Your guide to e-learning: Troubleshooter

Questions
and answers on e-learning

Q:
We have invested a significant amount of money in developing an e-learning
solution but the take-up from our employees has been limited. How can I stop
our e-learning project becoming a ‘white elephant’?

A:
E-learning can clearly benefit the bottom line but you must get buy-in from the
people who will be using it. When considering return on investment for
e-learning, a huge assumption that is often made is that you will get 100%
enrolment.

A
study by the American Society of Training Development in 2000 showed that even
when e-learning is mandatory only about 69% of people started an online course.

You
should seriously consider allocating a portion of your e-learning budget to
marketing and promotion – even as much as 20%. This is a new approach and as
with all training programmes you will need to generate positive awareness to
get people to buy into the concept and get “‘bums on seats” at an early stage
and increase their numbers over time.

Q:
How do i get the IT/MIS department to buy into our e-learning programme?

A:
It is important that your company’s IT/MIS department is not left to set the
pace and make unilateral decisions with regard to your company’s e-learning
programme. It is equally important that the IT/MIS department is consulted from
an early stage. You will save yourself much time and frustration by making your
IT managers aware of your implementation plans and the various technologies you
are considering from the start of the project.

Your
IT department will generally be concerned about two aspects of your e-learning
plans:


Will the workload for the IT support team increase inordinately?


Will the existing IT infrastructure be able to support the new initiative
without performance becoming degraded?

You
should take both of these concerns into account when reviewing the options
available to you. Be prepared to set aside some additional budget for upgrading
existing IT systems and/or hiring additional IT support staff should that prove
necessary.

Opting
for an ASP solution rather than an in-house Learning Management System can
potentially lessen the burden on your IT team. Be aware though that there may
still be issues with rolling out Internet access to all the participants in the
scheme and with reconfiguring the corporate firewall, so you should still
consult your IT department, even if this is your favoured implementation for
your e-learning initiative.

Q:
What implication does e-learning hold for our classroom-based trainers and how
can they get involved?

A:
While there are many classroom trainers at the forefront of e-learning
innovation and practice, there are others that regard e-learning as a possible
threat and a limited replacement for classroom instruction.

The
instructional expertise of your trainers must be employed as early as possible
in the e-learning process. Their involvement will help to determine the best
use of new technologies and approaches while offsetting some of the cultural
resistance.

Classroom
trainers will need to learn how to operate effectively in an online
environment. Online components such as assessments, threaded discussions and
virtual classrooms have nuances of functionality, communication and process
that will need to be understood.

A
suggested approach is to assign individuals to evaluate and master specific
tools and techniques and for them to train the other trainers.

Individual
trainers should look to start simple and gradually introduce appropriate online
components, but only when they can add value and effectiveness to the learning
process.

Here
are some tips for making it happen:


Develop high-impact initiatives at the front end that will generate high
awareness. First impressions last and if the first e-learning initiative set-up
is a dry, page-turning experience, the challenge of selling e-learning
downstream is made all the more difficult. For example, you may want to begin
with a virtual classroom event involving senior managers and external experts.


Select one or more e-learning evangelists, who are actively involved in getting
the word out in a positive way. The more senior the individual the greater the
PR for your e-learning programmes.


Have a launch event and if possible create a brand for your e-learning
programmes to raise profile and identification. Develop flyers that you can
hand out and distribute around the building and free T-shirts and baseball caps
are always a winner.


Run breakfast meetings or informal lunches to run demonstrations and present
the concepts of e-learning. Use these events to get people excited and to plant
the seed of imagination as to how e-learning could be used.


Gain permission to use the company e-mail system to promote the programme,
highlighting new courses, successes and also to push people toward events such
as the breakfast meetings.


Create fun ways to identify that someone is learning at their desk. Desktop
learning is often plagued by interruptions, so a visible symbol of learning is
useful.


Create incentive programs that recognise completion and achievement whether
this is through certificates, awards or coverage in a company newsletter.


Set up programmes to garner constant feedback, whether this is using online
forms or even a specific feedback e-mail address, you must look for ways to
refine and progress.

Your
guide to e-learning was published with Personnel Today on 3 April 2001. Written
by Paul English of Futuremedia Plc. Contibutors: Laurence Scotford, Chris
Robinson, Kay Philips

Comments are closed.