Siemens and its lifelong e-learning relationship

Enter
into an alliance with an e-learning provider as carefully as you would enter
into a marriage. That’s the advice Siemens’ performance development manager
Tony Smailes gives to John Robinson.

Electronics
and communications giant Siemens has placed 104 e-learning courses on its
intranet. The courses are divided into two categories, IT skills development
and telecoms technology, and have been made available initially to 1,000
employees in the company’s customer services division.

The
move was backed by the department last year by a £1m investment in instructors
and five new classrooms.

Tony
Smailes, performance development manager for customer services, says the fast
pace of change in the telecoms industry was the reason for adding e-learning to
other methods of training delivery.

"The
product training modules have grown phenomenally in recent years and, as a
result, it now takes far longer to educate staff via traditional means,"
he says.

In
choosing a supplier, Siemens obtained courseware samples from two e-learning
vendors and asked a cross-section of staff to download and trial material that
was deemed relevant to their job function. 

To
review the courses, the sample group was asked to consider a range of issues
including presentation, ease of use, perceived value, interactive qualities,
subject matter, testing procedures and relevance to individual learning
requirements.

Two
further stipulations – enough flexibility to allow third-party courses to be
integrated and an agreement which will ultimately enable Siemens to resell
courseware to their suppliers – were demanded of the supplier.

"When
you are looking to appoint an e-learning provider, you must choose the one that
is willing to establish and develop a relationship," advises Smailes.
"It is not an impulse purchase; what you are buying should amount to a
lifelong relationship.

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