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Company profile:ebc


Manchester and Milton Keynes-based ebc have been producing video-based training since the early 1990's. Last year, the company took the decision to move away from video to internet and CDROM formats, launching into the e-learning market. CEO Jonathan Satchell, who bought the company in 1997, spoke to TrainingZONE about the company's new strategy.

TrainingZONE: First of all, why e-learning?

Jonathan Satchell: The main advantage of e-leaning is the ‘any time, any place, anywhere’ factor it provides (known as the Martini effect). E-learning represents convenience for the learner, as they can access the information when and where they wish. E-learning is ideally suited for teaching processes and acquiring knowledge. However, unlike many other e-learning developers, ebc recognises the restrictions of e-learning and realises that it is not the best way to teach soft skills. In this case, e-learning must be backed up by other methods of training, which provide better opportunities to practice soft skills.

TrainingZONE: Why has the video training market become less important?

Jonathan Satchell: With video training, there is a serious lack of control over the interactive side of learning. A TV screen can provide the learner with facts, knowledge and insight, but the nature of the medium does not allow for interaction or practice. Video training does not allow for instant access to the material. If something is inconvenient, there is a strong chance that the learner will be deterred from taking part. Video training is unmonitorable, in that it is impossible to track the learner’s progress. The technology involved in e-learning automatically gathers information regarding what the learner has taken from the learning experience. The designer can also monitor which approach works and which does not. These results can dictate the next stage of e-learning design.

TrainingZONE: Do you think e-learning is going to benefit SMEs and if so how?

Jonathan Satchell: E-learning reduces training costs for SMEs, and provides improved accessibility to learning for SMEs who cannot afford to sacrifice the time needed for effective classroom based training.

TrainingZONE: Do you think that conflicting platforms pose a problem to those working in the e-learning field and those who are looking to buy into it?

Jonathan Satchell: ebc believes that the web is a great leveller of technical problems. There are currently many different e-learning services on offer, however industry standards are still in the process of being defined. ebc hopes that SCORM (which stands for Shareable Courseware Object Reference Model - an emerging standard for e-learning content) will make a big difference to the integration of learning content with learning management infrastructure. Ultimately this will enable the learner to 'build' their own courses from individual learning
objects from different sources.

TrainingZONE: How do you see the future for classroom training?

Jonathan Satchell: ebc believes that the future of classroom training is vibrant and more effective than ever. E-learning cannot, and should not even attempt to replace instructor led training. An e-learning programme makes sure that all learners have the required knowledge before they put this into practise in a group based situation. E-learning also allows the trainer to assess the existing level of knowledge and ability among the learners and find the common denominator. E-learning will enhance classroom training and should be considered as part of a blended approach to learning.

TrainingZONE: What are your predictions for the market in e-learning over the next year?

Jonathan Satchell: Companies will recognise that e-learning is a powerful and efficient training method, which needs to be blended into the training process. Questions will be raised about the effectiveness of generic e-learning content. The UK custom content e-learning market will be worth at least £80 million over the next twelve months. This market will continue to grow as custom content e-learning programmes will prove themselves to be an affordable and effective training method, and one to which employees can relate. E-learning is still a young industry and in many ways is only just beginning. ebc predicts that in the near future, every major corporation in the UK and Europe will deploy some form of e-learning solution.

TrainingZONE: What’s different about ebc?

Jonathan Satchell: ebc is not purely a web design company which has jumped on the e-learning band wagon. The company has nine years experience in distance learning design, having previously been the most prolific producer of video and workbook based soft skills and management training material in the UK. ebc’s approach to e-learning focuses on learning outcomes, not just web design. The company concentrates on the client’s learning objectives, on the message not the medium. We has built up a team of 20 specialist web developers over the past two years, who have been immersed into the learning culture, which exists at ebc. In my view, ebc remains at the leading edge of technology. Our programmes are innovative in their use of software and constantly aim to stretch those tools to the limit.

ebc are co-hosting the e-learning event being held in Manchester on 24-25 April. For more details visit


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