E-learning: effective but awkward

May 17 2004 by Brian Amble Print This Article

The majority of organisations find it difficult to implement e-learning within their training and development initiatives, according to new research.

A report from Ashridge business schools based on detailed interviews with organisations including the BBC, Lloyds TSB, Ministry of Defence and Xerox Europe, found that while 86 per cent of organisations believe e-learning is an effective training approach, 82 per cent also said that it is difficult to introduce.

The main barriers to e-learning amongst the organisations interviewed were technology problems, lack of time for training, underestimation of resources required and resistance of staff to engage in e-learning as well as a negative image of e-learning, often created by suppliers.

Despite this, the research shows that in the right conditions, many organisations were using e-learning effectively.

In these organisations, cultural change tended to have taken place about how training and learning happens. Their e-learning initiatives tended to be closely aligned to the needs to the business and 'blended' with other types of training such as classroom activities and their learning needs drove the technology rather than the other way around.

In addition, success e-learning programmes had ongoing support from a senior level and was marketed effectively throughout the organisation.

"The initial wild enthusiasm for e-learning has given way to a much more cautious approach," says Andrew Ettinger, Director of Learning Resources at Ashridge and co-author of the research.

"E-learning is not the silver bullet as many people were led to believe. It can be highly effective, but only when implemented properly as part of an overall learning process.

"A slower pace of development for e-learning should be welcomed, as it should give organisations the time to focus on what really matters - the creation of an organisational environment that truly values learning."

"Suppliers need to have a stronger customer relationship management focus and assist clients with marketing and promotion. They need to increasingly tailor products and services for clients that save managers time."