Can the implementation of an e-learning training solution assist an organisation? (article)


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The possibility of implementing an e-learning training system, and the associated management and organisational culture implications, are discussed in this free article by Derek Stockley.

Setting the context for learning

Earlier this year, I was giving some feedback on the systems, processes and overall efficiency of a large, specialist services provider. The meeting was very positive and the three top executives engaged in a lively discussion about a wide range of issues.

One of the items discussed related to informal on-the-job training for a large staff group (probably about 200 employees). As the staff provided support, their workload was mainly responding to the needs of customers - service was provided as needed 'on demand'.

Most of the time the staff were very busy, but there were periods when they were not actively engaged in service provision. These periods could range from five minutes to one hour, although most standby times would be in the 5-20 minute bracket.

The work performed by these staff was both routine and highly specialised, requiring a great range of technical knowledge.

The availability of e-learning resources

The nature of the work was not unique. There are thousands of people employed in this occupational grouping in Australia.

Given that breaks could occur at any time, and that the staff were constantly seeking further development or refresher training, I mentioned that greater use of e-learning (online training) could be made. E-learning training modules could be installed or made available on workstations that were already accessible by the staff. The modules could be accessed by staff when the opportunity arose.

One of the advantages of e-learning is that it can be provided 24 hours a day, seven days a week - it does not necessarily have to be scheduled.

Although they would have to be vetted for suitability in the Australian context, there are many short e-learning modules available for this profession.

Management role and organisational culture

When I suggested this informal access to e-learning, one executive’s reaction was interesting. He wondered if the staff would take the initiative and go to the workstation to do some training, or whether they would go to the tea room and take a 10 minute break to "read a magazine". Although this was an 'off the cuff' remark, and should not have been taken too seriously, it did highlight the importance of management attitudes.

Was I expecting too much of the staff?

I saw the provision of e-learning tools as meeting an expressed need. I know that, in general, the staff wanted more staff training.

The nature of the work and the organisational structure meant that the staff members, probably in consultation with other team members, would have to make the decision as to whether there was sufficient time.

Did they have the skill level to make this kind of decision? Yes, their work demanded high levels of responsibility.

Would they choose to learn or to have a break?

In reality, probably both, depending on how busy the staff had been.

Learning and organisational culture

I believe a learning culture can be part of the overall organisation culture. Continuous improvement and professional development have been themes in recent newsletter articles.

I believe that learning and personal/career growth is a shared responsibility. I also believe that staff will access learning when required if it easily obtained and readily available.

But what about smaller organisations?

Can smaller organisations access e-learning?

Yes!

It does not have to be expensive. Many websites provide 'free' e-learning and related products.

Other e-learning can be relatively inexpensive.

A major insurance company in Australia has recently released an e-learning health and safety product, which amongst other things, explains the importance of risk assessment. The cost is less than $100. The company concerned has done so as a community service. It also helps them, as good risk assessment procedures and follow-up will reduce the number of insurance claims.

Summary and reflection

E-learning does not fit every situation, but it can be used successfully in some situations as part of a blended learning strategy. It does not have to be expensive.

Have you considered the possibilities?

Related articles

E-learning definition - a definition and explanation of e-learning.

Blended learning definition - a definition and explanation of blended learning.

Did you miss it?

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