and cost is one of them. It is important that responsible assessment and analysis is carried out to ensure that e-learning is being used only when the content is suitable to an e-learning format. The potential cost savings of e-learning can be lost if courses are being created that are not effectively meeting the intended outcomes or training departments are not being conservative or realistic with production work effort and budgets.
Weller, M. (2020). 25 Years of Ed Tech. Athabasca University Press.