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First published February 10, 2002

The Government e-learning Summit 2002 was held in Singapore last week. The conference was organized by IQPC and was the first of its kind in this region. Speakers from the Australian Army, the Hong Kong Police, Correctional Services of Canada, Singapore Power, etc. spoke on their e-learning efforts. The following is our report on this conference.

Australian Army (Training Technology Center, Sydney)

Andre Greenberry, Commandant of the center, gave glimpses of e-learning products developed at the center. From our experience, even these glimpses would put many prime time e-learning content vendors to shame.

Solid instructional design principles are adhered to while developing content. So solid that Greenberry named the center's Instructional Design (ID) document "The ROCK". Some doctrines from The ROCK include age-old, but mostly forgotten, ID principles such as "use media only if it augments the learning process".

Case in point: Use of "talking heads".
Verdict: Can be done without!

Greenberry's Training Technology Center (TTC) has over 100 staff all over Australia responsible for designing and delivering instruction. Out of which 29 are responsible for multimedia development. To date TTC has developed 27 courses representing some 30gigs of softwareÑas most of their courses are hybrid with simulations being packed on CD's and support stuff on the web. The target for TTC is to redesign all of the Command's 750 courses, serving around 27,000 trainees, to be delivered via Distance Education Training (DET) and Technology Based Training (TBT).

Some takeaways from Greenberry's session:

Refresher mode:
When a trainee takes a course, he can choose from two options: 1) Train, or 2) Browse. A trainee takes the Train mode if he is taking the course for the first time or does not know the subject-matter. In this mode he is made to login and his progress is tracked.

If the trainee has already been through the course or knows the subject matter well, but just needs to find and learn specific information, he can use the Browse mode. In this mode he can directly access the relevant material and practice exercises. There is no login requirement or tracking of progress.

Hybrid approach:
Many times when we talk of a hybrid or blended approach we talk about one part being held online and one part being held off-line. With Greenberry's hybrid courses, the online part comes in a toolbox containing CD's, books, notebooks and some EPSS kind of stuff to help the trainee on the job (something on the lines of what Imparta does). The off-line is the usual classroom based approach that extends and builds upon the online component.

Andre Greenberry has been very helpful and given us exclusive access to his paper, Producing efficient and effective eLearning through adherence to instructional design principles (MS-Word, 50Kb).

Also, you might want to check out Internet.com's article on the Australian Army's TBT efforts.

The Hong Kong Police Force (Police Training School)

In their presentation titled "An Organisational Change Experience with e-Learning", Robin Jolly, Superintendent of Higher Training, and Andy Yip, Chief Inspector Visual Aids of the Hong Kong Police, described their experience with implementing IT assisted training in the Police Training School.

With a budget of US$ 300K to pilot a project to look into the feasibility of using CBT in training Hong KongÕs police force of 28,000, Robin and Andy went about looking for suitable hardware, software, courseware and the heartware. Theirs is a story of significant transformation in training of an organisation that is huge, monolithic, steeped in tradition and resistant to change.

During the pilot, they developed 13 CBT CD-ROMs that taught various aspects of police work from Attending Court to Collecting Evidence at the Scene of Crime. Among other implementation challenges, they had to put in place the required hardware for police officers to access these CD-ROMs. But most challenging of them all, they had to bring about a change in mindset on traditional notions of training and gain acceptance for this new mode of learning.

Since the start of the pilot in July 2000, their learning design has gone through several iterations and improvements. They compared examples of their early training packages that were mere page-turners to their more recent highly interactive and simulation-based packages incorporating QuickTime VR that lets learners inspect a scene of crime and gather evidence. They also explained how the blended approach – a combination of CBT (knowledge), classroom (attitude/sharing) and on-the-job training (skills) worked for them.

They agreed to share the paper with us once it was cleared by their department. So we waited...and waited...and waited...

Centrelink Virtual College, Australia

Deborah Harrison, Deputy Dean of Centrelink Virtual College presented the case of hosting a satellite interactive distance-learning platform.

Centrelink implements policies and provides services on behalf of Australian Government departments to 6.3 million customers Australia-wide. With 24,000 employees and over 1,000 customer service locations, many in remote and rural areas of Australia, Centrelink is the third largest public sector employer in Australia.

When the Virtual College started looking for delivery platforms over 3 years ago with the objective of providing uniform, high quality and cost effective technical training to all its employees regardless of their location, they had four options:

  1. Remain with traditional learning methods
  2. Implement on-line learning
  3. Outsource interactive distance learning
  4. Host their own interactive distance learning platform

Deborah described at length about the eventual choice of hosting their own distance learning through satellite and interactive keypads.

The following are some takeaways from her session:

Her article, Hosting a Satellite Interactive Distance Learning Platform, describes the project in more detail.

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