Air Transport World

'Virtual Work': interactive multimedia allows airlines to cut CBT course time and upgrade learning with 'real world' environments.(computer-based training)

Interactive multimedia allows airlines to cut CBT course time and upgrade learning with 'real world' environments

Interactive multimedia, the technology that embellishes CD-ROM computer games with video and sound, and allows players to click their way around imaginary worlds, is invading the airline training arena at an accelerating pace as profitability begins to free funding for capital investments.

Also emerging are "virtual workplace" simulations that create nearreal-world environments on desktop computers or low-cost trainers to teach skills such as maintenance troubleshooting or mastery of complex flight management systems. And not too far in the future is "distance learning"--delivery of training to airline bases around the world via satellite links or the Internet.

All of which is a far cry from the dark ages of three or four years ago, when computer-based training largely meant calling up text on a proprietary workstation and visuals from a laser-disk player to supplement classroom instruction. That. legacy CBT courseware still dominates but manufacturers such as Airbus and Boeing, airlines such as American and Singapore, and suppliers TRO and Wicat are shifting rapidly to true multimedia.

And they say quality CBT can produce significant financial returns. Dr. Bob Blaylock, director of learning technologies research for AMR Training Group, says the length of a typical 2week training course can be cut in half by moving it from a lecture format into interactive multimedia. Additionally, studies have shown that learning is improved by about 30%, "but it's tough to nail down increased learning to a true bottom-line benefit." He thinks converting to CBT can be justified when student loads reach about 300.

At Delta, Denny Schmidt, director-training & development, says creation of a multimedia course for flight attendant recurrent training "saved us from going to a second day" of on-site training in Atlanta. Additionally, "we're seeing about a 40% improvement in learning. If you've done a good job of building in the interaction and the evaluation mode, you seem to get a lot of retention."

John Murray, TRO managing director, "can say with reasonable certainty that all of our clients have seen a return on their investment within two years, some within one year," by adopting CBT. Travel costs are an important part of the equation, "especially for the Asia/Pacific carriers, whose only choice for training has been to go to the U.S. or Europe." CBT also "can mean less time off the job for the trainees, which results in less operational impact." Other benefits include "standardization and consistent quality. …

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