April 08 2015
By: Terry L. Mathis
More and more organizations are using computer-based training (CBT) modules. Most started using them for OSHA-required yearly refresher training. The CBT approach had some advantages: workers could attend individually rather than in a classroom with multiple students and an instructor; the individual training approach caused less disruption of business activities than a classroom approach; the training was self-paced so everyone could move through the materials at their own pace; the modules could include testing for knowledge levels; and the CBT could keep current rosters of who had completed the various modules.
Then organizations expanded the use of CBT into more questionable areas. Along this path, someone forgot that CBT is education; not training. You can impart information via computer but you cannot build manual skills. Relying on CBT to teach manual job skills or even basics such as fire-extinguisher use is only a partial approach. Students end up having knowledge without skills. If the CBTs are followed up with on-the-job training or classroom simulations, the knowledge can begin to be translated into skills. Without such follow-up, CBTs can simply create a false sense of competence that can, and has, resulted in serious safety incidents.
Terry Mathis, Founder and retired CEO of ProAct Safety, has served as a consultant and advisor for top organizations the world over. A respected strategist and thought leader, Terry has authored five books, numerous articles, videos and blogs, and is known for his dynamic and engaging presentations. EHS Today has named him one of the '50 People Who Most Influenced EHS' four consecutive times. Business leaders and safety professionals seek Terry's practical insight and unique ability to introduce new perspectives that lead to real change.