Professional dilemmas

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you have an e-learning problem? Then ask our experts to find a solution. E-mail
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Q:
We are about to invest in e-learning, but are worried that much of the content is
too generic for our needs. Our budget won’t stretch to bespoke courseware. What
should we do?

A:
This is a very common problem faced by trainers on ever decreasing budgets.
Off-the-shelf courseware is cost-effective, but to what degree can it truly reflect
issues in your organisation? It largely depends how you plan to use it.

Some
vendors will customise content – from simple rebranding with your logo to
re-shooting videos on your site. This has cost implications, so lets look at it
another way.

The
people who really understand your organisation are those in your organisation.
Use their knowledge to ‘un-generify’ course content. E-learning is more than
just a course on a network, it’s a network of learners who collaborate and
share – an opportunity to discuss the principles learnt and see how they apply
to your organisation. Look to the wider business for e-mentors who could offer
their corporate thoughts on the topic. Consider using your experienced trainers
as e-tutors to manage e-learning and initiate activities that transfer the
learning to the workplace.

Of
course, the ‘blended’ approach is very much the rage at the moment and provides
an excellent way of building on knowledge gained online. Blending involves
human interaction and could be as straightforward as the learner discussing key
learning points with their manager. It’s also about integration and if an
e-learning course really is linked to existing training, issues of relevance
are easily overcome.

A
simple approach may also be the introduction of informal workshops around the
generic material. This has become such a popular concept, Xebec McGraw Hill has
produced a range of facilitators’ guides to surround its core titles.

There
is, of course, something to be said for looking at learning in other
industries: a team-working scenario in a design company may give you a new
perspective on team-working in your retail organisation.

Response
provided by Martine Garland, freelance e-learning consultant.

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