ADAPTIVE TRAINING IN WEB-BASED SERVICES
, C. De Castro2
1LEPIDA Networking and Beyond, Spa (ITALY)
2IEIIT-CNR, National Research Council of Italy (ITALY)
The wide penetration of ICTs in our lives creates a problem of competences: while, in the past, these services were used by inner circles of trained people, who also mediated between clients and machines, the situation has now changed.
The worldwide diffusion of the Internet has led to a multitude of web-based services at everyone’s disposal, undergoing continuous updates and advances.
Almost every field is involved: public administration, increasingly computerized industries, tourism, etc.; being untrained would mean to be cut off from the world. Appropriate training and refresh courses must thus be carried out, with high expenses that often neither privates nor companies can afford.
Many courses available are too introductory or too advanced, while they should be tailored to different users’ needs and expertise. In addition, users can be clients, employees or technicians, each category requiring a distinct training: clients must be shown the steps for performing a task; employees must learn new functionalities; technicians must face new advanced features and exceptions. Moreover, the expertise of individuals varies, so training should be tailored to single users.
The considered approach tries to fulfil the above requirements, divides users into the groups mentioned, and proposes off-line self-training sessions, integrated in the application and based on adaptive testing. This method adapts the difficulty of questions to previous learner’s responses, acquiring precise information about current ability, and can thus allow a dynamic tailoring of both learning and assessment phases to individuals.
In adaptive training, while the user tests the service functionalities, his or her choices produce personalized events, such as specific tests. The event series is strictly related to the user, his or her choices and proficiency.
Users are supposed to acquire an adequate autonomy, so as to face the real service properly. Note that the system can acquire plenty of information about how users react to the service, such as clients’ mistakes or requests. This information can be reused to give employees further training about possible difficulties, or suggest technicians more performing updates to the client’s interface, further improvements or new functionalities.
From the economic viewpoint, the initial product, including adaptive training, would cost more, but could be widely repaid by a higher grade of computerized training. In addition, concerning the staff, a personalized training is highly efficacious and can be repeated when the personal knowledge level increases. New workers, moreover, have immediately at disposal ad-hoc training and can enter the production cycle more quickly and effectively. As for clients, they can depend less on the operators’ remote help, with the well-known delays and misunderstandings. Remote help, in fact, could also be improved, by preparing operators better and improving FAQ answers lists according to testing phases.
Moreover, several commercial products undergo frequent updates and enhancements and training courses should thus be continuous. If adaptive training were adopted, new modules would contain update material, that could be easily included in previous releases, with great saving for both producers and users.
In this way, finally, the approach to service design and development itself would acquire a further integrated phase, i.e. web-based personalized training.