Set YOUR Potential Free
I was very interested to read the following article, on the training zone website, on E Learning which has provoked a massive response from professionals in the field of learning and training. We at QED have been using online learning very successfully as part of our ‘blended learning’ programmes for some time so I agreed with many of the views given.
As with all things ‘it’s not what you do but how you do it’ and E Learning must be used appropriately and with the relevant support in place to help learners make the best of the opportunity.
See this link for other responses to this article.
The elearning diet: Not recommended for long term results
Like the Atkins diet, numerous boybands and the dot com bubble, is elearning no more than just a passing fad? Rob Chapman pulls no punches in this outspoken opinion piece about the fate of the elearning industry.
The nature of fads is that they generate millions of devotees, deliver results for a short period and then suddenly fail – leaving fans dejected and disenchanted. The Atkins diet, numerous manufactured boybands, even the dot com bubble have all fallen by the wayside. Now it’s the turn of elearning to join the fads of the past as it crash-lands straight into the graveyard of training practises.
But why? In order to assess its downfall, we need to take a step back. In the late 1990s, elearning was the darling of the training market. Loved by employees for its flexibility and finance directors for its low cost, it was the perfect way to learn that suited everyone, with no drawbacks.
“Elearning is a classic example of the readiness with which people are ready to disregard received wisdom. We know that the more contact we have with our teachers the better we learn.”
The major selling point for employees was the ultimate flexibility offered by an online course. You can choose where and when you study, and at whatever pace you like. Indeed, this is an attraction for businesses as training can suddenly be squeezed into lunchbreaks to make the best use of employees’ time. A win-win situation all round, surely?
Learning or cramming?
But should learning be crammed into snatches of time, dragged out over months and cut off from the classroom? Is a student connected to an ISP or a webcam more likely to succeed than one connected to an experienced instructor?
The truth is, these skills are ultimately what are going to make or break your career. Do you really want to wait for a year or more before you can become certified? Are you really going to retain facts and figures crammed in between a half-eaten sandwich and a quick flick through a tabloid? Without the structure provided by a timetable of classes and the motivation generated by an examination date, it’s all too easy to put training at the bottom of the To Do list.
This is particularly true for IT employees, who are often at the beck and call of colleagues struggling with hard drive crashes, user permission problems and email delay. Ironically, it is training that will enable the IT team to provide the office with a better service, but try explaining this to the person who has to reconnect to the WLAN now.
The importance of verbal & visual clues
Another factor to consider is the benefit of learning in the classroom in close contact with an instructor. Humans are designed to learn from one another using both verbal and visual clues to process and retain new information. Discussions and Q&A sessions will often stoke up new insights into subjects, and may turn up the explanation needed for students to grasp a new concept. On the other side of the desk, instructors look for visual clues to confirm that students have understood what they’ve been taught. A wrinkled nose, furrowed brow, or a glazed expression can instantly indicate that further explanation on a topic is needed – how easy is it to detect a change in facial expression when you’re looking at a dozen or more webcams on your screen?
“Instructors look for visual clues to confirm that students have understood what they’ve been taught. A wrinkled nose, furrowed brow, or a glazed expression can instantly indicate that further explanation on a topic is needed – how easy is it to detect a change in facial expression when you’re looking at a dozen or more webcams on your screen?”
Elearning is a classic example of the readiness with which people are ready to disregard received wisdom. We know that the more contact we have with our teachers the better we learn. Just look at the concern surrounding growing classroom sizes. Equally important is the amount of contact students have with their peers. Learning in groups is not just socially more enjoyable, it is a proven source of motivation. Working towards a common goal, sharing tips on revision and simply offering encouragement: none of these factors should be overlooked.
The true cost of elearning?
Despite the obvious advantages of this learning environment, elearning advocates retain one vital piece of ammunition: price. The myth remains that learning online is the best option for tight budgets. Not necessarily so. Granted, the cost of an online course will always beat the instructor-led equivalent hands down, but what about the true cost of elearning?
Though elearning often appears to be a cheap option, the total cost needs to factor in the number of paid hours spent out of the office and the time it takes to put the new skills into practice. Elearning courses can be completed over a long period of time, so there’s no real incentive to complete them quickly. This is only going to lead to IT managers having to wait far longer for their staff to be trained up on new technology, and in some cases, have to send staff straight back out to retrain, because their skills have been outdated by the next wave of technology.
Perhaps most worrying is the potential threat to business posed by inadequate, outdated or absent skills. You only have to read the headlines in the IT press to appreciate the value of a network manager fully trained to protect company data. Viruses, hackers and DOS attacks are all examples of threats best countered with expertise, yet many companies wait over a year to acquire it.
At its inception, elearning was hailed as the best thing since sliced bread. However, just like the Atkins diet, former devotees are now hankering for something substantial and better balanced that will satisfy their appetite for learning – not just a quick fix.
Rob Chapman, Firebrand Training.