It almost goes without saying: on-the-job training is an essential step in creating a workforce capable of performing complex tasks and meeting regulatory compliance.
Each year, companies of all sizes expend hundreds of thousands of dollars on training their workforce. On average, US companies spent $986 per employee on training in 2018, according to training industry data. Small companies spent 61.2 hours in training time per employee. It’s a big investment.
Unless your training is well-designed, however, the process can be time-consuming and expensive – and in some cases, still less effective than it needs to be. Getting a new hire up to speed on procedures can take your more experienced workers away from production as they show a trainee the ropes.
For that reason alone, custom online courses and eLearning programs are indispensable when it comes to training new hires. The benefits of eLearning courses are well documented: adult learners can focus only on knowledge relevant to professional development, work at their own pace, and their progress can be measured by employers through module-based assessments.
Until now, one limitation of traditional eLearning has been a disconnect between the courses, taken on a computer, and the physical workplace itself. For certain types of subject matter, the natural context is a critical factor in how well lessons are truly understood by the learner.
Now, High-Res eLearning, a new approach in the world of digital learning, will enable employers to overcome this contextual limitation in workforce training.
Teachers and online course developers have long understood the power of visual learning. Photography, graphics, and interactive activities are all tools that help a learner visualize, focus, and better retain memories of the knowledge they take in. Even in necessarily word-heavy content areas, visual aids provide for variety in presentations and can help with content retention.
High-Res eLearning, with the help of a patented and proprietary software developed by Klixel8, represents a new way of interacting with images in training courses.
This new learning technology is different in the way it utilizes high-resolution digital photography to maintain contextual relationships between component parts of a workstation, process, or job. The extremely high-res photography – up to 225 mega-pixels, with no blurring or pixelation – of an entire scene helps the brain “anchor” specific learning concepts to their fuller context in the learner’s memory.
Imagine you’re training a new hire on an industrial machine. The control panel contains gauges, buttons, mechanical levers, and even some digital components. Each section of the controls will require instructions in an eLearning module. Yet in order to truly explain the purpose of the individual controls and indicators, they must be presented in context of one another – and in context of the machine, its place in the shop floor, and in relation to its operator. How can this be accomplished?
High-Res eLearning allows a learner to take in all of these levels of context through a single image. This is because the learner can pan and zoom in at great depths on the machine, accessing content and quizzes about its constituent parts, without ever leaving the scene as a whole. High quality images serve as an immersive learning experience and help the mind anchor knowledge through contextualization.
The need for contextualized visual learning extends well beyond our industrial manufacturing example. From medical facilities and dental clinics to auto repair garages, to the inside of aircraft and agricultural equipment, new employees must master highly complex machines, techniques and procedures.
Many suitable eLearning options exist for professional development, especially in computer software or “soft skills” like communication and management. Yet when it comes to training new hires on how to complete tasks or comply with safety regulations in physical spaces, most companies rely on their more experienced workers for training, or hire costly outside experts to provide training.
High-Res eLearning is perfect for “hard skills” training on specific procedural tasks. There are a number of reasons why:
First, a learner working through a module can zoom and pan to inspect individual items in a photograph, with no loss of resolution. This means much more exploration, both structured within the module and unstructured for self-learning.
Such exploratory freedom enhances learning at the neural level of cognition: with more self-direction, learning is less dependent upon restricted neural pathways.
Curiosity is one of the most important drivers of knowledge acquisition, from our earliest learning experiences in play and discovery of objects. Wanting to learn about something is one of the keys to unlocking a student’s potential.
For this reason, self-directed immersion in a high-resolution photo helps make learning more fun, relatable, and personal.
Individual items within a High-Res eLearning photo are marked by “hotspots” that can be as small as a few pixels across. This allows a single button on a machine to be clickable, drawing in explanations and rich context without leaving the visual scene.
In effect, hotspots enable contextual learning without paging through multiple screens of individual machine components. For certain industry applications, learning designers and developers now have a new, powerful tool to enhance learning in the digital world.
As you can imagine, the level of human-computer interaction in a High-Res eLearning environment is much higher than in traditional eLearning. The customized modules are goal- and milestone-oriented, based on a worker’s own individual needs and knowledge gaps.
Because a High-Res eLearning module is built in HTML5, it can be viewed on a standard computer screen, tablet, or even a smartphone. In other words, no special equipment is needed for the technology, so learners can make progress on their training anywhere.
By working at their own pace, on their own schedules, employees maximize how learning takes place during the orientation period of the first few weeks – without taking your most experienced workers away from their own work.
In short, the immersive training environment provided by High-Res eLearning offers the potential to save man-hours lost in training, and gets new employees up to speed more quickly. The cost-savings are obvious.
It’s well worth the effort to produce custom course material, because it can be used for training future employees and developed into a comprehensive eLearning program for your entire workforce.
The virtual learning environment is an ideal format for training a workforce on potential hazards, screening for quality standards, and taking tests on particular workstations and equipment. The possibilities are endless.
Learners may click on hotspots within an image to take quizzes, watch videos with more details, or refer to manuals and websites on specific tools.
Behind the interactive photographic presentation, Klixel8 has developed powerful analytic tools to measure the engagement level of learners as they progress through the modules. Data is collected to generate heat maps, charts, and scatter plots that help you visualize the success of your training program.
We learn in context. High-Res eLearning utilizes a mental process of cognition called “item-context binding” to enhance memory in learning.
What this means is that images and spatial relations help new knowledge “stick” better in the memory after the lesson is done.
People learn about an item in its context, and often remember something by where it belongs in a scene. If you’ve ever misplaced your glasses or keys around the house, for example, you probably remembered where you left them by “walking through a mental picture” of which room you were in and what you were doing at the time you last saw them.
That scene is a “memory anchor” resulting from item-context binding, with high-level associations in a part of the brain called the hippocampus.
The human mind is primed for visual data, and people process visual information so quickly we aren’t even conscious of it. In academic settings, up to two-thirds of students are what researchers define as visual and spatial learners. That doesn’t mean these students can’t learn without imagery, but it does mean their learning is highly augmented by visual complements to written or verbal lessons.
Good visuals improve the retention of knowledge, with less of a burden on memory recall. Visualizations and contextually rich images effectively speed up the absorption of knowledge; the memory anchor provided by an image reduces the “cognitive load” on a learner.
Some learners are tactile, or “kinesthetic” learners. They learn better when engaged in a hands-on activity like a lab experiment or art project. With traditional eLearning, these physical learners may get less out of training that consists of clicking through screens and reading blocks of text.
The context provided in a High-Res eLearning photo, in contrast, provides a spatial environment that engages kinesthetic learning. The act of zooming and panning, in particular, is deeply engaging.
Tactile learners can take as long as they like to examine an item, zoom out and move around a setting, and see how items relate to the scene as a whole. The learning experience is similar to that attained with a virtual reality headset, without the need for VR hardware.
The Klixel8 eLearning team has learning designers and technical developers experienced in developing High-Res eLearning applications. To learn more or view a live demonstration, contact Klixel8 at https://klixel8.com/#live-demo or toll free at (833) KLIXEL8 (833.554.9358).