Paul Kleinbart (Axis Learning): Distance Learning in the Covid-19 era

The need for protective measures during the Covid-19 pandemic imposes barriers between trainers and students in conventional teaching environments. Paul Kleinbart, General Manager at Axis Learning, says e-learning and online learning are necessary, but not ideal solutions, particularly if content and technology vary from place to place.

 

Is the acceleration of digital training delivery as a result of Covid-19 sustainable or simply an emergency solution?

 

Digital training is more of a stopgap than a permanent solution. Covid-19 creates significant challenges for those delivering and receiving training. Social distancing requirements and masks have complicated face-to-face training (“F2FT”) in which trainers and trainees enjoy the benefits of interacting in a common physical space. The alternatives are either e-learning or online programmes. E-learning courses are pre-programmed, self-contained and function independently. These courses are normally available online through the Internet at any time. Online courses exist in two configurations: One is conducted “live” through an immediate interaction between the trainer and the trainees; the other is pre-recorded by the trainer and then “streamed out” to the trainees for access at a pre-determined time or permanently. Both e-learning and online learning rely on the speed and stability of the network and videoconferencing software. Because they remove the important benefits of non-verbal communication and the potential for teamwork, e-learning and online learning are unlikely to replace F2FT.

”Our solution is to offer a highly diversified programme of courses while supporting trainees to adapt our courses to their unique requirements.”

With major training institutions accepting digital training, what are the prospects for borderless provision of international training courses?

 

In the past, I have provided distance learning courses of different types to users in many countries (e.g., Mongolia, El Salvador, Vietnam). Assuming that the target country has a reasonable telecommunications infrastructure (not always the case), the challenge to offering international training courses is not technical, but rather content. Most of our courses on risk management, for example, are based on European norms, which do not apply in many developing countries. For those courses to be meaningful in any country, trainees must be able to relate a course’s content to their own situations. Because the trainer cannot be an expert on the characteristics of each market, it is the trainee who must adapt a course to his own needs.

 

Is risk management a subject offered in digital training?

 

Yes. ALRiM and the House of Training (“HoT”) have collaborated in developing distance learning courses on risk management in both e-learning and online training formats. The courses have been very successful. However, our main challenge is ensuring the relevance of our course material for the needs of the trainees in their individual markets. In the delivery of F2FT or online courses, the trainer can perform the task of adapting content to local needs. However, for e-learning courses, it is hardly feasible because risk management is a vast and complex topic which must address specificities in each country. Adapting it to the needs of trainees in different countries is impractical. Our solution is to offer a highly diversified programme of courses while supporting trainees to adapt our courses to their unique requirements.

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