SCTE•ISBE Learning Leader Sees “The Jetsons” Future for Career Training

Jill Banks thinks there’s a big lesson to be learned from career education during the COVID-19 pandemic: Online training works.

The director of learning operations for SCTE•ISBE, Banks recently stopped in for a 4Front podcast to talk about the changing world of corporate training and how the pandemic may permanently shape on-the-job learning.

In her role at SCTE•ISBE, she oversees industry-leading training courses for professionals at all levels of the cable industry. Due to COVID-19, the courses that were previously offered in-person shifted to online formats and, despite concerns elsewhere about the effectiveness of distance learning, it’s working, Banks says.

“This experience made it even more clear that virtual learning will play a major role in the future rather than the ‘sit in a classroom and this is the only way I’m going to learn’ attitude,” she says. “People are very self-directed and they will do things at their own pace and at their own time. When you have these online courses, it allows them to control when and where and how they do them.”

At the same time, there is increased use of microlearning, where subjects are broken up into smaller pieces. SCTE•ISBE developed a library of such short-format lessons and teaching materials, ranging from technical introductions that take only a couple minutes to tutorials that take approximately 10 minutes. In a 2017 study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, researchers found that learning in bite-sized pieces makes the transfer of learning from classroom to office desk 17 percent more efficient.

Digital training continues to take on new dimensions, as well. SCTE•ISBE is developing video simulations that trainees can use to experience what it’s like to operate a bucket truck or make cable connections in a customer’s home. Banks also points to how technology is creating opportunities for hands-on experiences that can be experienced virtually—something that is especially important for training technicians to be in the field. With these technologies, real-life experiences can be simulated in 3D training environments, bridging the gap between virtual learning and hands-on experience.

Looking ahead, Banks thinks there is a lot more to be learned about digital training, and she looks for that discussion to continue at the 4Front Conference June 15–16. She draws on a great example from the vintage cartoon The Jetsons.

The Jetsons were 100 percent digital, so how do we get to that vision of tomorrow? How do we get everyone else there?” she wonders. “Regardless of your economic background or position, how do we make sure that kind of connected, virtual environment is available to all? I don’t have the answer for that, but it’s part of that crystal ball, and it’s somewhere in our collective future. People are planning for it, but it’s a big challenge to overcome.”


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