This is the second of a two-part series by Robert Gibson exploring ways postsecondary institutions can better serve the remote workforce. In the first article, Gibson discussed the value of using open systems to allow professionals to access ongoing learning, and the importance of badging and alternative credentials. In this piece, he explores two more strategies to help institutions capture this growing and lucrative marketplace.
Strategy 3: Serious Gaming and Simulations in Providing Remote Workforce Training
Sometimes referred to as ‘serious games’ or ‘persuasive games,’ these simulations are constructed using game-based mechanics, aesthetics and virtual metaphors to engage teleworkers, promote problem solving and critical thinking skills and provide motivational strategies. Game-based learning allows the learner to increase his or her abilities and improve work-related skills using a self-contained training game. These types of applications are common in business schools where learners participate in games that mimic business scenarios using a variety of constraints. These games promote critical thinking and problem solving through the use of challenge-based scenarios that can change and adapt depending on the user’s input. For example, police agencies use a form of persuasive gaming when they train using simulators. Responses to scenarios and tracking of scores related to those scenarios are included in reports following the game. A hybrid version of a serious game is called a 3D serious game — somewhat similar to a 3D training simulation, but incorporating a competitive experience. In addition to learning a skill or piece of knowledge, the user will be called upon to use that skill or knowledge in order to overcome certain challenges. In some cases, the user will compete against pre-defined obstacles, but often multiple users will compete against one another to make the most effective use of the learned skills and knowledge.
Strategy 4: Using Work-Based Mentors and Coaches for Credentialing and Training
Known as eLearning champions or Learning Support Managers (LSMs), these individuals serve as corporate liaisons or mentors between the company and its remote workers. The idea behind this strategy is for the mentor to provide support regarding eLearning courses remote workers may be taking online, or simply answer questions they may have regarding work-related issues. Many companies make use of their internal talent to fill these mentoring roles. A few American corporations are beginning to introduce this practice that’s popular in the United Kingdom. A hybrid version of this strategy is known as instant mentoring. These individuals provide support 24/7 for remote workers who are engaged in eLearning courses. Most corporations using this strategy are employing personalized learning wherein workers are able to design a curriculum to fit their own career aspirations or receive additional training in areas that are considered skills gaps. Instant mentoring can involve a designated team of individuals or it can be a network of individuals woven together using a fabric of social networking.
Remote workers are increasingly important to the success of many multinational companies. This business strategy not only saves money, but can create greater efficiencies in bringing products to market at less cost and in less time. However, training and certifying individuals for particular skills is often challenge given their locations. Formal education formats are often ineffective for these individuals. They take too much time and are too expensive. The curriculum often does not meet the needs of the companies and, normally, flexible delivery formats aren’t offered. These formal education processes will increasingly be challenged as new training, development and credentialing systems emerge. Providing these workers access to any number of options to increase their education or skills in a timely, cost-effective manner will be central to many corporate strategies.
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 Guy Fletcher, “The secret to engaging and training remote workers? Support and engage through technology,” Changeboard.com, August 10, 2009. Accessed at http://www.changeboard.com/content/2766/the-secret-to-engaging-and-training-remote-workers-support-and-engage-through-technology/.
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