ERCIM News No.33 - April 1998

Using Information Technologies for Learning and Training in Industry

by Monique Grandbastien and Cyrille Desmoulins

The 'Computers and Education' research team of the LORIA in Nancy (a joint INRIA-CNRS-Universities of Nancy Laboratory) is working on methods, models and tools that allow the design computer-based learning environments. For professional training, the focus is currently on capturing and modelling corporate practices and experience and on using this specific know-how together with the available electronic documentation to design training environments. Training being a key factor for the competitiveness of industry, many changes in the working places lead to evolving needs in the training practices. The research aims at providing 'on the job environments' allowing on the job training using training materials that are directly derived from technical manuals enriched with corporate experience.

The LORIA 'Computers and Education' research team benefits from more than ten years of various partnerships with professionals from education and training departments. It was involved in the development of several products or prototypes. Main actors include one professor, two assistant-professors and several PhD and post-doc students. A first part of the research was completed from 1994 to 1997, in partnership with steel industry. Main results are described in the PhD thesis of Gaele Simon, including DOLMEN, a running prototype for corporate knowledge. A second phase should start in 1998 for a duration of 30 months, including both the use of electronic manuals and the capture of corporate experience for the design and implementation of training materials.

Methods and Techniques

As far as corporate knowledge is concerned, we propose a knowledge-based approach, and within available knowledge models and representations, we have built DOLMEN on a case-based representation. Cases are structures which are well suited to capture a past experience, case models can be as different as needed to allow a wide variety of descriptions. In our prototype, cases were defect descriptions that occurred during steel production. The retrieval phase of the case-based reasoning cycle is then easily used to retrieve the cases that could be useful for training. Our experience shows that it is necessary to keep in mind the training applications from the very beginning of the design of any corporate memory.

For electronic documents reuse, the idea is that no tool exists that allows to convert manuals into training material keeping information consistent and up to date. New versions of technical documentation are edited every month or even every week in companies, and they cannot be included at the same pace in the training materials. The aim of the research is to establish a set of methods and tools to allow a smooth shift from technical documents and corporate experience to on the job available training materials. The experimentation will be conducted with car repairing industry in France and possibly with other industrial and academic partners at the European level. More information including references can be found at CRIN/equipe/info-form/AN-index.html

Please contact:

Monique Grandbastien or Cyrille Desmoulins - LORIA/INRIA
Tel: +33 3 83 59 20 56/58
E-mail: {Monique.Grandbastien, Cyrille.Desmoulins}

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