E-learning

by Geoff Allan

Common questions

 

1. Isn’t e-learning just another flavour of the month, like Computer Based Training and interactive video?

2. Can I do without e-learning?

3. It’s pretty expensive to get into, isn’t it?

4. Why should I use it?

5. Any disadvantages?

6. What is blended learning?

 

1. Isn’t e-learning just another flavour of the month, like Computer Based Training and interactive video?

It might be. Perhaps the biggest difference this time is that more of us have access to computers at work or at home, and use of the internet through broadband is widespread. Digital technology, too, plays an important part in e-learning, making it easy to produce or adapt material. Perhaps these factors will create the tipping point that stops e-learning being just the flavour of the month and makes it an inherent part of the move to life-long learning.

We have also learnt from past failures. Technology by itself is not enough. We must have a need and we must understand how people learn. If e-learning is poorly produced and we are not sure why we are using it, then it, too, may fail.

More...

2. Can I do without e-learning?

Possibly, but probably not. It depends on what you want to learn and when you want to learn it. Let’s imagine that you have a presentation to make to an important client. It’s over a year since you last made any sort of presentation, so you feel you need to update your PowerPoint skills. The next in-house course is several months away and, when you contact the various training providers, you discover that the soonest you can get a course is the beginning of next month. But that’s too late. As it happens, you find exactly what you need on the internet and so you spend 25 minutes getting some pointers for your task.

An e-learning package can provide learning whenever you need it, wherever you need it; it’s very much a just-in-time approach. It’s usually available in short modules – bite-sized pieces of learning that you can fit into your working day more easily than attending a course or workshop.

More...

3. It’s pretty expensive to get into, isn’t it?

How do you cost your training? In this example, you’ve decided that, as part of encouraging staff to be more commercially minded, you want everyone to be able to read and understand your internal finance reports. They’re quite straightforward profit-and-loss summaries. The finance staff have neither the time nor the skills to run workshops, so you need an external trainer. Bearing in mind the number of staff and the need to keep the business running, you decide to provide four half-day workshops. Your costs will include the trainer, staff time and, for some, travelling costs from your smaller branches that couldn’t justify their own workshops.

Alternatively, you could obtain an e-learning package, tailored to your organisation finance reports, a package that your staff could work on in short periods during the working day. Because they will be learning individually, they will proceed at different rates and will concentrate only those things they don’t already know. Your costs will be the cost of the package, plus any time you need to pay for cover for those staff who have no free time to study.

More...

4. Why should I use it?

There is no reason why you should use e-learning. What is more important is that you select a method that is appropriate to your needs, which in many cases may be e-learning. The advantages of good e-learning include

  • Flexibility – it can be available at any time and anywhere that has the necessary computer facilities
  • Large numbers of people can use it at the same time
  • Consistency and uniformity of delivery
  • Each session can also be personal in a way that is not possible in groups
  • An e-learning package can be used as often as you like for no extra cost
  • Reduced training delivery time
  • If a learning Management System (LMS) is used, then you will have the ability to keep track of the learning of each person in the organisation, automatically.

More...

5. Any disadvantages?

The most obvious disadvantages have to do with how e-learning is used within an organisation, and its availability:

  • An appropriate e-learning package may not be available
  • Effectiveness may be undermined by a lack of support, including discussions with other people
  • Some topics are relatively easily learnt in isolation where others demand group involvement
  • Some people are able better able to learn on their own than others.

More...

6. What is blended learning?

This term is commonly used as if it was unique to e-learning, but it is what good training has always done – used a variety of methods and technologies to achieve results. For example, someone learning presentation skills in a workshop environment may well have watched a video of a presentation, discussed how to construct one, produced a set of PowerPoint slides, given a presentation to fellow learners, and then received feedback on the effort. That mixture of approaches is called blended learning. It emphasises the point that an e-learning package may not be able to stand on its own.

More...