Many companies are misallocating their e-learning budgets by falling down on two counts, says ICUS' Christiaan Heyning
Last year, European companies spent £224m on e-learning projects, with 50 per cent of that expenditure in the UK, according to figures from Enterprise Ireland, the Irish Government's trade and technology body.
Unfortunately, if past performance is anything to go by, much of the time and money spent on these projects is wasted. Not because e-learning is a useless hype, but because companies are falling into one, or sometimes two, traps.
Let's look at the first trap: spending money on technology without having proven the e-learning concept, usually by acquiring a Learning Management System (LMS). Not only does this often lead to companies buying technology that does not fit their needs, it raises the bar for judging e-learning since implementing an LMS can be highly disruptive and capital-intensive. Research firm Gartner has estimated that worldwide, firms waste as much as 20 per cent of the US$2.7 trillion spent annually on technology by buying software that does not fits their needs.
The second trap is to assume an e-learning implementation project is finished when the technology works, a consequence of focusing on the technical side of e-learning while neglecting the change management and communication aspects.
Both traps can be avoided. Use an LMS hosted by a specialist provider, at least for the duration of a pilot. This way, the energy - and money - can go into finding or developing relevant and engaging content, which can be used in a pilot to gauge user reaction and as a measure of how an organisation will react to a large-scale e-learning implementation.
The second trap can also be addressed but is trickier as it is largely culture-dependent. It is safe to say that most employees are already pressed for time so e-learning will have to compete with other business activities if it is to succeed. Employees must be convinced that the e-learning courses on offer are of benefit to them.
To achieve these two goals, companies must undertake a change management and communication campaign when implementing e-learning. This campaign should be targeted at the prospective learners as well as their managers. The managers, after all, will have to give the rewards and provide day-to-day stimulation and encouragement. Senior management must also be won over sin