Web-Based New Employee Technical Orientation
By Heidi Chang & Jee Park
Submitted January 26, 2001
Background and the Learning Problem
Cisco Systems, Inc. is one of the largest companies in the internet networking industry, and its pool of
employees steadily increases on a weekly basis. There are many types of new employees. Some
employees have actually worked for Cisco as contractors and have converted their status to full-time
employee. Other new employees come from companies that have been acquired by Cisco. Still others may
have no prior experience with Cisco. Regardless of their circumstance, these employees must rapidly
assimilate to their new jobs. In order to facilitate the assimilation of new employees into Cisco, the Human
Resources department conducts a four-hour orientation session every Monday. The New Employee
Orientation (NEO) provides the new employee with an overview about Cisco, including information about
job benefits, security, culture, and the regularly used technology. Unsurprisingly, there are several tools
that are essential for workflow and productivity at Cisco. This group of technology merits its own
orientation, the New Employee Technical Orientation (NETO).
The current NETO offered is a Video on Demand (VoD), which serves as an introduction to the core
technology employees use at Cisco. The VoD is accessible from the intranet and can be downloaded in
video or audio-only forms. The VoD also offers a set of slides that can be downloaded. Additionally, the
VoD allows the user to navigate through the video and select desired portions; it allows the user to follow a
non-linear, user-controlled path. Another feature of the VoD is its link to the intranet. The URL’s it
provides on the slides are live, and the user can access them immediately if desired.
The Information Technology Learning Group (iTLG) is responsible for the internal training at Cisco; they
developed and produced the VoD. The iTLG determined the VoD’s content by synthesizing survey results
and other information about the most common technically oriented questions asked by new hires. The VoD
is consequently organized as a series of frequently asked questions (FAQs). Members of the iTLG ask and
answer these questions in the VoD.
The VoD is not intended to be a thorough description of all items, but serves more as a survey of the most
important technologies that a new employee will need to use as a part of his or her job. It points the viewer
to appropriate URL’s or other resources that provide more detailed instruction or information as needed.
Although the VoD provides a stable way to get information, producing a video is costly and is difficult to
update. Furthermore, it offers little interaction and requires minimal action on the part of the user. Most
importantly, the VoD delivers information instead of fostering knowledge of the information.
One of the resources that the VoD recommends is the TRC/ITS (Technical Response Center/Internal
Technical Support) library. This library has detailed information about most of the technology used at
Cisco. Its documents are generally text descriptions that are viewable on the intranet. Updating and
maintaining these pages are huge tasks, especially in light of the rate at which technology changes.
Moreover, the directions in the library are usually step-by-step processes, which provide a systematic way
of solving the problem, but do not offer ways to learn how to prevent the problem from happening again.
Another resource available is the multimedia tutorial. Currently, there are several multimedia tutorials,
including ones for Eudora Pro, a supported e-mail software package, and Meeting Maker, a scheduling
groupware package. Both of these tutorials contain animations, sound, and video, but require little or no
interaction by the user. They simply show the user the steps required to use the software, but do not outline
the necessity or value of the software in the workplace or the importance of the individual employee’s role
in the use of the software. In particular, Meeting Maker is groupware, which means that the success of the
software is dependent on its use by all employees. This important fact, however, is never mentioned in the
tutorial. Also, these tutorials are Director files, which are also difficult and costly to edit and maintain.
Create a web-based NETO that teaches employees how to use common technology at Cisco. The NETO
invites user participation and interactivity through practice and assessment, and provides direct and
individualized instruction on the more cognitively challenging technology used at Cisco.
The NETO will use the Reusable Learning Object (RLO) strategy in order to facilitate the dynamic
updating of information as well as to fully leverage the information available within Cisco. The RLO
strategy calls for information to be chunked, categorized, tagged, and placed in a database that can be
shared by other course developers at Cisco. The categorization of information is particularly important to
course developers in that it provides scaffolding for structuring lessons. By providing each item with a
unique identification number, the work can be better leveraged by other groups who may want to use it.
Furthermore, the course developers can change information more quickly than with the current process,
which also helps them to provide employees with accurate information. This strategy therefore takes into
account and plans for the future inevitable changes in technology at the company.
