Almost 100 of the world’s top leaders in the areas of training and online learning, drawn from the USA, the UK, Australia and South Africa, met in Boston, MA, this month to discuss the industry’s key trends and issues. Organised by global e-learning producer TATA Interactive Systems (TIS), attendance at the conference –- the Tata Learning Forum 2005 –- was by invitation only.
Elaborating on the role of online universities in supporting workforce development, Brian Mueller, CEO of the University of Phoenix Online, argued that the delivery of learning will become increasingly mobile; while the upcoming generation of workers will show a marked preference for learning via problem solving simulations and gaming. Mueller confirmed learning’s dependence on high quality instructional design, commenting: “If content is king, instructional design is the genius in learning”.
Vicki Morris, Vice President of Marketing at Human Capital Management specialists, Saba, commented: “We can continue to lower the cost of training but are we training the right people in the right way? Failing to align and develop individual effort with business strategy is a pervasive problem in organisations today”.
Sanjaya Sharma, CEO of TIS, identified some major characteristics of the modern world of learning:
• Increasingly, many training managers are being expected to rollout learning programmes globally – which indicates the growing globalisation of business.
• Outsourcing both HR activities and the production of training/learning materials is also increasing rapidly.
• E-learning is set to play a key part in competency development, performance support and ‘imagineering’ (via simulations)
A key -- and unique -- feature of the Tata Learning Forum 2005 was the opportunity to listen and share the first hand experience of peers who are tasked with leading learning initiatives in their organizations. The real solutions to real problems brought to light by practising leaders made the Forum come alive with relevant and live issues being covered, including:
• The effective measurement of the value of e-learning to an organization --applying the tests of ‘is it realistic and so will it be implemented’, ‘how much time and money will it cost to design and implement’, and ‘are the usage reports clear, concise and useful’?
• The use of games to facilitate learning, as evidenced by American Airlines and Qantas.
• Developing an electronic performance support system that works -– a case study from John Kusi-Mensah, Head of Knowledge Management Operations at Zurich Financial Services, one of the world’s largest insurers.
• The complexities involved in implementing a broad scoped financial solutions project at the enterprise level (Oracle) at Sun Life Financial and the challenge of ensuring high-quality, effective, concurrent training was explained. The robust and comprehensive TIS approach to this challenge was outlined to the benefit of the audience.
In addition, delegates from the world of education discussed issues including:
• The role of online universities in supporting workforce development,
• Quality control in online education,
• The use of simulations in education,
• Innovations in online business education programs and
• Migration from a print culture to a blended electronic culture in publishing.
“Hearing their competitors and colleagues outlining not only their challenges within the learning function but also how they have overcome them has been a valuable experience for all the TLF delegates – including those of us from TIS”, said Manoj Kutty, TIS’s Worldwide President of Sales and Marketing. “In sharing our solutions to problems and combining to map out the trends in the e-learning world over then next year or so, we have all benefited from the TLF experience”.
About Tata Interactive Systems
Tata Interactive Systems (TIS) is a global pioneer in e-learning. A part of the $14 billion Tata Group—one of the largest and most trusted business conglomerates in India—TIS has 15 years of experience in training consulting, designing, and developing innovative and cutting-edge workforce performance enhancement solutions. Its service bouquet includes Consulting; Simulations and Simulation-based Learning Objects (SimBLs™); Story-based Learning Objects (StoBLs™); Game-based Learning Objects (GamBLs™); IT Application Training; Regulatory and Compliance Training; Adaptive Assessments; Sales and Customer Service Training; New Hire Training; Electronic Performance Support Systems (EPSS); and Business Processes and Skills Training.
TIS employs a global team of 850 multi-disciplinary specialists—a unique mix of Project Managers, Software Engineers, Instructional Designers, Content Developers, Visual Designers, and Animators. It has a strong presence in the US, with operations spread across seven cities—Atlanta, Boston, Carlsbad, Chicago, Dallas, New Jersey, and San Jose—serviced by its development teams stationed locally. In keeping with the co-shoring model, the teams are managed by on-site Project Managers who co-ordinate with the clients and drive the project operations.
Powered by creative talent, sound processes, and technological excellence, TIS has developed 950+ e-learning solutions for more than 300 clients—including more than 50 Fortune 500 companies—across the US, UK, Europe, Australia, and Asia. Its client roster includes leading corporations, renowned educational institutions and government bodies such as Allstate, American Airlines, Abbey National, American Honda Finance Corporation, British Airways, Citigroup, Cigna, ExxonMobil, Florida Virtual School, GE, GlaxoSmithKline, Hewlett Packard, Motorola, McKinsey & Co., McGraw-Hill, UNICEF, Unilever, University of Maryland, and University of Phoenix.