Academic journal article Journal of Technology Studies

Attitudes toward Computer-Mediated Distance Training

Academic journal article Journal of Technology Studies

Attitudes toward Computer-Mediated Distance Training

Article excerpt

Industry is demanding quality and relevant training, and is seeking new and more efficient ways to distribute training to its workers (VanBuren & Erskine, 2002). Many training programs require trainees to travel to the training location, with industry assuming much of the cost of room and board as well as transportation (Goldstein, 1997; Kasten, 1998). Training distributed at a distance can allow industry-training programs to reach more people while allowing the industry to save time and money. This study explored the attitudes of participants receiving training in industry through a means of computer-mediated distance training known as audiographics. Audiographics combines the use of voice transmission, computer networking, graphics, and data transmission through narrow-band telecommunications channels (Bradshaw & Desser, 1990; Summers, 1998).

The integration of distance education technologies provides a perfect forum for delivering training to industry. "Smart use of new training technologies will ensure that we continue to provide effective, high quality instruction and skills training while keeping costs down" (Pendaranda, 1995, p. 11). Computer-mediated distance delivery of training can allow professionals the training necessary to stay up-to-date in this everchanging technical society without the expense of time, personal well-being, and money for travel to training locations.

According to VanBuren and Erskine (2002), total training expenditures in U.S. companies increased in 2000 and 2001 despite the slowing of economic growth and recession. Additionally, the majority of U.S. companies expect their training expenditures to increase rather than decrease in 2002. Furthermore, the use of outside training providers such as private consultants and educational institutions will increase (VanBuren & Erskine, 2002). Corporations can utilize distance education technology to distribute cost-effective and quality training to their employees. Because there is a need for constant upgrading and retraining knowledgeable employees (Kiplinger & Kiplinger, 1996), business will increase its role in education and training (VanBuren & Erskine, 2002). Therefore, as the cost of training continues to rise, industry will require more cost effective ways to deliver instruction.

Distance Education and Distance Training

Forms of communication such as audio-, video-, and computer-conferencing have helped to make distance learning sophisticated, exciting, and efficient for the distance learner who is not actually in the physical presence of his or her trainer while learning. With these forms of communication the learner can be in the next building, at home, or in a place located hundreds of miles away (Duguet, 1995) and still access the training.

What is the difference between distance education and distance training? Devlin (1993) described the difference between distance education and distance training as follows: Distance education is typically student centered. Learners are encouraged and facilitated to pursue their own needs and preferences within the subject matter under study. Much of the literature defines distance education as learning that takes place when time and space separate student and teacher. Distance education is defined by the National Center for Education Statistics (1998) as "education or training courses delivered to remote (off-campus) locations via audio, video, or computer technologies" (p. 1). Correspondence courses are an example of distance education that has been available for many years.

Distance training, conversely, is driven and controlled principally by the needs of the organization. These needs, expressed simply, are to have effective, generally task-oriented skills acquired by trainees in the most costefficient manner possible. The role of defining the student's learning and competence needs is assumed by the organization (Devlin, 1993). Training involves a narrow focus aimed at specific skills and competencies. …

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