Computer-based training

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Office anthropology™
An ethical learning opportunity pictorialised, yesterday
The JC puts on his pith-helmet, grabs his butterfly net and a rucksack full of marmalade sandwiches, and heads into the concrete jungleIndex: Click to expand:

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A bedfellow to continuing professional development, computer-based training is one of those curses of inhouse life that help senior management satisfy themselves that their organisations are compliant with prevailing policy, their trading floors stocked with morally charged, uncompromised and preternaturally wise philanthropists who will stop at nothing to ensure progressive, liberal enlightenment pervades their commercial activities.

CBTs come in two varieties, both of which are replete with stock photos of handsome, cosmopolitan executives facing implausible ethical dilemmas through the lens of their mobile devices, in the manner of those frisky photo-comics from My Guy magazine:

  • Easy ones: Profoundly patronising, graphics-rich interactive modules where agreeable eye-candy actors play out unfeasible hypothetical scenarios, and candidates are given a multi-choice question, the correct answer to which is either “escalate at once to compliance” (if only one answer is permitted) or “all of the above” (where candidates are asked to assess a list of perfidies).
  • Hard ones: Excessively dense, long-winded, detailed and arcane treatises, usually written by someone in compliance with the prose style of—well, of an experienced compliance officer—where the resulting questions are verbose, ambiguous, predicated on incorrect assumptions, incapable of unequivocal answer and in any case do not match any of the alternatives offered by way of multi-choice answer. Passing this kind of test — the stipulated pass rate is usually 80% or more — requires a persistent sequence of guessing. If you are lucky, the training won’t randomise questions for each sitting of the competence test, so you’ll only need to do it three or four times.

Note the submerged cottage industry — did I say “cottage industry”? I meant military-industrial complex — required to generate these glib buffets: not just third party “vendors” of generic media content, but those entrusted with their procurement, onboarding, content-population, audit, oversight and implementation. This must all then be blessed by compliance teams and subject matter experts, policies must be written, a system created to track, escalate and, ultimately, sanction those who overlook auto-generated, unmonitored, mailshots, to complete their health and safety in employment online training by the stipulated deadline.

In either case, we wonder: in practical terms — you know, in affecting real outcomes, out there in the field — what possible difference do such tedious sidelines have? Has anyone tested effectiveness? You would think a randomised control trial would be easy enough to carry out.

See also

November 2021