It’s a sad fact that 80% of eLearning is probably going to be levels 1 & 2 for some time to come. How many times do we hear from the SME “Why can’t you just take my powerpoint and put it online?”
Let’s face it, sometimes it is hard enough sometimes justifying any of our development work, so where do we even start when we want to include animations based on 3D environments?
I did some consultancy for a German manufacturing company recently, that exports an innovative product worldwide. Understanding how a business works is important to see the full problem. There are ‘Layers’ of training.
a. Impressing audiences (and potential customers) at industry fairs: Most companies that sell attend industry events where potential buyers wander round looking at where the industry is. These are very high-value events. Having a stand is expensive, the potential sales are huge. This is where they can break out the VR headsets, and show the best the company has to offer.
b. Supporting their sales force: Ok, VR headsets do take some setting up, they need super powerful graphics cards and they are not everyone’s cup of tea. The sales force representatives need a set of great presentations that show the product in its best light. This is a lesson I learned working with Volvo – the people who produce this work are our friends. They often have huge budgets compared to the eLearning department, in essence, the same mission – to educate people about the quality and benefits of the product.
c. Teaching the sales force / technicians: The next level down comes when the product construction becomes important. The sales force need the detail to answer customer questions, the technical team need the details to know how to service or repair the machine.
d. The Customer User Training: Last, but by no means least, we need to train the customer on how the product should actually be used in daily work to get the best out of it.
Take a look again, and consider the eLearning team. In a lot of cases, the eLearning team are given d. to do. That is their job. c. Can be taken care of by the trainers, who are already designing their classrooms in rooms full of spanners and screwdrivers and computer user consoles. As for a and b, well, they are marketing’s job – what does eLearning have to do with sales?
Now look again – because you’re missing something. All the data and modelling for the nifty graphics in a 3D environment is already there – the people who made the marketing have made the nifty graphics – the 3D modelling has been done. And once you have the 3D model, you can create VR scenarios out of it in exactly the same way as shooting an animated scene – the camera changes but the model is the same.
Now look down – consider using the same high quality film and environment to help the sales force and technical team learn what is going on inside the machine. Not just film – it needs to be backed up with solid exercises and tests and practices and procedures as with any learning – but now instead of creating these expensive film segments for the eLearning, they are actually fall-out from the marketing drive. The whole set of courses fit together and follow the same branding and ‘look and feel’ because they use the same elements.
And last of all, the end customers, the users, the people who will be affected by the product every day – who wouldn’t want to give them the best experience – well, their training can be made fun, interactive.. the do something and Zoom! The camera whizzes inside the machine and sees the cogs and wheels at work before whoosh! The machine delivers what it was asked for.. And the eLearning department doesn’t need to petition to have its budget tripled to make the little filler animations that add this super touch of quality to the user training.. no.. because they use the same models that were created for the rest of the set. And even that is getting cheaper. It’s how we use it. One day all eLearning may be of the boom bang whizz variety, but not for a while. And it’s how we get to there from here that we need to be thinking about…