Coming together

Collaboration is the blueprint for e-learning success but it will only
happen in the public sector, says martin Baker

Six UK charities are currently working together in a consortium to share the
cost and benefits of e-learning. This alliance has benefits that are applicable
to all organisations. But let’s be honest – the private sector will ignore the

A consortium is effectively a specific user group for a specific industry
sector. Consortium members gain obvious advantages: they can pool resources,
spread risk and gain access to a wider range of suppliers and e-learning

For some organisations, such as charities, the consortium idea provides a
cost-effective entry route into e-learning. By joining together, members have
greater buying power. They also create a common e-learning community, which
means they can share best practice and run regular tailored workshops
highlighting issues such as the internal marketing of e-learning and evaluation
of the return on investment.

These benefits will be shunned by private sector companies as competitive
rivalries will always prevent them from sharing information that would be of
mutual value. This is a shame as the Government has stressed the need to
improve the skills base of UK plc. The consortium approach offers a very
practical solution, which could provide a broad range of high-quality,
consistent training.

However, there is nothing to stop public sector organisations – such as
government departments and agencies, local authorities, NHS trusts, healthcare
teams and emergency service providers – from taking the consortium plunge.

All they need to do is hook up with relevant suppliers that can provide the
appropriate range of IT and business skills resources that meet the needs of
the combined target audience. These resources should be made available through
a hosted learning management system, flexible enough to allow each organisation
to have their own personalised e-learning web portal.

Consortium members do not need to have the technical infrastructure in place
to support e-learning because the e-learning content is hosted externally.
Instead, users access e-learning resources via the internet.

Those that manage to set up effective links with like-minded firms will soon
notice the benefits: an improvement in the skills and motivation of individuals
who are able to learn online at their own time and pace; a saving in the time
and travel costs of face-to-face training and an improvement in the performance
of the organisation. The private sector’s loss could be the public sector’s

Martin Baker is a director of e-learning provider Jenison Interactive
Training, which instigated the charity consortium for e-learning.

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