ATD Blog

ASTD Excellence in Practice Awards for Learning Technology

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Excellence in Practice category recognizes organizations for results achieved through learning and performance solutions. Accomplishments will be recognized at two levels: 

  • Awards are presented to practices that have demonstrated clear and measurable results of achieving organizational goals, meet a demonstrated need, have appropriate design values, and are clearly aligned with other performance improvement initiatives.
  • Citation are presented to practices that have yet to demonstrate clear and measurable results, but that have strong evaluation plans, meet a demonstrated need, and have appropriate design values. Citation winners are encouraged to seek an Excellence in Practice Award in a subsequent year.

Here are this year’s Excellence in Practice Award winners in the Learning Technology category.

China Post Online Training College
China Post Group
Beijing, China

Shijiazhuang Sunnysky Software Technology Co. Ltd.
Shijiazhuang, China

China Post Group is a large network based enterprise, with 889,000 employees. In 2011, China Post Group entered the World Top 500 Enterprises. The postal enterprise experienced some major reforms in recent years that fundamentally changed its business structures and production processes. As a result, the company’s existing knowledge architecture and employees’ comprehensive competencies did not match the new service quality standards, seriously hindering the business development. The organization also faced other issues such as inadequate training resources, a work force scattered nationwide, and contradiction between working and learning functions.

In response, the Online Training College was upgraded in 2010 originating from the Online Distance Training Network established in 2005. The new system integrates key learning functions such as job training, professional skills certification, online degree education, examination and contests, knowledge sharing, consultation, and communication. It also offers comprehensive management functions in terms of faculty, resources, assessment and evaluation, and statistical analysis.

Since the practice was carried out in 2011, more than 819,000 employees have become registered users with 56,000 daily visits. The system offers nearly 6,000 hours of courses and provides 472 training programs. To date, more than 400,000 employees have participated in the online examinations and contests. A learning resource library with cases, e-books, and regulations is available and a professional expert group including 7,000 internal trainers and 230 consultants was established. As a result of the practice, the Online Training College has become a major platform to support corporate growth and employee career development.

Surface Warfare Simulation Training Assessment Process
Naval Education and Training Command’s Surface Warfare Officers School (SWOS )
Newport, Rhode Island

Naval Air Warfare Center, Training Systems Division
Orlando, Florida

UCLA, National Center for Research on Evaluation Standards and Student Testing (CRESST )
Los Angeles, California

Naval Education and Training Command’s Surface Warfare Officers School (SWOS) aims to provide quality instruction for each of its students. Its innovative ship handling, naval engineering, and combat systems tactical virtual learning technologies have been critical to achieving this vision. Recently SWOS discovered that its learning technologies were less than optimal in assessing student performance; therefore organizational leadership devised a strategy to improve its ability to provide properly trained officers to the U.S. Navy’s Fleet, its primary customer.

In response to this performance gap, SWOS created a strategy using rigorous assessment technology tools to provide meaningful student performance feedback and individually structured remediation. The organization collaborated with external partners to design, develop, and field cost-effective, credible, scientifically based intelligent tutoring systems (ITS) and assessment tools. These tools have the ability to accurately measure and assess a student’s skill level and overall proficiency. SWOS applied the Surface Warfare Simulation Training Assessment Process to the following learning technologies:

  • Conning Officer Virtual Environment Intelligent Tutoring System
  • Conning Officer Ship Handling Assessment Tool 
  • Tactical Action Officer Intelligent Tutoring System Learning Management System
  • Tactical Action Officer Assessment Tool
  • Readiness Control Officer Virtual Engineering Environment Strategy
  • Adaptive Training, Combat Information Center
  • Diagnostic, Automated Rapid Testing of Skills.

The cost-effective simulation assessment enhancements have resulted in greater instructor efficiencies, but more importantly have provided SWOS with the necessary tools to produce a more effectively trained and capable Surface Warfare Officer.

Here are this year’s Excellence in Practice Citation winners in the Learning Technology Category.


New Charity Service through E-Learning
Department of Civil Servant Development, Taipei City Government
Taipei, Republic of China (Taiwan)

Department of Social Welfare, Taipei City Government
Taipei, Republic of China (Taiwan)

As the host of large international events, the Taipei City Government addressed a need to recruit and train a high volume of volunteers over a short period of time. The New Charity Service through E-Learning program converts the previous 12-hour basic volunteer classroom course into an online class that includes the six sections of basic volunteer training required by the central government. The program allows volunteers to be trained with more consistency and in an efficient manner—anywhere, anytime. The new online format also reduces costs of paying classroom instructors. The Taipei City Government has realized an increase in the volunteer pool since the new training was implemented. To date, the program has trained 15,215 volunteers and saved the organization $1.13 million dollars.

