Marketing the eLearning Concept
Designing, developing, and implementing eLearning resources are just part of the eLearning battle. Getting workers and prospective students and instructors to use eLearning is a challenge in itself. eLearning acceptance or any other form of adoption (knowledge management, technology, etc.) can be broken down into two main categories: who and why.
The following players play a major role in the adoption of eLearning:
An organization must make some decision as to what extent they are prepared to adopt eLearning. This can be as informal as creating an environment for interested instructors to move resources online, or it could be a formal strategic, enterprise-wide proposal.
Within an organization, the group of instructors or an individual instructor must make some decision about adoption. In some cases, such a decision can be mandated.
In most cases, unless training is required for new government regulations, it is the learners who decide whether they want to take an online course or program.
Society determines the feasibility and reliability of eLearning as an option/process. Business/society changes are the critical drivers for eLearning development, and this trend is likely to continue.
Why would these various components (organization, instructor, learner, and society) want to
Organizations generally adopt eLearning in order to reduce costs, remain competitive, implement strategic plans that require common views/clear communication, grow knowledge, or meet government regulations.
eLearning will help an instructor to improve learning. Learning will be more accessible to students, and students will have greater access to quality resources.
Learners will have greater access to resources. The training will be of superior quality (i.e. online course from different parts of the world) and will be more cost-effective. Most importantly, learners will have greater flexibility as to when and where they learn.
The primary goal of education is to improve the quality of life. As educational resources become available to a wider audience, the needs of society are met and society itself is transformed.
The key to marketing eLearning is to individually address the organization’s multiple groups of stakeholders. Every group has varying goals, success factors, and political stakes. The needs of all individuals must be identified before creating marketing messages that will succeed with each group. Distributing messages to the masses will result in lack of buy-in or disinterest.
In general, when discussing adoption, most organizations focus on “getting the learner to take a course.” This is a vital component of eLearning implementation, but it doesn’t present an accurate overview of eLearning marketing and adoption. Marketing and encouraging eLearning takes place on many levels (internal, external, to educators, as a business, etc.) and involves many different aspects (infrastructure, content, systems, etc.). At every stage of eLearning implementation, the important issues are social resistance, change management, and promotion. Most often, the question being asked is “What can I do with this that I cannot do without it.” With eLearning, the answer generally centers on the access, cost, convenience, and effectiveness of eLearning.
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