-6. Can your employees really learn with e-learning?

- Yes, research shows that e-learning works just as well as classroom learning.

- Some things can be more effective when done in a classroom environment.

- You can use e-learning to teach almost anything that a business needs to teach.

Tell Me More

Research studies sponsored by businesses and universities indicate that e-learning works about as well as classroom learning. (That doesn't mean that classroom learning was ever 100 percent effective, of course.) But it's good to know that education quality need not degrade as you move to e-learning.

Now it's true that, in specific cases, you'll have employees who will find it difficult to learn in an e-learning environment— just as some people have problems with virtual meetings over the phone. Usually, this is a small percentage of your employee population.

So, your expectations should be that e-learning can handle essentially the same training work as classroom learning. But while you can teach almost anything with e-learning that you can in the classroom, there are still a few constraints you'll need to use your judgment about. Some learning situations lose a lot of effectiveness without face-to-face interaction. For example:

- Exercises in a "learning to negotiate" course are much more effective if the instructor is in the same physical space as the student. The same goes for some of the workshop exercises of sales training. Or anything else that really demands one-on-one, face-to-face interaction.

- Lab exercises for some tasks need access to the real hardware. A student can learn to repair a copier or learn to change a tire more effectively if she can physically manipulate the item.

Now that doesn't mean that e-learning can never be used in these situations. It only means that you'll have to take extra care when you want to apply e-learning to them. You might be faced with a situation where you simply can't get the students into the classroom—then you'll have to decide whether you can live with the partial results that e-learning might give you.

-7. What does it mean to think of e-learning as a business tool?

- What we're talking about in this book is not knowledge for the sake of knowledge. We're talking about knowledge and skills for the sake of your business.

- This is not the university environment, or even the secondary-school environment. This is training aimed at supporting the goals of your business.

Tell Me More

Thinking of learning as a business tool that can help improve the bottom line is a different perspective from thinking about learning in a university context or even about learning as self-improvement for an individual. This is not knowledge for the sake of knowledge. This is knowledge and skills for the sake of business. For example: It's not learning Ancient Greek or learning to play the piano. It is learning C++ because your employees need it on the job. It's learning negotiating skills because your employees need them on the job.

When thought of as a business tool, learning has to serve the needs of that business. It's critically important, then, to:

- Shape learning in a specific business direction.

- Shape learning to a specific level of proficiency.

- Shape learning within a specific timeframe.

In short, the measure of success is not whether the student learned something. The measure of success if whether it makes a difference to your business.

-8. Is your company a good candidate for using e-learning?

It's safe to say that, in the long term, from five to ten years, all companies are good candidates for using e-learning.

In the short term, from right now to a year or so from now, you have to think about whether your company's training situations are a good fit with today's strengths of e-learning.

Tell Me More

The following table can help you determine if your company could immediately use e-learning in an effective manner.

Question

Response

1. Do you need to train a geographically dispersed work force with employees in many different cities or countries?

YES: You could get people from different geographic locations together for "virtual" learning

experiences with e-learning.

2. Do you have company programs or initiatives that often require many employees to learn new things in a short period of time?

YES: You could use e-learning to get training dispersed to employees very quickly, without waiting for a face-to-face meeting.

3. Do you expect many of your employees to regularly engage in lots of training experiences?

YES: Many employees find it better to learn at their own convenience.

4. Is your workforce connected to the Internet or to an intranet within the company?

YES: You could start to use e-learning because the distribution infrastructure is already in place.

5. Does your company compete for talent with other companies?

YES: A strong e-learning program could be valuable to help you retain talented individuals.

6. Are you looking to reduce the cost of classroom training?

YES: You could start to look at e-learning for cost savings, especially for travel expenses.

7. Are you are looking for more flexible and higher quality learning experiences for your employees?

YES: You could use e-learning to provide learning approaches that are not possible in a typical classroom setting. For example: learning in bite-size pieces over a period of weeks, learning at a time that is convenient for the student, learning that has collaboration with students from all over the world.

8. Does your company sell products/services that require your employees to constantly learn new things to keep up to speed? For example, engineers in a high-tech company will always need to be learning to keep up with the ever-progressing state of the art.

YES: You can use e-learning to help employees keep themselves up to speed on your company's products and services. E-learning "events" could be regularly scheduled or available on demand.

9. Are your company's product cycles shortening and does the project training time need to be shortened as well?

YES: You can use e-learning to train more people in a shorter amount of time than you could roll through a series of traditional classroom courses.

 
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