Flexible Business Management

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To use, or not to use, e-learning …

In 1997, I remember computers were just beginning to come of age. More and more people had one … just the one … in their home and their office. They were the days of the CD ROM, and it was perhaps not really what many people wanted their training to look like. So it seems it has taken all that time for E-Learning to start to be seen as an acceptable learning format, and it has occurred with a huge increase in the development of technological devices.

Just look how far we have come in 17 years! Now, if you don’t have a mobile device, or two, as well as a computer or two, you are seen to have lost pace with the world. It has taken that long for some of us to be comfortable with technology … and maybe there are still some of use who aren’t? Now, more than ever, though, workplaces and individuals are starting to look at what this technology can be used for to assist to enhance their knowledge and skills and what benefits it can bring over other learning formats.

The age-old challenge with learning and development is how do you measure its success? In particular, how to you measure the benefits of technology and e-learning in the workplace over more traditional forms of learning?

Every learning format has its advantages and disadvantages depending on how it is implemented. What is needed is to ensure there is a point of balance. Contingencies must be put in place to ensure that any of the disadvantages are counteracted before learning begins.

E-learning has a number of obvious advantages:

  • Less time off the job
  • Less travel time and cost
  • Can be accessed any time and anywhere as long as you have an internet connection (study can be scheduled around work and family commitments)
  • You can work at your own pace
  • Discussion forums give access to other participants and learning coaches across vast geographical distances
  • e-learning encourages and develops more direct interaction with learning coaches and instructors
  • e-learning can accommodate different learning styles and facilitate learning through a variety of activities
  • It develops knowledge of computer and mobile technology
  • Successfully completing an online or computer-based course builds self-confidence and encourages participants to take responsibility of their own learning.
  • Participants have access to material they have already completed and can refer back to it at any time.

Potential disadvantages:

  • Participants may fall behind if they are not motivated and have low self-discipline or organisational skills
  • Participants may become confused without the structure and constant contact a classroom environment provides
  • Participants may feel isolated from the learning coach and other participants depending on the methods of communication available to them
  • The learning coach may not always be available at the exact time the participant requires assistance
  • A slow internet connection or older computers may make accessing the course materials frustrating
  • Managing computer files and online learning software can sometimes seem complex for participants with limited technology knowledge and skills.

E-learning isn’t for everyone or suitable for every situation. However, with the right combination of technology and support it can yield excellent results for participants and employers who are in an environment where e-learning would enhance their learning experience.

If you are not sure if e-learning would benefit your organisation, contact us to discuss your current situation. We can assist you to choose the best learning format for your specific needs.

 

Next week …..

“Turning your classroom course into an e-learning experience”