Re: OBTAINING THE RIGHT TRAINING| 27 November, 2000
Of course recognize off the top that I have a certain bias :-) - and the choices are somewhat limited if you are looking for off-the-shelf product.
There is also NO independent agency that I know of (i.e. an electronic training "Consumers Report") who officially rates products. I truly wish there was. Some industry associations could perform this role, but several associations are also producers of training products or services, so the objectivity can be lost .... IPC, for example, will not rate other products, since they produce their own.
On initial evaluation, look for real interactivity. This is what differentiates good multimedia training from the larger volume of what I call "videotape on a screen" - which is usually the result of taking existing video and just repackaging it to pretend it is interactive. If you could get the same effect with a videotape, a pause button, and a multiple choice test, it is not the real thing.
(When we did our ESD 2 course with Lucent, they wanted video as well as interactive. We actually designed the interactive first, and then went back, "rewound", and did the video afterwards. The result is quite different from developing in the "forward" direction!)
Some producing companies have one or another form of "try before you buy". If you have the time, I would use this approach. Bring the products in, check them out yourself, and be sure to run some trainees through. One approach is to run some comparative tests with equivalent groups of real trainees on competitive products. In setting up such a comparative test, realize that what trainees remember and apply is more important than what they know as measured by a test immediately after completion of the program.
John Hagan, the Quality Manager at Laser Drive Inc.provided us with a description of his process in testing the effectiveness of our products. He went the full classic pre-test, post-test, retention test route to measure the training effectiveness, which was very commendable and achieved his objectives.
But if you are already running flat out, you might have to depend on testimonials or advice from people already using material of this type. Of course you would not rely on only one opinion, and you would still want to know that the content depth and breadth of material was available and suited to your needs.
There is an advantage in using one vendor where feasible, since you want your employees to learn the content, not six different interfaces.