When a Company Should Consider Using eLearning
by Ron Kurtus (revised 4 April 2004)
Most companies need to provide some sort of training or instruction to their workers, customers and suppliers. This is especially true for technology-based organizations. Typically these companies provide needed training by sending people to school, holding in-house training classes, or providing manuals and self-study guides.
In some situations it is advantageous for them to use Computer-Based Training (CBT), Web-Based Training (WBT) or other forms of eLearning instead of the traditional training.
Questions you may have include:
- What are eLearning advantages?
- What are eLearning disadvantages?
- How do you make the decision?
This lesson will answer those questions.
What are eLearning advantages?
eLearning, CBT or WBT have advantages over traditional classroom training for the workers in a company, customers using a product, or students in school. These advantages include:
- Better than reading the manual
- Standardized learning
Can be better than reading the manual
Many working people do not have the motivation or skills to sit down teach themselves by reading a manual or self-study guide. Manuals are usually more effective for reference than for learning. Self-study guides can be considered a drag. On the other hand, CBT attracts the student's interest and can even be enjoyable to use. It certainly would work better than simply learning from a manual.
The major consideration in training is cost. As the number of people being trained increases, it becomes more cost effective to develop a eLearning material than to send people to class. This includes situations where many people must be trained, as well as cases where companies have a high turnover of personnel.
Another situation is when the people to be trained are widely dispersed. Travel time and costs to send them to a class could be prohibitive, and sending trainers to them would not be practical. Sending CBT or WBT material to these people would make more sense.
Since different teachers and trainers have different styles of instruction, all personnel may not be receiving the same training. eLearning assures standardization of training and content presented. This is also true for any testing or certification the students may receive.
What are the disadvantages?
There are some drawbacks on using eLearning:
- Need access to computer
- Some need access to Internet
- Must know who to use computer
- Personnel resistance
- Must be well-done
Need a computer
Students must have access to computers, at home, at work, or at some training location in order to use CBT. Sometimes computer access isn't possible.
Some need Internet access
In the case of WBT, they also need to have access to the Internet. This can be a problem for training field personnel who may have computers but can't readily access the Internet for the just-in-time training or guidance.
Must know how to use computer
To use eLearning, it is assumed that the personnel being trained are somewhat computer literate. They certainly must know how to use a keyboard and a mouse. Some people must be trained to get to the point of being able to use a CBT.
Some people have phobias concerning using computers, while others balk at any type of computer interaction. They may feel it is too impersonal or that the computer is out to get them. Some people may simply freeze up when confronted with learning on a computer.
Must be well-done
The eLearning must be designed and written in a quality manner for the students to keep interest and learn. A poorly designed CBT or WBT can result in boredom or even confuse the person supposed to learn the material. In my opinion, a person can learn more from a poor teacher than from a poorly designed CBT.
How do you make the decision?
Businesses make most sound decisions based on potential return-on-investment (ROI). It is assumed that the company has already determined that training their personnel and/or customers is a value-added activity. Now, the question is whether or not eLearning is the best route to take.
Criteria for deciding on using eLearning include:
- Cost and practicality of sending learners to class
- Availability of computers and literacy of learners
- Development cost versus number being trained
Weighing these issues, an effective decision can be made.
Companies should consider using eLearning, CBT or WBT when it is cost effective and practical and when they want standardized education. PCs must be available, students must not resist using the PCs, and the eLearning material must be well-done to provide the desired effect.
Benefit society by teaching others through eLearning
Resources and references
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When a Company Should Consider Using eLearning