IIMS 92 contents
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"English in the Workplace": CD-ROM, self paced literacy training course

Merle Conyer
Training Consultant
Applied Learning Australasia

A. Overview

There is a vital need in Australia for adult oriented and workplace oriented material for literacy training. In 1991 it has been estimated that more than 1,500,000 adult Australians require assistance with literacy in English, with a significant proportion being of an English speaking background. This issue is now being addressed and an exciting and innovative project is currently under development.

This project is using a pioneering approach to literacy, ensuring that the training is functionally and context oriented.

This project will be delivered using interactive CD-ROM technology. The obvious problem in the provision of technology based literacy training is that the audience often has considerable difficulty reading. For this reason, the medium for providing the material must have audio as well as visual capabilities. Interactive video is a possibility, but is relatively expensive and the video component, while stimulating, is not essential.

CD-ROM technology fulfils all the requirements. It allows the self paced, non threatening, stimulating, relevant and individualised combination of computer based training and high quality voice reproduction. CD-ROM is also relatively inexpensive yet still has vast amounts of storage space.

The course will be divided into five modules: Safety Signs, Procedures, Forms, Notices and Flowcharts/ Diagrams. The 40 hours of training will use examples and exercises which are typical of an Australian workforce environment.

The project participants are indicative of the strength of the venture:

This project is being funded by the New South Wales Education and Training Foundation.

B. Why is this project necessary?

In the past few years there has been a growing realisation that literacy levels of adults, from both English and non-English speaking backgrounds (ESB and NESB respectively) are inadequate for the long term development of Australian industry and the society as a whole. Today attention is being paid to both the social and economic costs to Australia of allowing a significant number of ESB and NESB adults to remain 'illiterate' in the English language.

Emphasis is now being placed on the consequences of illiteracy and how this impinges on workplace productivity and safety, the capacity for people to participate in training programs, the limitations illiteracy imposes on upward mobility, and the risk at which peoples' jobs are placed by being unable to participate in award restructuring and multi-skilling processes. "Illiteracy is estimated to cost the nation $3.2 billion a year in lost production, such as through workplace accidents and health problems caused when workers cannot understand safety instructions written in English, ... (and) social problems arise when people cannot perform basic literacy skills such as filling out a form ..." (Literacy strategy targets home, workplace: The Weekend Australian, 31/8/1991, page 3).

This project aims to significantly assist ESB and NESB adults, by providing the improved productivity, safety, communication and job flexibility associated with greater literacy skills.

C. Why CD-ROM?

Prior to undertaking the development of this project, a number of "off the shelf' packages were examined and found to be unsuccessful because either the material was aimed at children, was not workplace oriented, was not Australian, and/or required the user to be able to read. For these reasons, it appeared that if technology based training was to be successful, it would have to be specifically developed and that CD-ROM was the most instructionally effective and cost efficient solution.

CD-ROM presents visual images coupled with textual and audio information, all integrated with interactive learning exercises, and thus provides the exceptional medium for self paced literacy education.

CD-ROM's greatest advantage is the speedy and comprehensive access to large volumes of information. This makes it an ideal vehicle for distributing training to thousands of students, without incurring the penalties of high online costs, difficult access methods or long response times. With CD-ROM there are no restrictions on the type of information stored in a single "multimedia" disc.

The proposed design methodology minimises the maintenance due to separation of modules onto separate disks; each disk is a discrete component of training. Thus changes to one module of the training will not affect any other module of the course.

It is expected that, eventually, any updates to the disk will be less expensive than an equivalent print replication of similar material, as pressing multiple disks reduces the costs significantly.

D. Design Methodology

The methodology developed by Applied Learning Australasia minimises the risks which can be associated with the development of multimedia training. By adopting a staged approach with built in checks on content accuracy and instructional effectiveness, the quality of the end product is assured.

A modified version of the Gagne-Briggs nine events of instruction (Petry, Mouton and Reigeluth, 1987) formed the skeleton of the design methodology. Each lesson has a similar structure, as follows:

  1. Title sequence

  2. Gain attention

  3. Lesson Objectives

  4. Prerequisites

  5. Learning guidance

  6. Elicit performance
    Correct, incorrect, exit feedback
    Mastery, non-mastery feedback

  7. Remediation (if mastery not achieved)
    Learning guidance
    Elicit performance
    Correct, incorrect, exit feedback
    Mastery, non-mastery feedback

  8. Enhance attention and transfer

  9. Lesson summary

  10. Introduction to next lesson
A male and female narrator take the students through the material, using friendly and conversational language.

The examples and case studies used maximise relevancy by relating specifically to the Australian work environment.

Criterion referenced assessment also ensures that the training meets the requirements of the Training Guarantee Legislation.

By using a scenario based approach, the courseware developed ensures that the target audience:

E. Literacy Framework

The framework developed by AMES is based on the following principles:


Literacy: The focus is on teaching structure of language by imparting techniques on how to read different types of text. Thus, rather than becoming familiar with, for example, one particular procedure, the student will gain the skills to read many procedures. The techniques used will allow for a generic course, with transferable skills, that can be used in many workplaces.

