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Innovative eLearning: A Key Driver of Revenue Growth and Cost Reduction

26.04.2010
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Innovative eLearning: A Key Driver of Revenue Growth and Cost Reduction
In the years of the global financial crisis, companies tend to allocate an increased focus to cost-cutting opportunities, as replacing expensive classroom trainings with cost-efficient eLearning program.

Experts have also different opinions about the key added values of eLearning Programs, or whether they will be able to replace trainings, or not. We should not under or overestimate the role of eLearning, says Dr. Zoltán Csedő, General Manager of Innotica Group, a leading provider of innovative Learning, Technology, Consulting and Outsourcing solutions in Central and Eastern Europe. Within the training portfolio of a company, he adds, there should be room for eLearning and ‘traditional’ classroom training at the same time. One should not substitute the other, but complement it.

We’ve asked Dr. Csedő to provide us an insight in the hot topics of the eLearning profession, as well as share with our readers key opportunities that would motivate companies to rely much more on eLearning Programs.

What is eLearning?

E-learning is a very complex concept, one that is not easy to define: let just think on the training and development of a senior corporate executive, a manager of a functional area (e.g., sales, marketing, call centre, operations director), different experts in sales, marketing, administration, communication, information technology or human resources. Next to meeting all these specific corporate needs, the methodological aspects of eLearning pedagogy are also crucial.

This type of learning is usually built on an Internet-based Learning Management Technology. So, eLearning combines distance learning and IT communications using both to their full potential. This kind of education relies upon the tutor, the students, the learning coordinator, all ‘meeting up’ through their computers. It is an interactive means of education whereby the lecture is coordinated by the tutor and the student can study according to his/her own pace, without dependence on time and location.

How does eLearning work?

There are a number of ways in which eLearning can work. Firstly, there exists the pure on-line approach where students and tutors only ‘meet’ in cyberspace. Secondly, there is the so-called mixed tutoring whereby part of the lectures are on-line and some happen in the ‘old fashioned way’, in classroom training. Simultaneous eLearning is when, for example, chat, telephone conference or video conference is linked with the training; in the case of asynchronous learning e-mails, blogs, forums are used for communication. The most widely-used form of eLearning is Internet-based tutoring which requires the user to have high-speed Internet connection, but there are instances of companies using Intranet or the required curriculum on CD/DVD.

What kind of material is eLearning suitable for? What is the measurability of the potential for eLearning?

We should not under or overestimate the role of eLearning. Within the training portfolio of a company, there should be room for eLearning and ‘traditional’ classroom learning at the same time. One should not substitute the other but complement it. Professionally it should be taken into account that if the aim of the training is knowledge transfer, then in many cases it is more practical to do it via eLearning. However, if it is skills development then classroom training is more effective. Experience has shown that the number one priority in the introductory eLearning system is to align the company's strategic objectives. A good eLearning system effectively contributes to the company's revenue growth and cost reduction, as well.

There is some debate in the eLearning industry, whether to go for cost-efficient off-the-shelf eLearning courses versus more expensive custom-tailored course portfolios.

What is the difference between these two courses and which would you recommend to your clients?

Off-the-shelf solutions have grown significantly in popularity in the business community. Off-the-shelf eLearning curricula usually covers a number of training topics which is valuable to different companies, such as knowledge of general financial accounting, management and organization, etc.

Their advantage is that they ensure a basic knowledge in a given field for users in a rapid and cost-effective way. The disadvantage is that this knowledge is not custom-tailored to the needs of the company, so it may not fully support the strategic goals and in some cases it my specifically disrupt the strategic focus. Before making a statement either for the off-the-shelf courses or custom-tailored ones, we usually evaluate the training and development needs of a client. Based on the results of the evaluation we recommend one or a mix of both types of courses.

Another hot topic in eLearning: there should on use an open-sources Learning Management System or self-developed technology?

A lot of open-sources softwares are available to use for eLearning management, which allows anyone without strong professional background to develop and manage their eLearning materials. We usually recommend the open-sources softwares for academia, where the needs are much lower for complex eLearning solutions. Self-developed eLearning technology is available from providers, such as the Innotica Group, that have specialized on complex and innovative eLearning services to cover a lot of strategic corporate needs not only in learning and development, but in other areas, as well.

To highlight the differences, allow me to recall my example of a very good friend of mine, an engineer in Information Technology, who decided to make his own dining room furniture. Although, he had no clue before how to make furniture, he purchased the appropriate machinery for the turnery, and learned the techniques from books. It took him almost a year to finish the furniture, had spent a great amount of his free time on this ‘project’ and to date there are no two chairs which are exactly the same. He could have bought all the furniture in a store over a weekend, and he now admits, it would have been much more cheaper and would take much less time.

What are the main elements of an eLearning curriculum?

In an eLearning curricula there are content, structural and technical elements. The content is based on the knowledge transfer through text, with the help of a number of images, graphics, animations, simulations, sounds, music, film, and games. The structure of the main elements is that of a table of contents, introductions, case studies, repetitions, exams, help. Within the methodological elements it is worth highlighting the methodological principle of education (pedagogy, psychology), a framework (a formal structure, content), navigation (usability), recitation, the possibility of help, links, notes and glossary.

How many employees should be enrolled in an eLearning system, to be still cost-efficient?

Usually we advise clients, that an investment in a customized eLearning system is professionally justified if there are available at least 120-150 users at the same site, or at least 50-70 users at geographically different locations.

What are the main opportunities of eLearning for a company?

By reducing the ‘traditional’ training-associated loss of work hours, travel cost, administration expenses, etc. spent major cost reductions are possible. With modern eLearning Technologies the availability of custom-tailored training portfolios for each employee has significantly grown . The reports and statistics of an eLearning system support key management decisions. Because increased flexibility, staff is becoming more motivated to perform on-line, interactive training modules. This significant amount of custom-tailored knowledge, the motivated work-force would drive revenue growth for the companies.

Innotica Group’s innovations enable global enterprises, government, academic and research institutions to maximize their business performance through a combination of comprehensive eLearning and Knowledge Management content, flexible and custom-tailored technologies, as well as a broad range of consulting and support services. For more information, please, visit Innotica Group’s website: www.innotica.com

Words by Anna Koczor for XpatLoop.com





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