The world's moved on from those trite, seventies-style role-plays we all remember too well. Training today consists of real-world situations and believable characters. When the training involves health and safety, FSA or some similar legal compliance then documentation becomes all-important. Configurative training systems can include powerful tracking and recording to give you the solid evidence you need.
It's all very well giving your audience the chance to click a few buttons, but there needs to be some point to it all. And there are plenty of options beyond straightforward multiple choice questions. Our interactivity often includes drag-and-drop problems, business simulations or other activities. Multimedia doesn't provide an educational panacea, but it can open up all sorts of opportunities for lasting improvements in understanding and in applying what's been learned to the real world.
It's all down to first-class educational content, and no amount of technology can cover for its absence. But with your knowledge of your own field and our experience of putting it all across we should be able to tick all the necessary boxes.
When you're delivering training in a classroom environment, the quality of your visual aids becomes crucial to audience understanding. Bullet points just don't do the job. We all know how many words a picture's worth, but how much higher is the value of a really good animation? And what could you achieve with visual aids that actually react to your audience's responses? The opportunities to be creative are endless, from training that captures and records audience responses to integrated live video.
Sitting a pupil or trainee in front of a screen and allowing them to train themselves has obvious manpower advantages, but it's no use if the learning outcome is compromised. We often create systems with virtual trainers: real people who react intelligently to the user's input.
It's far too easy to resort to obvious measures like multiple choice. While that has its place, it's worth taking the time to join us for a few brainstorming sessions. In the case of Interactive Music School, those sessions led to us creating a qualitative music analysis system that not only captured the pupil's performance, but actually analysed elements like touch, timing and accuracy.
We're not prescriptive about how training and educational multimedia should be delivered. Recent projects have been delivered on DVD (for DVD player or computer-based playback), on CD, memory stick or via the client's network. All approaches have their merits, drawbacks and so they're relevant for different applications.
Advantages: There's a DVD player in just about every home, so this is an ideal format for applications expected to be viewed at home. The vast majority of computers can also play video DVDs too, so it's pretty certain that your production can be viewed under most circumstances.
Disadvantages: Video DVD has a slow response time to user input, and there's limited scope for interactivity. It's not possible to record progress or track users. Updates are relatively complex.
Advantages: Computers are accessible to just about everyone nowadays. Microsoft has set a virtually universal standard with the Windows platform, so it's easy to produce applications that are available everywhere. We can also deliver our applications for Apple Macintosh, or provide dual-format systems that work under either operating system.
Interactivity is far more extensive than player-based DVD, and there's effectively unlimited scope for user activities. We can capture, record and analyse the users' operations and provide automatic documentation for legal or CPD purposes.
Updates are relatively simple and can be carried out remotely via the Internet. We can provide systems that allow the client to make customised courses and lessons.
Disadvantages: Computer DVD won't operate on most home DVD players. Video playback quality may not be as good as video DVD.
Advantages: CD-ROM carries all of the same advantages as Computer DVD. In most cases its response time is also slightly faster. As a result it may be possible to improve on video quality.
Disadvantages: As for Computer DVD, plus much smaller capacity.
Advantages: Memory sticks are a great give-away. It's easy and cheap to get a number printed with your logo and copying files to them is a few seconds's work. This makes them ideal for material that needs to change frequently. Data transfer is usually faster than DVD or CD, so video quality can be improved. Trainees can be given their own individual stick which then records their performance and activities, making the training course transportable between computers.
Disadvantages: The sticks are more expensive than CD or DVD.
Advantages: Storage is effectively unlimited and updates can be instant. Central training records can be maintained and league tables created (though this can also be achieved via other media).