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Don’t use e-learning just to save costs! – CIPD research


The CIPD has released the results of research on e-learning success. These will surprise nobody:

"Making generic e-learning products available to unsupported volunteer learners might deliver training budget cost savings, but it does not advance learning in the organisation," according to Martyn Sloman, the author of E-learning, The learning Curve, a study of ten organisations who are committed to e-learning... "There is no universal blueprint for e-learning and every organisation needs to progress along its own learning curve in order to make it work."

Six areas were identified as needing specific attention in the design and implementation process, these were:
* strategic intent
* introducing the system
* blended learning
* content
* supporting the learner
* measurement and monitoring

Main findings

* E-learning should be regarded as a change initiative, not as a way of making short-term savings.

* E-learning has to be driven by training, not technology. Training experts need to have faith in their own knowledge.

* There is a choice to be made between introducing e-learning as part of a significant shift in approach to learning and proceeding through a controlled pilot project.

* The proportion of staff who regularly use a computer at work is a critical factor to be considered in the design of any e-learning initiative. The sophistication of these computers and any restrictions on their use must also be taken into consideration.

* Appropriate strategies must be developed for employees who do not have the necessary skills to use computers, such as promoting the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL).

* There may be merit in making an open facility for staff (and their families) to access e-learning, but this should be undertaken to demonstrate a commitment to learning rather than as a way of gaining immediate business benefits.

* Blended learning is seen by many as a process in which appropriate e-learning modules are a precursor to a training session in the classroom.

* Generic off-the-shelf material is most useful for IT end-users or in IT specialist applications.

* Generic soft-skills material will require careful selection and quality checks to test its relevance and appropriateness for the organisation. Even then it may be most effective in a blended solution involving face-to-face training.

* There is considerable interest in the generation of bespoke or customised material – either in-house through the use of an authoring system or by commissioning it from a specialist software supplier. Ease of updating content and monitoring of usage are critical factors.

* Bespoke material is often created to meet essential business needs (compulsory training). Other popular topics are performance appraisal, standard procedures and induction.

* Learners should be given the opportunity to carry out e-learning in chunks of time that suit them. Some people may like to work in a concentrated manner and complete a whole programme at one sitting, while others may wish to complete the programme over several sessions.

* Online learning is more easily accepted in a culture of trust and empowerment, rather than in a culture where managers react against the idea of people being allowed to organise their own time and work schedules.

* Smaller organisations should enter into partnership over the running of online learning programmes so as to achieve maximum economies of scale and other benefits.

* Learning resource centres are seen as a useful facility, especially where a significant number of employees do not regularly use a personal computer at work.

* If a learning resource centre is intended to serve a population which includes those who are not regular users of personal computers, on-site facilitation is essential.

If these revelations aren't enough for you, you can access the full report on the CIPD website.


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