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Virtual Workshops: Using Today's Networking Tools to Train Tomorrow's Experts
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Training and development of people is absolutely critical to business success in the 21st century. Achieving this goal is increasingly difficult for many companies, however, due to issues carried over from the 20th century. For example, downsizing programs have eviscerated many plant O&M organizations. Even worse, the people who remain frequently have far less experience than the people they replaced. At the same time, training and travel budgets have shrunk and many of today's workers are too busy to leave their jobs for off-site training. DuPont's Energy Technology Network (ETN) recognized the challenges inherent in these new business realities and began to explore new ways to share knowledge and expertise among its members. The ETN developed a radical new approach to deliver live, on-site training using DuPont's wide-area communications network and Microsoft's NetMeeting™ data conferencing software: "Virtual Workshops." In I999, the ETN used the virtual workshop approach to deliver timely training on important energy-related topics to nearly 1,000 participants at over 40 sites worldwide for a total out-of-pocket cost of less than $5,000! Virtual workshops allow participants to get the benefit of a live instructor without ever leaving their plant or office, thus eliminating the unproductive travel time normally incurred with offsite seminars. They also make it possible for an entire work team to participate in a seminar rather than rationing valuable training and travel dollars among individual team members. This paper describes the virtual workshop concept for delivering technical training, outlines the basic mechanics of producing a virtual workshop, and offers tips for conducting effective workshops.
Kane, J. F.; Bailey, W. F. (2000). Virtual Workshops: Using Today's Networking Tools to Train Tomorrow's Experts. Energy Systems Laboratory (http://esl.tamu.edu). Available electronically from