Wireless technology applications, specifically for personal digital assistants (pdas), as well as more "open" architectures captured much of the buzz at training 2001.
Many exhibitors at the show claimed to have the "first" in wireless delivery apps, but the real questions remain: Is the content, as well as the customer, ready for it? Although the jury is out on those obvious questions, several companies are poised to capitalize on the increasingly widespread popularity of pdas.
Generation21, Golden, Colo., unveiled the second generation of wireless functionality for integrated training and knowledge management. The technology, part of the company's Total Knowledge Management (tkm) system, enables users to log onto any pda (Palm or Pocket PC) platform, access their company's server and knowledge database and instantly download the information they need.
Last July, pri Automation, a leader in advanced automation systems and software for the semiconductor industry, became the first Generation21 client to explore the wireless tkm functionality using the Palm vii. According to Peter Parsons, pri's director of product knowledge and learning systems, the company is "better able to deliver critical knowledge when and where employees and customers need it."
Global Learning Systems, McLean, Va., unveiled Learning to Go, an interactive training solution for wireless mobile users. gls has created "an instructional design model and technical delivery infrastructure that enables users to download interactive learning onto their pda for offline viewing," according to Jim Martell, ceo.
The infrastructure includes the baseline ability to view text and simple graphics, record end-user data and upload and download content via desktop HotSync or remotely for those users with wireless Internet access. On the server side, the technical delivery infrastructure will include the ability to identify the type of pda used, build and download Web pages uniquely suited/sized for the end-user's device and upload end-user data such as lessons completed and quiz scores from the pda for inclusion into a database. Users with the Palm operating system receive content created with text, graphics and simple interactivity, while users of Microsoft's Pocket PC OS can receive full-motion video clips, animation and sound.
Although it was not officially announced during the show, KnowledgeNet, Scottsdale, Ariz., gave our editorial staff a sneak preview of its wireless application aimed at the pda and other remote-user markets (we were duly impressed). At the heart of the company's e-learning content is Macromedia's Flash Player, which allows for the delivery of full multimedia, interactive training. —T.G.