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Trainer’s tip: Removing the block to elearning


How do you get staff to embrace elearning? And how do you surmount the mental block to self directed elearning in particular? A blended approach helps, say Tim Drewitt and Rus Slater - and follow up is essential.

Tim DrewittTim Drewitt advises:
I've been involved with elearning for over 15 years now and at all times, I too have encountered issues around the notion of 'self-directed' learning (not just with respect to elearning either). Once when I worked with a large client on how they could increase the use of their elearning resources, it became clear that the workforce were asking for 'managed' self-managed learning, as they had no idea where to start.

When this happens, it's often not training method related, but more a systemic issue with how the personal development and appraisal process has been structured. People have been used to being sent on courses, not encouraged to think through their own development. And if the career management system is too rigid, then people lose faith that managing their own development will have any impact anyway.

What reasons do your staff give as to why they have a block when it comes to this form of training? I actually believe that learning styles issues can be overcome by not only blending elearning content with other methods, but by also informing learners how, regardless of their preferred learning style, they can embrace all forms of training. I did this way back in the 90s with my then retail bank employer and uptake rose considerably as a result.

More recently, I've been exposed to work in the area of behavioural preferences that apply to the learning space too. Again, it's possible to provide hints and tips for tackling self-study elearning when one understands how one prefers to learn. Keep it simple, show how they can involve others too, so that it's not the solitary experience they first imagine, and provide a supporting infrastructure. And make sure there is follow-through after each course. Now that doesn't often happen either with face-to-face training, so it's even more important that things happen after an elearning programme.

Rus SlaterRus Slater says:
Elearning provides an excellent resourse where the subject matter is predominantly knowledge based rather than skill based. Similarly, it works well with certain people whose preferred learning style matches the elearning methodology. Elearning can work very well where the management culture supports it.

Elearning is less effective for subjects that are skills based (with some exceptions such as systems type learning), it is less effective for folk who prefer a more active style and it falls totally flat as soon as a manager approaches someone undertaking a module at their workstations and says; 'Haven't you got any work to do?'. Similarly, if the organisation has no culture of elearning, you can't expect people to suddenly embrace it overnight just because it is available.

Many organisations overcome these issues by using a blended technique of elearning, workshops, coaching and/or action learning sets. This approach covers all learning styles and provides depth and opportunity for self directed and facilitated learning. In this sort of approach, however, you still need to ensure that delegates do the elearning if it is culturally new.

I worked with two particular clients on blended programmes... with the first client (in the public sector)the take-up rate of the elearning was about 15% of the delegates that actually turned up to the training workshops (this is another story, but the actual turn up rate at workshops was about 25% of bookings). The other client (in the professional services private sector) has a take up rate on elearning of around 95% and a turn up rate at workshops of around 90%. The former simply ask people to do the elearning, the latter have a test at the end of the elearning and actullay check it (as part of their IiP process), they also charge line managers for no-shows!

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