Selecting Distance Learning Technologies

I will be discussing the distance learning technologies that best meet the needs of the following example:

Asynchronous Training

In an effort to improve its poor safety record, a biodiesel manufacturing plant needs a series of safety training modules. These stand-alone modules must illustrate best practices on how to safely operate the many pieces of heavy machinery on the plant floor. The modules should involve step-by-step processes and the method of delivery needs to be available to all shifts at the plant. As well, the shift supervisors want to be sure the employees are engaged and can demonstrate their learning from the modules.

This type of training would benefit from a linear programmed instruction model of online delivery.  (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2009)  Organizing the instruction into content that is easily organized into concepts will help ensure that the students will learn all of the material.

Distance Learning Technology

In an asynchrounous environment prerecorded media is going to be very usefull in the learning process.


Video can show employees how to be safe through demonstrations that show proper safety techniques.  These videos can also show what can go wrong when employees are not following the safety guidelines.  Since there have been some accidents at the plant there is the possibility to put testemonials of what went wrong and the consequences for their actions.


To supplement the learning modules, guided safety tours could be taken while using podcasts.  (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2009)   Employees would tour the facility while listening to a podcast that guides them through safety concerns.  The podcast could cover general safety, and tool specific safety.  Allowing the learnner to move around, view the actual machines they will be working with and discover safety protocols will reinforce their learning.  Creating “… when new information is presented, it is important that it be as realistic as possible.”  (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2009)

Real World Examples


Shell uses podcasts to spread safety awareness to it’s employees, and as a reassurance to it’s customers.  The first podcast provides 12 safety rules to follow for keeping all staff and contractors safe.  Another podcast describes and encourages employees to be safety leaders within their work environment.  These podcasts provide learning opportunities for employees regardless of their location.


The FDA uses podcast to help educate people about issues of safety while using drugs in varying conditions.  The first podcast is about how Chantix may increase cardiovascular risk in certain patients.  Another podcast describes how abnormal heart rhythms may be associated with use of Zofran.  Some are meant for healthcare professionals and others for general use.

FDA logo

Eric Duffey


Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2009). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (4th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.