Corporate Equity Benefits—Blended Education Center
E*TRADE FINANCIAL Corporate Services, Inc.
Alpharetta, Georgia

E*Trade Financial provides equity compensation administration solutions to companies world-wide. So when the organization moved from a software based benefits program to an online platform to better serve its clients, they discovered several challenges related to training content, design, delivery, and data collection. As a result, the company redesigned the content to allow smaller, more manageable learning components that can be delivered via e-learning as well as face-to-face/ virtual classrooms, allowing clients the flexibility to conveniently focus on specific training topics at no cost. They also designed a customized front-end education portal with a built in learning management system for clients with different roles and experience levels to easily locate and attend applicable training courses. The development of the program allowed E*Trade to attract and retain client relationships.

TechCEED team: Learning Beyond the Classroom
HCL Technologies Ltd.
Noida, India


The high cost of instructor led training coupled with time and geographical constraints prevented learning and development initiatives from reaching all employees at this global IT services company. Learning requirements were diverse, with different lines of businesses requiring varying sets of knowledge and skills for employees. The company was in need of an enterprise-wide, on-demand, self-paced solution. The 5-point strategy, “Learning Beyond the Classroom,” leverages technology with   

  • a blended learning approach that includes e-learning, online assessments, and virtual labs
  • automated training through a learning management system
  • online certification programs
  • the formalization of informal learning using a knowledge management portal, communities of practice, online seminars, online coaching, and an e-newsletter
  • instructional design for in-house content development.

Within just one year of implementation, the company has achieved more than 58 percent ROI, along with improved employee and customer satisfaction rates.

Student Response Systems
Naval Service Training Command’s Recruit Training Command
Great Lakes, Illinois

New employee orientation is grueling and involves the dissemination of information essential to understanding organization policies, procedures, and regulations; performing daily tasks; and maintaining safety in the workplace. While often mentally exhausted, students must quickly acclimate to the operating environment and prepare to contribute to mission goals immediately.

To improve learner engagement and retention a practice incorporating the use of student response systems (SRS) was implemented. It was designed to align with existing curriculum, use interactive technology, reinforce learning objectives through research proven questioning methods, and provide immediate feedback to instructors and students. Three studies have measured results of SRS implementation and showed: a 4.3 percent improvement in exam scores and a significant increase in instructor-student collaboration; SRS classrooms displayed a one letter higher grade average than non-SRS classrooms; and learning gains over non-SRS classrooms across various lesson topics. Initially a pilot program, SRS is now used throughout orientation training.

Online Learning
Population Services International
Washington, District of Columbia

Tasked with training more than 7,000 employees in 67 countries to achieve “90 percent use of trained skills,” and given a budget of US $50,000 to create a global LMS, this organization developed an online university using freeware modified by innovative college students. Prior to the launch of the online university the only training provided to global staff was instructor-led and usually hosted outside of country operations, making it costly both in travel time and financial terms. As a result, thousands of employees were ineligible to attend and were therefore lacking key knowledge and skills needed to maximize their effectiveness at work. Now, employees from around the globe access learning resources to meet their individual needs and develop their careers. To date more than 2,500 staff from 58 countries are enrolled and report supervisor-verified results of 93 percent use of trained skills and 97 percent priority challenges solved.

Synchronous Online Learning for Employee Product Training
Bridgewater, New Jersey

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Several hundred sales professionals needed to be trained in a very short timeframe due to massive shifts in the organization’s sales force structure, personnel, and product alignments. To meet this training imperative the learning team utilized an online meeting platform, virtual classroom training environments, and an interactive learning program. Training was implemented over a 10-day period and completely replaced the traditional live, onsite classroom training. Ninety-five percent of the target audience was fully trained and in the field by the deadline. Cost savings to the organization for this specific event were approximately USD $1.6 million. 

“My Courses”—Employee Competency Certification and Mapping
Shape Corp
Grand Haven, Michigan

To keep track of the certifications, skills, and abilities of a dispersed workforce, and to increase the ability of employees to advance in the company, the organization developed and implemented a learning management system that tracks skills and competencies by position and relays this to the employee through a simplified “My Courses” screen. Using this tool the employees can launch web-based trainings (WBT’s) and request instructor-led classes that are required for their position. In addition employees can select any position in the company and see which skills, competencies, and qualifications are required for the job and launch or request the corresponding courses. Centralizing the training function and providing employees with a skill competency framework as a blueprint for advancement has led to a 315 percent increase of internal applicants being selected for open positions. Annual employee morale surveys have consistently higher scores in areas of training and development and job satisfaction.

About the Author

The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is a professional membership organization supporting those who develop the knowledge and skills of employees in organizations around the world. The ATD Staff, along with a worldwide network of volunteers work to empower professionals to develop talent in the workplace.

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