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A vision of future retail induction – Vodafone's new e-learning initiative

Learning NewsBYG Systems

Induction training in a virtual reality Head Office. Practising customer service skills in a virtual store. Talking to other trainees in a internet café on your PC. Previously a training manager’s vision of the future, these are to become an essential part of induction for store staff at Vodafone Retail.

A new e-learning application developed for Vodafone by BYG Systems is enabling Vodafone store staff to complete their entire induction in a VR town, known as 'Vodatown'. The CD-Rom based application is being rolled out to all 260 stores, and replaces 3 days of classroom based training.

'Vodatown' is one of the most innovative e-learning applications around today. Training modules are represented by different buildings, including Internet Café, Head Office, Vodafone Store, Personal Development and Learning Zone. Users can 'walk around' the town square and enter buildings with a click of the mouse. Inside the buildings are interactive rooms, featuring subsections on topics such as 'Cellular Technology' and 'Understanding contracts'.

Users experience the maximum amount of interaction, including voiceover, symbol aided navigation, a jargon buster, sound effects and video. A knowledge management system sits behind the fun façade, monitoring user progress and providing assessment through quizzes at the end of each section. Stuart Kruse, Instructional Designer at BYG Systems explains how the design assists the learning process:

"Excellent training is immersive, challenging and fun, putting the user in control. These qualities have been successfully combined in the 'virtual town' concept used in the Vodafone e-learning. High quality multimedia draws the user into a fun virtual environment, where they are encouraged to make their own way through the material. The training becomes a fun, rewarding experience, leading to accelerated learning and improvements in student motivation."

Vodafone will reap a number of benefits from the application, which will pay for itself in just one year. Hundreds of new starters will be trained via the e-learning application, which has been developed as part of a long term commitment to multimedia technology. Nigel Amphlett, Training and Development Manager for Vodafone Retail comments:

"Vodafone is a technically forward thinking company and the Retail Induction Program is part of our commitment over the next 3 ½ years to delivering 60% of our training via this technology. Multimedia is a very cost effective, logistically sound training medium, and the state of the art, sophisticated 'Vodatown' application developed by BYG, is comparable with our status as the leading telecommunications company. "