Inspiration for Students of Instructional Design and Technology

Scenario 3: Asynchronous Training. In an effort to improve its poor safety record, a biodiesel manufacturing plant needs a series of safety training modules. These stand-alone modules must illustrate best practices on how to safely operate the many pieces of heavy machinery on the plant floor. The modules should involve step-by-step processes and the method of delivery needs to be available to all shifts at the plant. As well, the shift supervisors want to be sure the employees are engaged and can demonstrate their learning from the modules.

Among online learning’s many advantages, asynchronous courses have the additional feature of being “available 24 hours a day, at the learner’s convenience, and are time-zone independent” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012, p. 125). However, some may question whether distance education is appropriate for workplace safety training. The WorkSafely Web site debunks this notion, listing it among the Top 10 Training Myths for workplace safety (WorkSafely, n.d.). Instead, they say training comes in many forms, and online learning is becoming more commonplace. For the scenario in question, I would recommend video podcasts and mobile learning.

Video podcasts

Video podcasts are quite commonplace these days thanks to popular sites like YouTube. These videos have more than entertainment value, however. For example, the City of New York uses video and audio podcasts for their new teacher training (Learning Times, n.d.). In similar fashion, the biodiesel company in the example scenario could deploy narrated, video demonstrations of safety procedures. The videos could be embedded in eLearning courses, with test scores reported back to an LMS for compliance reporting. One advantage of podcasts is that they allow a long session to be broken into smaller chunks. In a previous job, I worked for a company that sells compliance training materials to the process manufacturing industry. Among their products are CBTs, which include videos on safety topics. A Google search for “osha training videos” brings up a long list of vendors offering similar products. The company in the case study would probably be able to purchase suitable videos to get their training program up and running quickly. These videos would resemble the following example, available free on YouTube, which demonstrates a lesson on tool safety.

Mobile learning

Not as commonplace as video podcasts, mobile learning delivers training via smart phones, tablets, and the Web. Cisco Systems predicts that in 2012 mobile devices with Internet connections will surpass the number of humans on the earth (Oakes & Polaschek, 2012). Ambient Insight predicts that by 2015, 300 million PreK-12 schoolchildren worldwide will have mobile learning devices (Oakes & Polaschek, 2012). Even if these projections are optimistic, it seems obvious that mobile technology will have a significant impact on distance learning in the next few years. Calling mobile learning the “rising star” of distance education, the following YouTube video compares mobile learning to eLearning:

Although use of mobile technology for enterprise learning is still a new idea, some industry leaders are already embracing it. Qualcomm, a global company employing 22,000 employees, is currently rolling out a major eLearning project that uses mobile technology to distribute enterprise knowledge (Oakes & Polaschek, 2012). Forbes recently published its list of the top 50 iPad rollouts. I’ve included the top 10, shown below. Among them are high-tech companies, K-12 schools, and government.

Top 10 iPad rollouts


So, how would our biodiesel manufacturer in the case study put mobile technology to good use? Employees and shift supervisors could access training and reference materials on the plant floor using the company’s wireless network. The training could be designed in small modules for just-in-time reference—much more effective than going back to an office to find a book or load a training video. Furthermore, the GPS feature available on most mobile devices could be used to deliver training based on location. For example, the user might only see training for the equipment found in their current location.

I believe the combination of video podcasts and mobile learning would transform the biodiesel plant’s safety training, resulting in fewer accidents and fines.


Lai, E. (2012, April 25). Top 50 iPad rollouts by enterprises & schools. Forbes. Retrieved from

Learning Times. (n.d.).Case study: New York City new teacher training. Retrieved from

Oakes, K., & Polaschek, J. (facilitators). (2012, July 10). Mobile learning: Delivering learning in a connected world [Webcast]. Retrieved from

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.

WorkSafely. (n.d.).Safety training: Top 10 training myths that stand between you and your goal of zero accidents. Retrieved from

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