The Herman Trend Alert|
April 11, 2001
Faced with the challenge of educating and training people all over the world, corporations have turned to e-learning. Using the power of the internet, instructors teach courses to workers in a wide variety of environments. With increasing access to the worldwide web, employees easily go on-line from virtually anywhere and take a course-"live" or pre-recorded. Quality and accessibility of learning is improving levels of performance everywhere. Employees are eager to participate and enthusiasm is high.
The above paragraph is what proponents of on-line training would have us believe. But is the picture really this bright? Not quite, and the potential is still there.
When distance learning was first introduced, optimism and enthusiasm were high. Until innovation hit the wall of reality, the race to use higher levels of technology created serious learning challenges for course developers, instructors, and students. The importance of the teacher-learner relationship got lost in efforts to use the bells and whistles of rapidly emerging technologies. Some courses were more entertaining than educational.
Training professionals encountered another obstacle when they discovered that not all employees are ready to embrace individualized on-line learning. Many are still not computer-literate and some who are familiar with computers are skittish about using the distance learning technologies. This discomfort is particularly prevalent among some of the older workers (in this case, 40 or 45 and older) who find this computer learning a bit intimidating.
Costs are a factor. At first, with the rapid growth in the field, costs were high. Some costs have dropped; others are still beyond the reach of corporate training budgets. Questions about whether to develop courses in-house or contract them continue to challenge the professionals in the field. With the large number of suppliers and self-described experts in the arena, the development of standards is difficult. Everyone thinks his/her way is best.
Access is a problem. Many employees do not yet have access to on-line learning. Hardware issues, scheduling, and training in the process of computer-based learning are all challenges.
E-learning is here to stay, but will grow less rapidly than was originally anticipated.
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