Because of the varied prior knowledge of the new employees, it is essential for the user to have control of
the path they choose to follow through the NETO. The RLO strategy allows them to navigate, practice, and
assess as they wish. The NETO may include a pre-test or preliminary assessment of user needs, thereby
suggesting an initial path through the NETO based on the information collected. This will further
individualize the process.
The NETO will be delivered on a computer because its content pertains to tools and other technologies that
reside on or require the use of a computer. The learning experience is also individual in order to provide a
safe environment for failure. The employee can explore the NETO at his or her desired pace, self-regulate,
and remediate as needed. A web-based offering allows users to get immediate feedback on their progress.
Furthermore, employees will have the ability to access the course from anywhere, as long as they are
connected to the network. In this way, it also allows the user to access the course at his or her convenience.
It is the intention of this project to base design and learning decisions on current literature available on
relevant topics. Some considerations we will need to factor into our design given our partnership with
Cisco Systems are listed below.
Outstart’s Evolution will be the developer tool. Outstart is a company that develops training tools for
corporations. Cisco has hired this company to design a training developer tool that uses the Reusable
Learning Object strategy. The creation of this tool is intended to enable instructional designers to
develop web-based training for Cisco employees. Though the tool is defined, the method by which the
content will be taught and presented will be determined as the curriculum is developed.
Working within the context of the established organizational learning culture. Employees are
encouraged to attend conferences and to participate in training. They sign-up for courses on the
company’s registration system called Education Management System (EMS). Here, they can manage
their learning plans. Courses are taken and completed individually. Current organizational learning
practices will be considered in the design of NETO.
Rationale for NETO contents
A major part of the design process involved defining the problem. After conducting research at Cisco
about the information that already existed on the intranet and the resources available to learn the
technology needed to work, we were faced with our first guiding question, 1. How do we organize and
prioritize content? What factors should we consider? In starting to address this question, we realized that
the contents of the NETO fell into three distinct categories. One category contained “housekeeping” type
tasks, such as setting up voicemail, changing passwords, updating personal information on the
intranet’sdirectory. Another genre included tasks that could be completed or learned with a point in the
right direction. Cisco employees probably do not require detailed instruction on items such as filling out
expense reports and ordering hardware. These tasks are relatively self-explanatory once the employee has
arrived at the correct web page. The third category of content was distinct from the others in that it
included items that may require practice or further explanation in order to understand enough for use.
Tools such as Meeting Maker and Net Meeting are included in this group.
A few weeks after we had begun the project, we were made aware of another project that was occurring in
parallel to ours. This project was called the New Hire Checklist. A colleague of ours in North Carolina
was working on this and after talking to her about its scope, we determined that the first two
aforementioned categories of content were appropriate for her project. The NETO would therefore contain
just the third genre of content.
The purpose of the NETO is to help new employees get up to speed with the technology required to do
their jobs. In order to assess and design for their needs, participatory and user-centered design methods
will be employed.
1. How do we organize and prioritize content? What factors should we consider? This is related to what
we decided to include in the NETO and what topics are going to be put into the Checklist.
2. What multimedia tools are best for learning content in an organizational context?
3. Which theories support how content will be presented?
4. What is the value added by using technology and this format?
5. How will we know that they have actually learned from the NETO?
6. Is there a way to make this a more collaborative experience? Online mentors, buddies, volunteers,
community-building activities. Is there a way to get information on people who have been to the
NETO at the same time – in order to help with relationship building. Can we leverage the Stock
Human Resources conducted a survey of new employees who went through the four-hour New Employee
Orientation. Some of the information gathered in the survey is useful for the NETO and will be addressed
in the design of the NETO.
We will also conduct our own survey of new employees. This survey will help us determine the items in
the NETO that will be developed for the Masters Project. We plan to design and implement the segments
concerning the tools that new employees need to use immediately.
Expected Literature Review and Reading List
Instructional Design Models
Assessments of Multimedia Technology in Education: Bibliography
The Effectiveness Of Computer-Based Tools For Instruction
Two Instruments For Evaluating The Effectiveness Of Electronic Education Systems
Technology and Adult Learning: Current Perspectives
Principles of Adult Learning
Adult Learning: An Overview
Adult Learning Theory: A Resource Guide
Adult Learning: A Reader, Sutherland, Peter Ed.; 1997: Kogan Page, London.
