Monday, October 07, 2013

Making E-Learning Work for You

As technology advances, e-learning continues to be a topic of discussion with respect to developing employees.  Have you and your organization considered including e-learning tools in your training and development mix?  This issue of Astronology considers e-learning and whether it’s worth the investment by your organization.
Elearn magazine conducted a survey in 2005 on the future of workplace e-learning.  At that time, they noted the following:
  • ·    “25% of respondents to this survey indicated that in 2004 e-learning was already the dominant form of training in their organization, while another 50% predicted that e-learning would become the dominant form of training within their organization by 2010."
  •      “30% of respondents felt that their organization would primarily focus on the delivery of e-learning.” 
  •       “80% of those surveyed responded that they were using e-learning or blended learning (face to face training combined with e-learning) to train their employees.” 
  •      “60% of those surveyed responded that their organization had a strategic plan for e-learning."
Fast forward almost 10 years, and it seems that these predictions haven’t quite come to fruition. E-learning is still growing in popularity.

With the promise e-learning holds, does this mean no more intimidating ice breakers and uncomfortable training rooms for face to face training? Are we approaching an era where training will be strictly done at your office desk or computer lab? Perhaps not. Note that, even almost a decade ago, the survey found that 80% respondents used a combined effort of e-learning and face to face training. Why this blend? There are some aspects to face to face training, crucial to the learner’s development, that e-learning simply cannot replicate. For instance, face to face training allows room for socializing, as well as trains employees to learn from each other, creating a team building environment.  While not insurmountable, these goals are more challenging to achieve in a strictly on-line environment.
E-Learning has its benefits and disadvantages. E-learning tools can track an employee’s progress, allowing management to see areas of weakness and to provide in-time feedback to foster growth.  In addition, e-learning can be quite cost effective as employees will not have to travel.  E-learning is usually flexible, to accommodate changes in workflow.
Some disadvantages of e-learning include motivation issues with learners who are conditioned to be more passive with online learning. Feelings of isolation during training can also result in lowered motivation. In addition, technology is a growing field, and as a result, when using e-learning tools, one runs the risk of dealing with technology issues. Poor internet connections, lost flash drives & forgotten data, and long software updates are but some of the issues you may experience with e-learning.  While some of these problems can be avoided, there’s always room for something odd to occur when using technology.

In addition, one most also consider the impact on the instructor when using e-learning tools.  For a prepackaged course, the “instructor” keeps track of course completions and pass rates.  If using social networking and educational tools in a synchronous or asynchronous environment, however, the class dynamics change.  As National Director Jennifer Loftus explains, “when using a tool such as BlackBoard or ZohoNotebook, it’s critical that the instructor read all the student posts or contributions, and engage the learners in on-line discussion.  Sometimes this can be more work than managing face to face class interactions.  To ensure the best learning environment for our course enrollees, however, instructors cannot use e-learning as an excuse for passivity.”

So what are some things you may have to consider if you’re thinking about including e-learning in your training? Trainingzone offers these suggestions:
  • ·     Equipment: How many employees do you plan to train simultaneously?  Do you have sufficient computers and internet bandwidth to support them? 
  •      Staff Computer Skills: Will employees need to spend time learning how to use the e-learning software? How long will this take? 
  •      Organization: When scheduling time for training, it’s important to include the time to set up the system, the running time of the e-learning, and then system shut down. This will leave room to make sure adequate resources are available.
E-learning is an exciting and growing human resources tool.  We here at Astronology would love to hear your success stories – or not so successful experiences – with e-learning!  Please share your stories with us!  And for those new to the e-learning world, why not consider mixing up both face to face training with e-learning to reap the benefits of both!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks you for that wonderful information you have bale to put in your blog.Distance learning really have good advantage for students to have a proper method of learning's specially in different school subjects.I found your website perfect for my needs. It contains wonderful and helpful posts.
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