eLearning represents an innovative shift in the field of learning, providing rapid access to specific knowledge and information. It offers online instruction that can be delivered anytime and anywhere through a wide range of electronic learning solutions such as Web-based courseware, online discussion groups, live virtual classes, video and audio streaming, Web chat, online simulations, and virtual mentoring.
eLearning enables organizations to transcend distance and other organizational gaps by providing a cohesive virtual learning environment. Companies must educate and train vendors, employees, partners, and clients to stay competitive, and eLearning can provide such just-in-time training in a cost-effective way.
Developing and deploying effective eLearning programs may require products and services supplied by a variety of vendors, leaving one to connect the dots. One way to start is to define the goals of the desired learning solution. Definition of the goals of an eLearning solution is driven by the following factors:
Perform task analysis
Determine the tasks to be taught, identify subtasks and other elements involved, and identify the knowledge, skills, and attitudes required to complete the tasks efficiently and effectively.
Perform training needs analysis
Identify the target audience for the training. Identify the shortfall in knowledge, skills, and attitudes of this audience and determine what the target learners need to know.
Review existing capabilities
Review existing methods and infrastructure for providing training or meeting learning needs.
Identify concrete expectations and/or ROI requirements from the desired eLearning solution.
The development of an eLearning strategy begins by setting goals. What will the eLearning strategy accomplish? Without a true understanding of the goals of the eLearning strategy, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to be successful.
Before implementing eLearning, organizations need to set common goals or objectives. Common goals and objectives include the following:
To reduce learning costs
As a small business owner, you know that online transactions cost a fraction as much those requiring paper or staff. It’s the same with eLearning because there are no papers, no delays, and no travel expenses.
To reduce the time required for effective learning
Electronic learning is sometimes called “just-in-time” learning. Such learning enables employees to take what they have just learned from their computer screens and apply it to the tasks at hand.
To motivate employees
eLearning is considered an effective way to keep up with new technology, to generate new ideas, and to keep your workforce fresh and inspired.
To improve flexibility of course delivery
Most smaller businesses don’t have the staff to manage their training and development initiatives. eLearning technologies can overcome these administrative restrictions.
To expand the capabilities of the business
Small organizations need to get more out of their high-potential employees. eLearning helps employers take these employees to a higher level of contribution.
Other goals and objectives include the following:
• To reduce the need for classroom training
• To track employee progress
• To track training effectiveness (or absorption)
• To link training with Knowledge Management
• To reduce time away from the job
• To improve job performance
• To support business objectives
• To make learning available anytime, anywhere
Many organizations justify their eLearning initiatives after the fact by eliminating related jobs or reducing training-related travel expenditures. Although these are viable cost savings, they should not be the sole motivation for an eLearning initiative. eLearning must demonstrate that employees are learning more efficiently and retaining more of the curriculum compared with in-class training.
Avoid the common mistake of letting superficial goals drive development, such as moving x% of courses to eLearning. Implementing an eLearning environment does not necessarily accomplish a true goal—the evolution to eLearning is typically done to support a goal or objective.
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