e-learning marches on

Xerox
Europe has increased its e-learning five-fold since January 2003. Stephanie
Sparrow talks to Ian Sellars about the benefits of the virtual learning
environment

It
has become apparent that the critical success factor for e-learning is to
integrate it into the business. This means an organisation can then benefit
from being able to offer flexible delivery across multiple locations and have
the opportunity to manage and monitor learning.

Keen
to exploit these opportunities, Xerox Europe has increased its use of
e-learning five-fold since January 2003, because it is accessible to employees
and fully supported by senior managers, says its champion, Ian Sellars. As
manager for learning support services across the whole of the UK and Europe,
Sellars is responsible for delivering relevant e-learning.

“Our
market moves quickly and we are dependent on learning being deployed quickly
across Europe,” he says.

To
do this, Sellars has “removed barriers and room for excuses”.

For
example, learning is ‘free’ to employees because the virtual learning
environment is funded centrally, not re-charged to cost centres. “We don’t move
wooden dollars,” he says, adding that he recommends employees to enter
‘learning time’ in their diaries to ensure self-discipline.

Learning
delivery is facilitated by the Xerox Virtual Learning Environment (XVLE) – the
portal that delivers content and resources across the internet and through the
company’s intranet.

“We
are offering employees the opportunity to learn what they want and need, where
they want it and need it. This can be at the office or at home,” says Sellars.

Among
the library of learning materials at Xerox Europe are 1,000 generic titles
covering standard subjects such as IT and soft skills, bespoke titles developed
internally on subjects such as induction, and access to the Ashridge Virtual
College learning resource centre, which has management level titles.

“This
is important because senior managers are showing their buy-in by using this
material,” says Sellars.

One
of the many benefits of e-learning cited by Sellars is that XVLE can track
employees’ progress. If an employee fails a module, even by 1 per cent, they
are told to go back and repeat the module. When they pass, it is registered on
a personalised page called ‘my learning’.

For
a pan-European company, the XVLE is useful in overcoming language and cultural
barriers when delivering the same learning as it is available in the major
European languages and will soon be boosted by other mother tongues, such as
Romanian. The business language of Xerox Europe is English, but “the challenge
is to meet the preference of employees to learn in their mother tongue,” says
Sellars.

For
Sellars, who is about to launch compliance programmes in business ethics and
e-mail privacy, the XVLE is paramount in ensuring that such mandatory learning
is delivered to the same standard.  It will also be key in ensuring that
40 per cent of employees are trained to ‘yellow-belt level’ in the tools and principles
of the business process. known as Lean Six Sigma.

Underpinning
all this activity are Xerox Europe’s high-profile commitments to a learning
policy in which the company clearly sets out the key tasks and objectives of
the company, and those of employees and managerial staff.

Employees
are also being given their own ‘learning maps’, showing the learning they will
have to undertake in each role. This is an itemised route showing how
e-learning, distance learning, instructor-led training and experiential
learning will be used at each stage and is proof of how e-learning can be
viable in a blended (different media) mix.

As
people become more comfortable with the concept of the internet, they will
think more about online learning as a natural activity. “It helps them to
understand that ‘training is something done to me, learning I do for myself’,”
he says.

Inside
Xerox Europe


Xerox Europe is part of the multinational business solution and document
company, Xerox


Xerox Europe operates in 20 different countries and has around 15,000 employees


Its central training budget is in the region of £5.5m a year


It has 75 training staff based in the UK, near Reading, who are responsible for
all training initiatives including elearning

E-learning
pitfalls that HR should avoid

The
Ashridge Business School recently published E-learning Research: the Findings
and the Future, which found that 82 per cent of respondents regard e-learning
as difficult to introduce. Senior researcher Viki Holton offers this advice on
implementing e-learning, based on observations from the study of 45
organisations.

Don’t…


treat e-learning as a standalone initiative


make assumptions about computer literacy among the workforce


work in isolation from the rest of the business


work in isolation from your peers


be rushed into buying the most expensive products

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