Ginsburg, L. "Integrating Technology into Adult Learning." In Technology, Basic Skills, and Adult
Education: Getting Ready and Moving Forward, Information Series no. 372, edited by C. Hopey, pp. 37-
45. Columbus: ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult, Career, and Vocational Education, Center on Education and
Training for Employment, College of Education, The Ohio State University, 1998.
Technology and Adult Learning: Current Perspectives, Susan Imel, 1998 (ERIC Digest No. 197)
Kirkup, G. (1995, July). The importance of gender as a category in open and distance learning. Paper
presented at the conference Putting the Learner First: Learner-Centred Approaches in Open and Distance
Learning. Cambridge, UK.
Knowles, M.S. (1984). The adult learner: A neglected species. (3rd edition). Houston: Gulf.
Kolb, D. (1984). Experiential learning. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
MacKeracher, D. (1996). Making sense of adult learning. Toronto: Culture Concepts, Inc.
Information Technologies and Workplace Learning.
New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education n68 p75-85 Win 1995
Greg Kearsley & Ben Shneiderman, Engagement Theory: A framework for technology-based teaching and
University of Natal, South Africa; WWW and Adult Education
National-Louis University, Adult and Continuing Education
The Web: Design for Active Learning
Learning with the Internet: A Typology of Applications , Baumgartner, Peter ; Payr, Sabine Accession No:
ED428652, Publication: Austria; 1998-06-00
What Price Online Training?, Ganzel, Rebecca Accession No: EJ578962, Source: Training v36 n2 p50-54
Can You Keep Learners Online?
Training v37 n3 p64-66,68,70,72,74-75 Mar 2000
10 Things We Know So Far about Online Training.
Training v36 n11 p66-68,70,72,74 Nov 1999
Web-Based Distance Learning: A Tool for Change.
Journal of Instruction Delivery Systems v13 n2 p13-15 Spr 1999
Internet Based Learning: An Introduction and Framework for Higher Education and Business.
Distance Learning: Reach Out and Teach Someone.
Training and Development v52 n9 p28-32,34-36,38,40-41 Sep 1998
Distance Education Report v3 n17 p7 Sep 1, 1999
Barriers to Learning in Distance Education.
Interpersonal Computing and Technology v5 n3-4 p6-14 Oct-Dec 1997
Trends in Distance Learning: Lessons To Inform Practice.
Educational Media and Technology Yearbook v24 p11-16 1999
Distance Learning in a Changing Environment at Lucent Technologies.
Career Development International v3 n5 p194-98 1998
The Virtual Company: Toward a Self-Directed, Competence-Based Learning Environment in
Educational Technology v38 n1 p32-37 Jan-Feb 1998
Technology-Based Distance Learning: Present and Future Directions in Business and Education.
Journal of Educational Technology Systems v22 n3 p191-204 1993-94
Cisco E-Learning White Papers
The Roadmap to E-Learning -
Design Considerations in the Development and Delivery of Digital Learning Media, Brittain, Michael ;
Chambers, Mark ; Marriott, Philip; Accession No: ED428654, Publication: New Zealand; 1998-06-00
Cennamo, K.S., & Dawley, G.W. (1995). Designing interactive video materials for adult learners.
Performance and Instruction, 34(1), 14-19.
Programmed Instruction and Interactive Multimedia: A Third Consideration, Cruthirds, Jason ;
Hanna, Michael S.; Accession No: ED439464, Publication: U.S.; Alabama; 1997-00-00
Media Overload in Instructional Web Pages and the Impact on Learning, Hartley, Kendall W.
Accession No: EJ591605, Source: Educational Media International v36 n2 p145-50 Jun 1999
Schwier, R., & Misanchuk, E. (1993). Interactive multimedia instruction. Englewood Cliffs, NJ:
Educational Technology Publications.
Instructional Technology. [Concurrent Symposium Session at AHRD Annual Conference, 1997.]
Accession No: ED428199, Publication: U.S.; Nebraska; 1997-03-00
Technology's Place in Teaching and Learning.
School Business Affairs v64 n2 p4-8 Feb 1998
Trends in Media and Technology in Education and Training.
Educational Media and Technology Yearbook v23 p2-10 1998
University of Alberta, Academic Technologies for Learning
Knowledge Management Company built on ideas of Robert Horn
Web based trainings
Abbey, Beverly, Instructional and Cognitive Impacts of Web-Based Education, Idea Group Publishing,
Aggarwal, Anil, Web-Based Learning and Teaching Technologies: Opportunities and Challenges, Idea
Group Publishing, 2000.
