Somyürek (2012) proposed an interactive learning environment model for workplace training based on analysis of the previous studies in the literature. She stated workplace training involves three major challenges; refreshing outdated job skills and knowledge, capturing organizational memory, and providing adequate help to employees in real time. She claimed this model could be used to overcome these challenges.
Refreshing outdated job skills and knowledge
Due to the rapid nature of information change, companies need employees who remain open to new developments and continually refresh their job skills to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Since knowledge doubles every 18 months (Wetmore, 2000), employees have to search for and acquire information in order to maintain or improve their qualification levels (Kawase, Herder & Nejdl, 2009). Studies have shown that 50% of all employees’ skills will become outdated within three to five years (Moe & Blodgett, 2000, p. 227). Tracking modern technological innovations and new methods is vital for the long-lasting success of organizations. Therefore, for today’s companies, keeping the skills of their employees up-to-date is a major priority (Brown, 1996, p. 9).
Capturing organizational memory
Loss of organizational memory is a problem commonly faced by most organizations. The knowledge generated through experience in an organization is termed organizational memory and is thought to have important consequences for performance (Scalzo, 2006). Loss of organizational memory means that organizations lose knowledge gained during previous experiences or projects (Nermien, 2003, p. 80). Unless organizations capture the existing knowledge of their employees, they will repeat mistakes (Nermien, 2003, p. 80), waste time resolving previously solved problems and will always be concerned that if an employee with valuable knowledge leaves the company, this knowledge would leave with the employee (Mason, 1999). Özdemir (2010) stated that the loss of organizational memory is one of the major causes of repeated mistakes in the Ministry of National Education’s (Turkey) large ICT integration projects. Similarly, many corporations such as Xerox, Colgate-Palmolive, Nestlé USA, and Cisco have recognized several problems caused by inabilities to share experience across their respective organizations and developed projects to solve problems and achieve desired expectations (White & Croasdell, 2004; Hildrum, 2009).
Providing adequate help to employees in real time
For companies, the most difficult challenge is providing adequate help to its employees in real time. Training systems usually contain large volumes of knowledge, and it is difficult to find and select the information needed in these environments. Frequently, multiple searches and queries are required to find the most appropriate information and guidance for the employee. In corporations, an individual’s learning needs are based on their ongoing tasks, and effective access to relevant and accurate information is desirable. Electronic performance support systems (EPSSs) are used in modern job environments to supply task-specific and user-centered support that matches the current work context of employees (Huneiti, 2008). However, these EPSSs are insufficient to meet the individual needs of users with different levels of knowledge, expertise, qualifications, and goals (Brusilovsky & Cooper, 1999; Huneiti, 2008). It is important to enable each employee to obtain individual support in filling ever-changing skill and competence gaps.
An interactive learning environment model for the workplace
The proposed interactive learning environment model for workplace training is not based on any particular existing model but was developed based on the relevant literature. The basis of this model involves the integration of e-learning, knowledge management, and adaptive hypermedia to combine the strengths of each. According to the model (Figure 1), the following features are required to provide effective learning opportunities:
The environment should:
- be flexible, easily updated, and usable by each employee without requiring complicated computer skills, be accessible from various platforms - PDAs, computers, etc. - and be structured to provide new knowledge and skills necessary for employees.
- enable organizations to capture the existing knowledge and skills of their employees regarding the problems they face or the solutions they have created. For this purpose, it should provide a database that includes the information collected in the system in the form of stories, anecdotes, and cases. It should also contain an effective index or structure to allow users to easily obtain the needed knowledge and cases.
- support interaction between employees and make shared experiences possible. For example, online communities should be constructed that are useful for mutual support and giving meaningful advice and feedback regarding tasks and topics of common interest.
- contain “learner-directed” activities and include ill-structured problem situations. Simulations that model real-life tasks and conditions are also an important part of the learning process. Educational games that teach team-building skills or explain how experts approach given problems would also provide opportunities for experiencing work-related tasks in a virtual platform.
- include an electronic performance support module for just-in-time scaffolding to improve job performance.
- provide support to allow users to find and select reliable information. For this purpose, two main solutions are possible. In the first solution, the system can contain adaptive agents. This means that the information that is offered to users by electronic performance support module may differ in the focus or level of detail according to each employee's current goals, knowledge, experience, and preferences. In other words, the learning environment should provide advanced performance support to employees in performing their jobs using data semantics. The other solution is to integrate metacognitive tools into the learning environment. The use of metacognitive tools should enable employees to become aware of their own knowledge levels, facilitate deciding what is wrong or what should be improved when they are carrying out a task, and foster choosing appropriate resources by leading them towards strategic thinking.
Figure 1. An interactive learning environment model for the workplace (Somyürek, 2012)
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- Scalzo, N. J. (2006). Memory loss? Corporate knowledge and radical change. Journal of Business Strategy, 27(4),.60-69.
- Somyürek, S. (2012), Interactive learning in workplace training, In Jiyou Jia (Ed.), Educational Stages and Interactive Learning: From Kindergarten to Workplace Training. Hershey PA, USA: IGI Global. DOI: 10.4018/978-1-46660-137-6. ISBN13: 9781466601376. ISBN10: 146660137X. EISBN13: 9781466601383.
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