As their environment changes permanently, learning has become of strategic importance for most enterprises and flexible and distance learning are seen as efficient means for that purpose.
This efficiency is only presumed and has not yet been assessed; thus, banking corporations and manufacturers of learner workstations, authoring systems and other technical equipment for technology based learning have decided to join their efforts to assess the cost-efficiency and pedagogical effectiveness of new distance and flexible learning and delivery systems in the banking and business environment.
MALIBU demonstrated the practicability of integrating technology-based training support with existing industrial training systems. The project demonstrated the need for: the continuing involvement of tutors in the learning process, good user interfaces, robustness and functionality of the systems, adequate training of learners and tutors, and careful planning of organisational integration. The project also highlighted the need for training systems to be integrated with the organisation's existing computing and communication (telematic) system.
To allow significant conclusions, MALIBU relies on three pilot sites respectively in France, Germany and Italy. At each site, the project runs two phases:
design, implementation and evaluation of prototype systems meeting the requirements.
Each one of the pilot sites concentrates most of its efforts on one of the issues of the project: exploratory learning delivery, ISDN-based tele-cooperation between learner and tutor and multimedia and role playing system for distance learning.
The Exploratory Learning Delivery (ELD)
MALIBU-ELD harmoniously combines active tutoring by a human tutor and explorative learning by using the information retrieval facilities.
The pedagogical goal is to give banking clerks the possibility to build their own strategy for information gathering in order to build a significant profile of a given company e.g. a company asking for credit. Training is case-based and includes the possibility of active information retrieval. It is built on:
information management facilities
These facilities are generalised, so that they can be used to build applications for many different domains.
The Remote Tutoring and Monitoring Facility (RTM)
The MALIBU-RTM provides a learning environment which allows the learner to cooperate with a remote tutor.
The system incorporates 3 classes of learning tools:
local learning tools
local support tools
remote tutoring tools.
The advantages gained by the MALIBU RTM system are:
quicker training on introduction of new products or new product releases
easier communication between learner and tutor
better information dissemination and exchange of experiences within the company
improved availability of experts in case of problems
lower training costs (less traveling, less absence from work).
In MALIBU the RTM is used for tele-cooperation with a remote expert and for tele-tutoring on introduction of new products and product releases e.g. communication between employees in a bank's branch and experts in the bank's headquarters.
The Multimedia Role Playing System (MRPS)
MALIBU-MRPS is an integrated software environment to support individual and distance learning. It is based on a graphic metaphor of a real life scenario where the user can activate a variety of tools and courseware modules by selecting specific icons.
The MRPS allows:
the tutor to coach at a distance the teaching plan and the learning activities of the students: time spent in the various sections, results of the exercises, learning approach
the student to study by different didactic materials, e.g. hypermedia, CBT, videos, and to self check her/his skill increase using a simple, coherent and self explained user interface.Moreover, the MRPS provides innovative capabilities of Remote Tutoring for Distance Learning:
Video-conference between student and teacher. A particular solution could be designed to distant role playing exercises. In such a solution, the teacher will be able to control the behavioral skills acquired by the student, simulating a real situation like a customer-employee interaction.
White board. This facility allows to send a portion of the screen e.g. a teacher can select a portion of the screen containing a histogram and then he/she can send it to the student. Moreover he/she can duplicate his/her mouse pointer to indicate the items directly on the student remote screen.
Shared use of the applications. The teacher can operate on the student operating on his/her own terminal: to select options, to write, to open and close windows and applications.
Dialing. This will include some services like a phone book, the possibility to dial up (connect) to a distant site.
The requirements of pilot sites are analysed and three prototypes are designed, implemented and evaluated in MALIBU. They are used as platforms to acquire generalized knowledge and methods for:
learning and training requirements analysis
distance and flexible learning delivery systems' design and implementation
distance and flexible learning delivery systems' evaluation, with focus on pedagogical effectiveness and economic efficiency.
MALIBU's conclusions concerning the pilot experiments and the related prototypes and especially the resulting methods for requirements analysis, implementation and evaluation of flexible and distance learning solutions for the banking and business sectors are of interest for the professional training market.