Planning and Implementing Web-Based Instruction: Tools for Decision Analysis, Harmon, Stephen
W. ; Jones, Marshall G; Accession No: ED436171, Publication: U.S.; Georgia; 1999-02-00
Using Web-Based Training Wisely.
Training v36 n7 p51-56 Jul 1999
How to Pilot Web-Based Training.
Training and Development v52 n11 p44-49 Nov 1998
The business case for web-based training.
Communications Abstracts 23, no. 6 (2000)
Web-based training, performance and controlling
Journal of Network and Computer Applications 22, no. 1 (1999): 51
Designing for Interaction, Learner Control, and Feedback During Web-Based Learning.
Educational Technology v37 n3 p23-29 May-Jun 1997
The Power of the Internet for Learning: Final Report of Web-Based Education Commission -
Brown, Stephen and Seidner, Constance, Evaluating Corporate Training: Models and Issues, Kluwer
Academic Publishers, 1998.
Clark, R., Developing Technical Training: A Structured Approach for the Development of Classroom and
Computer-Based Instructional Materials, Performance Technology Press, 1989.
Phillips, J.J., Return on investment in training and performance improvement programs, Gulf Publishing
Co., Houston, TX, 1997.
Technology-Based Learning. Maximizing Human Performance and Corporate Success.
U.S.; Florida; 1999-00-00
Real ROI Numbers.
Training and Development Journal v53 n8 p51-52 Aug 1999
Return on Investment (ROI) for Electronic Performance Support Systems: A Web-Based System.
Educational Technology v38 n4 p15-21 Jul-Aug 1998
Learning at work - a combination of experience based learning and theoretical education
Behaviour and Information Technology 19, no. 3 (2000): 181-188
We will ask for volunteers to test the two offerings as they are available. These volunteers will be solicited
at the New Employee Orientations that occur on Mondays
Feedback from Experts
Cisco’s iTLG in San Jose, and Patrick Tse of Cisco’s Asia Pac IT group will be asked to review the design
of the two topics.
Joyce Vincenz and Roxanne ?? of TRC/ITS will be asked to review the topics with regard to the accuracy
of the technical content.
David Posner and Greg Brower of the iTLG in San Jose will help with the evaluation of the effectiveness of
the design. They will help us conduct a follow up study with users who have taken the offering. We will
also submit for feedback the design and incremental production to the consultants listed at the end of this
We will design, user test, redesign, and implement two of the six topics that will eventually become the
NETO. These two topics will be fully realized and evaluated for effectiveness
January 26, 2001 – Submit proposal to e-groups.
February 2, 2001 – Finish curriculum map and determine multimedia needs
February 10, 2001 – Design Review
February 24, 2001 – Get advisor’s approval
February 24, 2001 – Start production
March 19, 2001 – Start user testing
April 9, 2001 – Finish Redesign #1 based on user testing
April 23, 2001 – Finish user testing
May 7, 2001 – Finish Redesign #2 based on user testing
May 14-17, 2001 – Finishing touches
May 18, 2001 – Expo
May 19-24, 2001 – Finishing touches
May 25, 2001 – Final Project Due
Expected Budget Items
Hardware (fully loaded laptop and desktop for WBT devleopment)
Software: Developer tool, Evolution; license
User testing materials : testing space, video or digital camera, video tapes or disks, tripod, user tester
compensation, computers to access WBT, desks, chairs, extension cord
Compensation for Consultants
Compensation for WBT developers
Multimedia needs (i.e. outsourcing movie scenarios)
General materials: logbooks, pens, paper, photocopying, books
Spike Smith, iTLG, San Jose
Laurie Wayne, iTLG, San Jose
David Posner, iTLG, San Jose
Patrick Tse,IT, AsiaPac US
Courtney Snooks, iTLG, RTP
Greg Brower, iTLG, San Jose
Chuck Barritt, Reusable Learning Object Implementation, Internet Learning Solutions Group
Corliss Lee, Education Specialist, RLO Implementation Internet Learning Solutions Group
Joyce Vincentz, IT Project Manager, Global TRC
Roxann Schager, Knowledge Product Specialist, Global TRC
LDT Class 2001
Other Future Considerations
As this project gets fully underway, certain parts of our design process will appear in greater detail. In its
final version in May, the full proposal will include an abstract and reflections.