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Thursday, April 22, 2010

E-Learning

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e-Learning: Hype or Hip?

Many times customers and potential customers ask me whether eLearning is just a passing fad. This is an excellent question that warrants some discussion. My experience with eLearning and more especially with custom eLearning content development has been an extremely positive
one. Unfortunately some companies are dismissing the concept of eLearning because they have had a negative experience with it. Recently, I came across a discussion on the Support Insight discussion forum that described eLearning as a hyped solution to training.

I have had the opportunity to speak to many people about their experience with eLearning and
the majority of skeptics and naysayer have one thing in common. Predominantly they have all
had a negative experience with the development of training materials. The common theme that I
have seen is that most of the development work was done without completing a thorough needs
analysis. In addition, many companies are guilty of selecting an eLearning vendor without doing
the necessary research about what the industry offers and what criteria they should use when
selecting an eLearning vendor. The product offerings in the eLearning industry are extremely
diverse as are the skills and experience that eLearning vendors' possess.

It is important to determine what your needs as a customer is and what role vendor selection will play in your ultimate success or failure. I would recommend that you read my short white paper entitled
'Selecting an eLearning vendor: A guide to making an informed decision', that describes the most
important considerations that need to be made when selecting an eLearning vendor.
I can't stress how important needs analysis is to developing successful eLearning materials such
as customized interactive eLearning courses, multimedia reference materials or analytical
technical toolkits. Unfortunately many customers don't take the time to think about what their
needs and objectives are. In addition they often select eLearning developers who overlook this
step or do a cursory high level needs analysis focused primarily on selling bells and whistles to
the customer, rather than focusing on the customer's business needs and limitations. Yes, it is
important to note that eLearning does have limitations, primarily driven by the fact that not all
customers are equal when it comes to technology. This limitation is an important consideration
when you are considering eLearning as a training method.

The initial needs assessment should identify the objectives of the eLearning program, course,
materials and who will be using it. How will they access the materials? What technology will they
be using? Does it make sense to include interactive bandwidth-intensive elements such as video
and audio? Unfortunately, some eLearning content developers overlook these considerations
and as a result develop a solution that disappoints the customer. This then results in the failure
being laid at the door of eLearning, rather than at the door of the actual eLearning vendor and the
customer.

Developing an eLearning project has to be done by building a relationship with an eLearning
vendor that has extensive experience in the industry. eLearning is not a silver bullet that can
solve all of your training needs. In many cases eLearning can not eliminate the need for face to
face training. In these cases eLearning can compliment on site training as part of a blended
learning approach.

In most companies there will be people that will resist any computer based instruction. In fact, all
companies have people who resist any change as a rule. You must recognize this threat to the development of any eLearning materials prior to beginning any projects and realize that you will
need to identify a champion, project sponsor and department leaders that can assist you in
mitigating and mediating any resistance to new training initiatives.

An easy way to mitigate any initial resistance in your corporation to new eLearning initiatives is to
focus on quick wins. This is a great way to demonstrate the value of a new eLearning initiative
and to develop a good working relationship with your eLearning vendor. Many companies try to
focus on the areas with the most complicated needs first. In my opinion this is a bad approach
that can only end in disaster. Remember keep your first project simple!

Start by focusing on areas where there is a need and where there are existing training materials
within your organization. It is a lot easier to create a customized interactive training course from
existing sources such as PowerPoint presentations developed by subject matter experts (SME's),
lessons learnt documents, case studies and standard operating procedures (SOP's) as opposed
to starting from scratch. It is amazing how much information you will find when you start looking
within your organization. Admittedly most of the materials that you will find are informational only
and would need to be structured and redeveloped into an interactive format that ensures
knowledge retention. Having said this it is much easier, less time consuming and resource
intensive to use existing information within your company rather than attempting to reinvent the
wheel. Remember focus on quick wins that will impart essential knowledge to a select group of
your final overall target audience and demonstrate the value of your endeavor.
eLearning is a valuable training tool as long as it is approached in a manner that keeps your
ultimate objectives, limitations, corporate political landscape and possibilities in mind. Like any
other tool the final result is dependent on the skill of the operator. eLearning can have extremely
positive results within your organization including saving you time and money paid for onsite
training often involving travel, increased productivity, self-paced learning and maximized ROI.
However, positive results require foresight and a good working relationship between the content
developer, customer project manager/owner and the project sponsor/champion. We would be
happy to assist you with any of the questions that you have. Even if you are only at the initial
needs assessment stage, we would be happy to discuss your eLearning development options
with you.

Quintus is the Director of Business Development for Cyber Media Creations. His Business Development duties and responsibilities include all sales, marketing and business development initiatives. In addtion, Quintus is responsible for project management of larger projects and as such his duties and responsibilities include customer needs assessment and overall project management throughout product lifecycle; storyboard and development mockup design; content development (audio and structuring; prototype feedback to developers; course and program testing and the development implementation of standard business documentation for all customer contracts/ agreements and project management documentation.

Quintus brings a unique global perspective to Cyber Media Creations' training approach.

Home: http://www.cybermediacreations.com

Company profile: [http://cybermediacreations.com/elearning/eLearning_company_profiles_CMC.pdf]

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Quintus_Joubert

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