E-learning curve

first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. E-learning’s hey-day may well be over, but despite scepticism about its truemerits, it can still be a valuable addition to company training programmes.Caroline Horn reportsOnce regarded as the panacea to all training needs, companies are now takinga much more measured and realistic approach to e-learning. After a period ofrapid growth, the uptake of e-learning has reached a plateau, and there isconsiderably more scepticism about what it can actually achieve. But while e-learning may not be able to deliver everything trainers dreamedof in the early days, it can make a valuable contribution to company trainingprogrammes. Ian Webster, head of e-learning at Accenture HR Services, says itis good for importing knowledge over a large customer/user base, and fordelivering material that does not require contact with machinery or people. Buthe adds that companies need to think carefully about how best to deliver suchprogrammes. Like any other kind of learning, the content of an e-learning programmewill, be driven by the company’s training priorities and business needs, and itis crucial that the designer of the e-learning programme understands these.Many companies once settled for generic, off- the-shelf training packages, butresearch by the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD):E-learning, The Learning Curve indicates that bespoke software developed tosuit a corporate’s needs delivers better results. Marketing e-learning It is also crucial to obtain the right design in terms of technicalinfrastructure. It is easy to get carried away by the latest gizmos, only todiscover that your company’s PCs aren’t powerful enough to use them, or that noteveryone is linked with the company intranet. The CIPD study shows that motivation and support are key to ensuring ane-learning programme’s success, but many employers are still surprised to findthat they need to ‘sell’ the programme to employees. Marketing consultancy TheChurch Agency, argues that companies should be looking to market e-learningprogrammes in the same way as they would a product or service to theircustomers, with ongoing communications including e-mail bulletins and updates,direct mail and face-to-face briefings. Programmes that deliver highly personalised content will help to engage theuser, but one-to-one contact might also still be required. In an ideal world,an e-learning model will be backed up with a local trainer, by ‘phone contact,or in ‘virtual’ discussion groups. BT Broadcast Services is developing videotechnology so that companies can broadcast live events onto people’s desktops.This facility can be integrated into structured training to the point where itwill offer a ‘virtual classroom’ as part of a course. Part of the working day Delivering e-learning successfully will also depend on the capabilities ofthose involved in the programme. Webster says: “If some people havedifficulty using e-learning and you haven’t connected with them after 15minutes, then forget it.” Car manufacturing firm VW overcame this problem by encouraging all its staffto become internet-savvy says David Birchall, director of learning and teachingservices at Henley Management College. It is also important that people have time for e-learning, and to have thataccepted as an important part of the working day by line managers. 3M gives itsmanagers free time for ‘blue sky’ thinking, or when they need to tackle issuesaway from the job, which emphasises corporate support for learning. Deciding who takes responsibility for training will vary per company, saysWebster. “You need someone at the top to engender the culture of learning,but at a local level, it could be someone in the operational unit.” As well as championing the programme, HR may also be responsible for othertasks, such as ensuring its smooth operation and providing regular programmeupdates, collating staff feedback . Evaluating the effectiveness of e-learning can be tricky, although companiescan check the pass rates of those who have participated in the programme andask people to complete online feedback forms. The programme’s success can also be measured against goals agreed at theoutset, relating to whether people are doing their jobs better in terms ofincreased sales, etc, although this is no different to any other kind oftraining scheme. Case study: BarclaysBarclays had a series of disparateleadership programmes that it wanted to bring together under one umbrella, andit decided e-learning would form a large element of that programme. Paul Rudd,business development director for Barclays University, says: “Theadvantage of e-learning is that it is accessible when people want to use it andthey can immediately put what they have learned into practice.”The company designed a programme that was 80 per cente-learning. Parts of the programme were ideally suited to e-learning – forexample, providing small ‘nuggets’ of information that individuals can use as andwhen they need them, perhaps before going into meetings with difficult membersof staff. But the company recognised there are facets of management, such ascoaching and mentoring, that do not easily fit into e-learning.Therefore, Rudd wanted the programme to include other elementsto help bring what was learned to life, and felt that dialogue was key. Linemanagers, for example, act as coaches when people have completed an e-learningcourse, to discuss how the theories that have been learned could impact locally.Barclays’ research had also shown that work-place e-learning isnot always effective because of constant interruptions, so the company formed apartnership with Learn Direct, offering staff a network of regional learningcentres away from the workplace where they have the space and time to learn.The company also ensured that all staff were informed of theprogramme, using The Church Agency to communicate the learning facilities andbenefits to staff. Comments are closed. E-learning curveOn 22 Jul 2003 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Articlelast_img

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