F. The Development Cycle

The responsibilities within the production cycle were allocated as follows:

  • content analysis
  • content verification
  • script development
  • content verification
  • graphic design, sound, authoring
  • field testing
  • pressing disks
  • implementation

Quality assurance was implemented at all stages of this development cycle.

G. Why will this project work?

The courseware acknowledges learners as adults and participants in Australian workplaces. As such, it is individualised, learner directed and self paced. The program is also orientated towards existing workplace training infrastructures and educational environments, and is independent of time and location constraints.

The literacy framework is based on a successful text based literacy methodology, supported by linguistic and skills analyses of workplace texts.

The courseware design utilises a sound instructional design methodology.

The courseware will be delivered using proven CD-ROM technology, which is durable, has the capacity to store the multiple media, and can be mass produced and distributed as a reasonable cost.

H. Some Useful References

Designing for multimedia

Buddine, L. (1989). Designing and producing a Multimedia CD-ROM. In Oberlin, S. and Cox, J., CD-ROM Yearbook 1989-90. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Press, 265-269.

Dillon, M. (1989). Scripting interactive multimedia CD systems. In Oberlin, S. and Cox, J., CD-ROM Yearbook 1989-1990. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Press, 275-279.

Gagne, R. M., Briggs, L. J. and Wager, W. W. (1988). Principles of Instructional Design, 3rd edition. NY: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

Petry, B., Mouton, H. and Reigeluth, C. M. (1987). A lesson based on the Gagne-Briggs theory of instruction. In Reigeluth, C. M. (ed.), Instructional theories in action: Lessons illustrating selected theories and models. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 11-25.

Philips International Inc. (1988). Compact Disc-Interactive: A designer's overview. NY: McGraw- Hill.

Romiszowski, A. J. (1986). Developing auto-instructional materials. London: Kogan Press.

Rosenbaum, S. and Walters, D. (1986). Scripting for interactive applications. In Lambert, S. and Ropiequet, S., CD-ROM: The new papyrus. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Press.

Stone, L. and Rutherford, R. (1989). Designing a CD-ROM interface. In Oberlin, S. and Cox, J., CD-ROM Yearbook 1989-1990. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Press, 252-256.

Swain, D. V. and Swain, J. P. (1991). Scripting for the new AV technologies, 2nd edition. Boston: Focal Press.


Applied Learning International. (1990). CD-ROM: An overview. Geber, B. Using CD-ROM in training. (1990). Training: The Magazine of Human Resource Development, 27(3), 115.

Gery, G. J. (1989). CD-ROM: The medium has the message. Training: The Magazine of Human Resource Development, 27(3), 45-51.

Holtz, F. (1988). CD-ROMs: Breakthrough in information storage. Blue Ridge Summit, PA: TAB Books Inc.

Sherman, C. and Daynes, R. (1986). The team approach to interactive disc production. In Lambert, S. and Ropiequet, S., CD-ROM: The new papyrus. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Press.

Strukhoff. R. (1989). The PDO show. In Oberlin, S. and Cox, J., CD-ROM Yearbook 1989-1990. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Press, 413-416.

Literacy and the National Agenda

Dawkins, J. (1991). National Policy on Language and Literacy. Canberra: Department of Employment, Education and Training.

Field, L. (1990). Skilling Australia. Melbourne: Longman Cheshire Pty Ltd.

High price of not speaking good English. Sydney Morning Herald, 5/2/1991, 3.

Kerr, J. and McCall, J. (1990). Literacy for industry restructuring: Teaching reading and writing in a glass factory. Journal of the NSW Adult Migrant English Service, 16, 8-12.

Literacy key to training on the shopfloor. The Australian, 19/1/1991, 50.

Literacy strategy targets home, workplace: The Australian 31/8/1991, 3.

Lo Bianco, J. (1987). National policy on languages. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Services.

Miltenyi, G. (1989). English in the workplace: A shrewd investment? Canberra: Office of Multicultural Affairs.

Adult Literacy

Australian Council for Adult Literacy. (1989). Policy Statement.

Brown H. D. (1980). Principles of language learning and teaching. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Brown, K. and Hood, S. (1989). Writing matters: Writing skills and strategies for students of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Cook-Gumperz, J. (Ed.). (1986). The social construction of literacy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Diehl, W. A. and Mikulecky, L. The nature of reading at work. Journal of Reading, December, 221- 227.

Hood, S. and Solomon, N. (1988). Reading and writing assessment kit. Adelaide, South Australia: National Curriculum Resource Centre.

Joyce, H. (1990). Modelling: A step towards control of texts. Interchange: Journal of the NSW Adult Migrant English Service, 16, 8-12.

Long, P. and Donald, M. (1989). Literacy for productivity: A study of adult literacy in the workplace. Australian Council of Adult Literacy.

Navara, D. and Hood, S. (1991). Literacy assessment resource. NSW: NSW Adult Migrant Education Service Curriculum Unit.

Wickert, R. (1989). No single measure: Summary report. Canberra: Department of Employment, Education and Training.

Please cite as: Conyer, M. (1992). "English in the Workplace": CD-ROM, self paced literacy training course. In Promaco Conventions (Ed.), Proceedings of the International Interactive Multimedia Symposium, 644-649. Perth, Western Australia, 27-31 January. Promaco Conventions. http://www.aset.org.au/confs/iims/1992/conyer.html

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