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QVC buys into online learning


QVC, the TV and internet shopping company, is using online learning courses to help meet staff development needs at its distribution and call centre operation on Merseyside.

“Having reviewed individual development plans, we realised we were facing increased demand for training resources,” said Andrew Smither, the QVC trainer behind the online initiative. “We needed to quickly meet the training needs that were coming out of the appraisals. Online courses were an ideal solution as they deliver bite-sized chunks of training and people can learn at their own pace.”

QVC has taken a combination of online courses, from Xebec McGraw-Hill and Harvard Business School Publishing, covering a broad range of skills such as people management, project management, customer service, innovation, business planning, teamwork, coaching and leadership. These are accessed via the company’s learning centre, at Knowsley Industrial Park, which also stocks a library of IT training resources on CD-Rom.

“The Xebec courses are very interactive, with great content, and they act like an online trainer giving constructive feedback,” said Andrew Smither. “Harvard has a worldwide reputation for management development and their online topics complement the Xebec courses. Xebec’s are aimed at middle and junior managers, whereas the Harvard resources are more of a refresher and reference for senior managers. Feedback on all courses has been very positive and we find that when people try one, they soon come back again to try another.”

QVC plans to integrate the online resources into its more traditional training programmes. The Harvard resources are already used to support QVC managers who are taking part in a one-year certificate in management programme, run in conjunction with Liverpool’s John Moores University.

“We’re now considering extending usage of the courses, to enable people to learn at their desktops,” said Andrew Smither. “This would offer real ‘just-in-time’ training because the courses would be instantly accessible and could be dipped into as and when required. Because the Harvard courses are aimed at more senior managers, they may help to kick-start the whole process of desktop learning from the top down.”

The Xebec McGraw-Hill and Harvard resources were recommended to QVC by ITS, a reseller of training support materials. Andrew Smither says the courses were initially assessed with the needs of trainers, the IT department and end users in mind.

“We looked for resources that matched our core competencies and the main developmental needs,” he said. “We tried to involve everyone at the outset to ensure the content was right and that the courses would run smoothly over our intranet.”

Course usage is currently monitored by an integrated administrator package, which was included with the Xebec courses. “We're keen to prove a return on investment and to ensure the courses are meeting staff developmental needs,” said Andrew Smither. “The ability to easily track course usage is highly beneficial.”

Free demos of five online learning courses from Xebec McGraw-Hill and four Harvard ‘ManageMentor’ topics can be sampled on Xebec’s website:


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