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The state of the e-learning market – Learning Technologies featured interview


As part of our preview of the Learning Technologies exhibition and conference (29 and 30 January 2003 at Olympia 2, London), we talked to conference panel speaker Andy Wooler (Manager, Learning Management Systems, Royal & Sun Alliance) about the place of e-learning in corporate training today.

What do you see as the growth ares of e-learning for the near future?

Learning that directly links to business goals - in the current climate, it's not enough to simply present 1000 off the shelf courses and call it an on-line corporate university - many ROI cases rely on the assumption that the training was going to take place anyway and that's not always the case!

Where a genuine business issue is being addressed, the case for a learning intervention is much stronger, whether its an "e" solution or traditional classroom.

What kind of e-learning providers will thrive in this market?

Providers that can enable more content to be created in-house will be better placed - the average cost per hour of bespoke on-line delivered materials can be high using external vendors. Vendors who make it easier for clients to create and deploy their own content ought to thrive!

What kind of learning organisations are best placed to make use of e-learning?

I believe that organisations who operate in a regulated environment will be well placed to take advantage of e-learning - the fact that training and assessment are a fact of life in such industries as Financial Services and Pharmaceuticals should lead to better take up and completion of any learning initiatives, not just "e".

How can e-learning become more assimilated into conventional methods?

The question here is: What is conventional learning anyway? Blended learning, as we now know it, is not new - as an example, the Open University in the UK has been doing this for over 20 years! The use of browser based technology is just another tool to be used alongside existing blended approaches.

What difference does an LMS make?

The LMS enables us to manage the true blended environment, delivering "e" support where required, on-line events where appropriate as well as providing the means to prove the competence of our people to relevant regulators.

Can e-learning keep taking on more and more areas of learning?

Only if it is an appropriate way of delivering the learning required. E-Learning tools, such as collaboration and virtual classroom tools will certainly be available to support whatever blended approach is adopted.

What changes of emphasis are going on in work-related training?

As mentioned earlier, the emphasis is moving towards training that delivers to support core business needs - for example, as an Insurance Company, that would mean learning interventions aimed at improving our underwriting and
claims handling abilities.

Is e-learning causing these or responding to them?

The smarter providers are responding, the rest will no doubt be working for them in due course!

What are the crucial principles for skills management in organisations?

Identify the skills and build learning that improves them. Don't be led down the path of buying off the shelf content and making it fit somehow - your users will find you out and completion rates will drop.

Do you expect the IT skills training market to pick up soon?

I have no opinion one way or the other.


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