Monday, 02 March 2015 17:36

Digital taking over as printed manuals disappear

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Image courtesy of digitalart, freedigitalphotos.net/images Image courtesy of digitalart, freedigitalphotos.net/images

IT Training provider Dimension Data Learning Solutions (DDLS) says the use of printed product manuals and guides is rapidly diminishing and over 50% of its courses are now delivered with digital rather than printed courseware.

To adapt to the changes, DDLS says it has enhanced digital facilities at its six state capital training centres.

DDLS CEO Mal Shaw says digital courseware now enables students to access their courseware from multiple devices and locations and, in some cases, the digital version continues to be updated by the vendor for the duration of the student’s license.

Shaw says DDLS’ training facilities have been upgraded to enable the optimal utilisation of the courseware.

“Some years ago we recognised that there would be a move from traditional methods of courseware delivery on printed manuals to digital versions, and we’re now calling the shift.

“Perhaps surprisingly, until recently the majority of training materials and technical content has been produced in hard copy, rather than prepared for digital delivery.

“We’ve now reached a tipping point where, for many of our courses, over 50% are delivered with digital rather than printed courseware. Not only do students no longer have to carry around printed manuals, but with courseware now readily  available online and accessible via the cloud students can login, view and, importantly, search the content anytime and from anywhere.”

According to Shaw, with technology evolving at such a rapid rate, the lifecycles of product manuals and guides are reducing, and the typical three-year lifecycle of technology change has collapsed as cloud based solutions reduce the time between software releases.

Shaw says that with numerous product updates, a printed manual would not be able to keep up, and in this age of cloud, with manuals evolving over time, students could now have the most up-to-date information and resources at their fingertips - digital content is increasingly expected by the new generation of employees, the digital natives, who are more accustomed to consuming content electronically.

“From our point of view, this is a very important change as it provides agility both for us as training providers and for the students. Product lifecycles are shortening and courses can now be updated appropriately,” Shaw says.

“Technology vendors are publishing with digital and it means that we can keep our courseware as current as possible. Traditional printed courseware restricts agility due to finite layout, production and distribution limitations. Digital content provides more opportunity for the use of colour, rich-media and online collaboration. Cloud delivered content enables agility and pace, as well as the obvious green benefits of not printing and distributing 1000s of manuals.

“We are already delivering digital courseware across many technologies, such as Microsoft, Cisco, Citrix and VMware and are equipping our training facilities to best harness the new courseware. We have deployed Wi-Fi in our 50 classrooms in our six state capital facilities so students are enabled for use of their own devices.”

Shaw says DDLS is also upgrading its classroom infrastructure to widescreen monitors and in many cases dual monitors, so students can access digital courseware on one, and lab content on the other. “Many digital manuals also allow personal annotations, which enables trainers to push training down to a particular manual and pre-prepare notes to specific modules that students can annotate directly to the manual. The move to digital courseware is a great step forward for training and development.”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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