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Research on HR and Training Managers shift to online learning


New research by British Telecommunications plc and Futuremedia plc for Solstra, the net-based learning and knowledge management system, shows that HR and training managers still firmly favour traditional training methods, but see themselves making the massive leap to online learning within the next two years.

The research, which was conducted amongst 300 HR and training managers at large organisations (of mostly 500+ employees), was designed to assess the level of awareness and usage of distance learning methods, particularly attitudes towards online learning, and to discover how likely respondents might be to use online learning in the future.

Forty-seven percent of HR and training managers said they would be interested in using online learning during the next 12 months (that is training delivered via the Internet or corporate intranet direct to employee desktops). This figure increased to 67% when the time was extended to two years. However, with 81% of respondents overwhelmingly in agreement that they would have to know a lot more about online learning before considering it a viable option, results suggest that the next two years will see steep learning curves for those responsible for training, after which time online learning will come of age.

The research demonstrates that the obvious flexibility and convenience which online learning can bring to organisations is already understood, with 96% of respondents agreeing that online learning leaves employees free to carry out training courses at their own pace. More than three quarters acknowledged that it allows them to access training when and where they choose, as well as being an excellent means to deliver training material which can be tailored to meet an organisationís specific needs.

However, respondents are currently split on several factors, underlining the need for education and clarification. Forty-four percent did not know whether online learning would really be cheaper than their existing training methods, and were undecided about whether online learning is appropriate for their type of business.

Despite the evident intention to move to online learning, HR and training managers currently have reservations, with 65% worried that this method of learning would leave staff isolated. In addition, over half of the respondents thought that online learning would be unsuitable for group work and that it would not provide training and HR managers with the level of supervision and personal assistance that their training programmes require.

Colin Reith, Director of Commercial Training at BT Education & Training, said:
The reality is that online learning is a cost-effective method for organisations in all sectors to deliver learning direct to employee desktops. It is important that HR and training managers are now aware that sophisticated online learning systems, like Solstra, offer much more than a simple training delivery mechanism. Far from leaving employees isolated and working in a vacuum, interactive features allow for online discussion groups to be set up amongst people who normally wouldnít be able to get together. And advanced administrative capabilities mean that a management overview of training courses underway and completed is always available.

Mats Johansson, managing director of net-based learning at Futuremedia, said: Our research has proved that there is clearly a great need to help make HR and training managers aware of the benefits and potential of online learning, if they are to make the massive leap they themselves have predicted.

London, 17 September 1998

For further information on the research findings, please contact:
ZoÎ Steventon or Victoria Edwards
Scope Ketchum Communications
Tel: 0171-379 3234
Fax: 0171-836 4755
email: [email protected]


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