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The Way I See It … What Makes E-learning Work Today


Early predictions of e-learning as a replacement for face to face learning were misplaced. Instead, it has been recognised that an integrated programme of face to face events and e-learning modules combined with other learning tools and applications can be both highly effective for learners, economical and efficient for the organisation.

Although this type of 'blended' learning is often discussed in theory, it has yet to become a reality for many organisations. Those who have adopted it, such as the Department for Work and Pensions are seeing real benefits.

Blended Learning:
Blended learning has really come into its own and we are seeing a huge trend for integrating different forms of learning to provide real choice for learners. Rich, blended learning environments are giving learners greater control over their learning journeys and making learning more effective.

Great blended learning is about more than combining e-learning with face to face learning. It is about integrating a range of learning methods, such as coaching, online learning tools and surveys, face to face workshops, assessments and collaborative activities. The trend for increasingly sophisticated blended learning solutions is set to continue.

Individuals are also more willing to embrace new forms of learning. A 2005 MORI survey on overall trends in web use in the UK found that 83% of respondents see a role for the internet in learning new things. The overwhelming majority of people surveyed (94%) agree that it is important for adults to continue to learn as they get older, with 83% classing the internet as an important learning tool which 40% have used in connection with their own education.

Educating individuals on the benefits of e-learning also has a tremendous impact on completion and success rates.

The Formal Training Course Is Dead:
Informal learning is definitely a trend that’s here to stay. Bite-sized learning, on-the-job learning, mobile learning and e-learning are just some of the key ways that learning is becoming more accessible and increasingly integrated into everyday working life.

Only 17% of learning and development professionals responding to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)’s 2006 survey of learning and development said that the formal training course takes priority in their organisation. The survey also found that 84% of organisations now encourage individuals to take more responsibility for their own learning and development.

This is an exciting trend, which brings many benefits. However, while individuals taking control of their own learning is a trend we should all encourage, we also need to bear in mind that these individuals need support from organisations. Informal learning needs to be smart, accessible and innovative.

The duration of learning programmes has been significantly reduced. One day programmes are now commonplace and generally considered to be highly effective. For some Academee clients, successful face to face events last no longer than half a day. Organisations are becoming more and more reluctant to take their workforce from their place of work for more than a day - the driver for this being the need for productivity and efficiency.

As e-learning has become an increasingly popular mode of training, units have been reduced to an hour or less, and workers can be trained sitting at their desk - in the case of some customer service applications, units have been broken down into just 10 minute sections.

Learning On The Hoof:
In 2006, we are seeing informal, mobile and audio learning emerging as hot topics, with the MP3 player emerging as the preferred means of access for audio learning. Podcasts were highlighted as one of the newest ways learners liked to receive information in initial research into corporate e-learning published in May 2006 from Learning Light (LL).

Growing awareness and the use of mobile learning using a range of different devices, including PDAs and WAP mobile phones as well as MP3 players, will have an important impact on the world of e-learning and learning technologies.

With the rise of e-learning, e-coaching has become a popular way of replicating the relationship between facilitator and learner. Recognising that despite the many advantages of e-learning, people still need the human touch in some form, e-learning providers have worked hard to connect people with each other.

Technology Trends:
Trends in e-learning will continue to be driven by improved hardware technology in terms of size (smaller), cost (cheaper) and quality (better). This in turn will drive the availability of increasingly sophisticated software and content solutions that more readily meet the needs of both individuals and organisations.

Dr Jo Cheesman is Partnership and Business Development Manager for Academee learning solutions.


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