Exploring e-learning part 1



my name is Bronwyn sermon from bcs I'm speaking today to Clive Shepherd from the e-learning network and or Overton from towards maturity about e-learning Clive can we come to you first please there seem to be many different interpretations of the term elearning does it mean to you well you're right that there are many different interpretations and no two people seem to agree on what it means but really the clues in the word it's just simply the use of computers and computer networks as a channel to in some way facilitate the learning process it not one particular use but any possible use and that can go as far as what often people see of self-paced learning is one of the main manifestations be learning but it could also be using networks as a way of running live events or watching videos online or collaborating with your colleagues online so it's a very broad field but really all we're talking about is using computers and networks as a channel and that that's the simplest way of putting it i think so this used to be a lot of interest in elearning at the moment what do you think's drive in that Laura well we've done quite a bit of research recently and about 300 organizations kind of took part and the things that are really driving it right now particularly in these kind of economic climate are areas that they want more efficiency to improve quality and are really looking at kind of driving through some business issues for the minute so I might be improving their customer satisfaction some might be about looking at new areas of productivity organizational change so there's a lot of reasons why people are actually looking at learning technologies now but from a learning perspective the the top ones are about improving quality flexibility access and also about reducing costs and in fact we've found that even in the recession that about fifty percent or more of organizations we talked to are actually increasing the amount of their training budget that they're allocating into this area at the moment for a whole range of different reasons so it's quite diverse the drivers at the moment and that's positive isn't it but elearning has had a lot of criticism in the past has that been fair do you think I think some of it has been fair I think a lot of the initial adoption of learning technologies it's often done as there is people being kind of fascinated by doing something new and often because we can we're trying it out without any kind of real sort about where it's actually adding value into the business it's often been seen as a a bolt-on or as a quick way of actually taking some notebooks and sticking them online and sticking them on screen and calling it elearning and often in that situation you haven't got engagement there's learner doesn't feel supported they're not able to kind of connect with their peers often can't even connect with the trainers so they can feel very very isolated and as though it's not relevant to them but so some of the criticism is there but we've also seen that their organizations are a lot more mature in their use of learning technologies who are really kind of opening up the opportunities that technology can give to them and reaping the benefits from them as well so to take a specific example Clive there's the concept of self paced elearning has that been over-emphasised in your view well I think it has and I think that's a historical thing really because what well before we had the connectivity using internets and the Internet most computers were seen as standalone devices and if you've only got a standalone device you can only really only really option you've got is to use that for self-paced learning self basically only has a lot of advantages I don't want to play that down and you know and learn to tell us that they really do like being able to work at their own pace they like being able to take learning in small chunks rather than in large doses if you like that's that that's definitely the case but but nobody or very few people would actually say that they would want that as a predominant form of learning so in some respects we've had that heritage of self-paced learning back from the days before computers were were connected now they are connected elearning is a much broader field and there are many more opportunities so I think we've got this legacy which we have to try and sort of purge ourselves of not completely because self-paced only has a very very big role to play as a component in a training strategy but we mustn't get fixated on the fact that elearning equals isolated learning because I think that in its there is one of the things that puts learners and other trainers slightly in some cases in opposition to the idea now a tradition that's been quite expensive as well hasn't it is that an issue that should be taken into account especially been one the current economic climate yes what I mean the the arguments about cost and expense have always been difficult one because if you have a large audience you know you may have an audience of tens of thousands of learners in large organizations if that's the case then you can afford to spend a lot of money and time creating a very nice product because it's going to be amortized if you like over over a large audience it's the same argument as the money you'd spend in putting together a Hollywood movie it's justified by millions of years I think that in that case the you know there are huge cost savings that can be made I think that what we're seeing now is the same as we're seeing me having mentioned Hollywood I think that's a very good analogy because just as we're seeing everything from Hollywood through to corporate video like this through to YouTube self-made videos the same is true of web content and e-learning content of it that it's it's it's feasible to mix at every quality level four different sizes of audience and for some things which are very short shelf life and some which are obviously going to be used for a very long time so we can be much more flexible about about the issue of cost and time than perhaps we did in the past hmm elearning is actually now raising expectations for employees in it that they will have things delivered in a different way now their concerns for it for the organization in that change of view point in terms of the employers and sells the actual implementation I think with the new there's new forms of learning coming coming through the people are expecting they're using their own their own technologies for doing their own learning but I think what the challenges for organizations is as such a mix of learners and that they have your what we found again in in our survey was that this year over compared with two years ago that a lot of people looking at learning technologies to really start to engage new new generation learners you know the Generation Y who are constantly looking technology constantly using their kind of their their mobile phones constantly connected with each other and they they are expecting to learn and to do things and to work in really very very different ways so a lot of organizations are starting this year for the first time to say how we going to address these needs because our current methods aren't going to be able to handle that so it's putting some challenges I think on on organizations to actually think about the learners the individuals that they've got the people that they need to get up to speed to perform well in their organization and how to address their different needs and this is giving them more tools in their hands to do that excellent now that seems to raise a wider question doesn't it Clive is e-learning appropriate for every person yes absolutely and I think that I can understand that it would be seen that perhaps more studious learners or learn learners who are more self-contained are obviously going to feel more comfortable with working at a computer but I think that that's that's no longer a relevant way of looking at this because if you think about how computers are used in the home they're used by every type of person well particularly i'm talking about young people it doesn't matter whether your a games player or you're a manic socializer or you are somebody who likes the research and think about things and reflect they've all got ways of using the internet and using computers at home so it's really a question of what you present people with I don't think that anybody has a problem with learning in any type of way in moderation clearly some people prefer some approaches through others some people prefer to be in groups and people will prepare to be one-to-one some people refer to be on their own but everybody's capable of learning in all those different ways I think it's really a question about carefully balancing these approaches and making sure that you don't over use one of the methods the other thing is that you can't deliberately design elearning content if that's what you're that's what you're considering to appeal to different types of people anyway so you know there's no reason why you shouldn't use elearning to deliver games and simulations that would appeal to people who would dream of sitting and reading a book or I don't want to go and I can't be involved in the conversation but they you know they want to have more excitement there's no reason why you shouldn't design e-learning that way okay

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