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Think you know what e-learning is? Think again!


Pete Bennett, Head of Technology for Learning for LSN, shares his expertise on the often misunderstood topic of e-learning...

Everyone knows what e-learning is, don’t they? Well, in our experience, they actually don’t. The problem is that when people talk about ‘e-learning’, or online learning, they are normally thinking about or visualizing the content they see on their screen. But that’s no more ‘learning’ than if they were holding a book in their hands, even if they were reading it. So, although obviously important, content alone is not ‘learning’. Real e-learning includes content, for sure, but equal focus, if not more, must be given to the learning process and support to deliver genuine ‘learning.’

How to get it right…

To enhance the delivery and retention of learning and development programmes, from short courses to formal qualifications, we need to stop relying on event and time-based activities (e.g. in a classroom on a Tuesday) as the sole means of delivery.

They need to be replaced with what is called ‘blended learning’. Blended learning integrates online e-learning content and processes with face-to-face sessions, tests, assessments, information and group working. This approach enhances and extends the communication and training process; it reduces the face-to-face time spent on theory and knowledge by ensuring that this valuable time is spent on truly understanding, skill-building and contextualizing.

For general wider staff development, you can adopt a joined-up technology approach which focuses on individual development monitoring and planning, but which is extended by additional e-learning opportunities.

Technology thereby allows the transformation of basic administration processes for courses and events, with mandatory and statutory activity pushed and pulled to and by people, all within committed and agreed development plans. This inevitably encourages managers and staff to take more control of their development and turns learning moments into genuine development.

… and how not to

Time and again, however, we see major e-learning projects in organisations failing. Why is this?

Well, for starters, organisations don’t do the above. Instead, they spend too much time, money and effort on creating rich and sophisticated e-learning content at the expense of the process. This is due to the mistaken belief that the more fancy and rich the content they make (or buy), the more impact and retention it will create. It doesn’t.

Instead, always keep your e-learning simple - engaging and visually attractive, sure, but keep staff thinking and doing things, not treating it like online gaming!

We know, because we’ve done it

We know all this, because we’ve done it; enabling organisations to deliver truly blended leadership and management qualifications via our Blended Model. This approach is used successfully all over the world – well 14 countries so far.  From Governments in the West Indies to Oil companies in the Gulf, and from Universities and Colleges to large and small Training Providers.

Take a look at just a few of our success stories:

> Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust

> Bahrain Petroleum Company

> National House Building Council

> City of Bath College

Pete Bennett, LSN

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