iPad meets Windows: The new face of computer training

Highly graphical, interactive, and mobile education systems shows what's new and what's still key from established tech

As I walked through the show floor of this year's Training 2013 Conference and Expo -- a conference for my own field of endeavor -- I was struck by the dichotomy of traditional and new in evidence.

The iPad was featured prominently as the device of choice for portable training, with practically everyone having made the move to HTML- and MPEG-4-based content delivery given Apple's refusal to support the once-standard Adobe Flash. With video and graphics the trendy presentation methods in everyone's computer-based training offerings, the industry's quick shift from Flash-based delivery was all the more striking.

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But traditional technologies such as Microsoft SQL were common in the back end, and Microsoft-oriented training continued to be a major focus, even if now delivered increasingly on iPads. Booth after booth highlighted training for Microsoft products, whether classroom-based or online-delivered, whether for IT certification or user self-education. More ironic, the training materials for the often-maligned Windows 8 were the ones that most quickly sold out.

Beyond these trends in the foundational technology, I also came across several interesting vendors whose approaches to learning management software -- aka education tools -- merited enterprises' attention:

  • Soundview: Its products summarize book content for the corporate world, which is a great way to get executive summaries on key enterprise-focused books. Yes, there's a mobile app for that.
  • Herman International's Whole Brain Advantage: This company helped Microsoft develop the user experience -- the understanding of the human elements, not the technology -- of the Xbox Kinect system. And it has a four-element model for others to better understand the human element before building their products.
  • KnowledgeVision: This company offers an online digital content presentation tool that makes it to upload and share recorded webcasts, in-house training, and other digital content, without the frustrations that come from using a personal service like YouTube.
  • Train by Cell: This company's product allows you to deliver mobile learning content and communicate and engage with employees any time, anywhere in the world. It uses audio, text messaging, and mobile websites (at the .mobi domain) to provide a variety of cool learning pushes, such as quizzes, scavenger hunts, games, and case studies.
  • GoAnimate: This was one of my favorite tools at the show. If you have ever wanted to put together training that includes animated characters but found it too difficult or expensive, check out GoAnimate to learn how to easily build and use animated videos. You can use cookie-cutter designs that are easy to snap in or build and create your own.
  • Reflection Software: It has created an innovative learning management system called Cognition that is feature-rich and scalable with all the typical features you look for in an LMS: SCORM compliance, in-house and Web-based offerings, and progress reporting. What I especially liked about this company was its flexibility in working with client needs; the staff demonstrated features designed specifically for clients, such as a simulation tool and a gamification town with a storyline that people had to follow for learning. Well done on both counts!

There's a lot of action in computer-based training today, both in the sophistication of the interaction enabled and in the shift to anytime, anywhere learning through tablets, the Web, and other conduits now at the disposal of users.

This story, "iPad meets Windows: The new face of computer training," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of J. Peter Bruzzese's Enterprise Windows blog and follow the latest developments in Windows at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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