E-learning for Training and Potential Barriers
The changing nature of the global business environment due to globalization requires that organization quickly adopt new methods of operation to stay afloat and beat competition. One of the methods that organizations have adopted in their quest to stay afloat is employee training, given the numerous benefits including increased production, loyalty, and low employee turnover that come with such training (Rigoni & Asplund, 2016). Although employee training can be a daunting task for organizations, eLearning offers reprieve to organizations given its flexibility and savings on the cost of training (Kopp, 2014). However, despite its benefits, eLearning faces many barriers to its implementation and success. Surmounting these barriers requires preparation from the trainer to the learners for the eventual success of the program as this paper will discuss.
Kopp (2014) describes eLearning as any “technology-enhanced learning, computer-based instruction, Internet-based training, or virtual instruction” (p. 134). Kopp (2014) further elucidates that eLearning encompasses different media in the learning process, all of which help in delivery of different content through text, audio, images, animation, and streamed video. ELearning additionally refers to learning that utilizes electronic technologies in accessing educational curriculum outside the bounds of traditional classroom setting. In describing the uniqueness of eLearning, Kopp (2014) posits that eLearning is both a medium and a delivery method, where in learners can undertake the course at their own time (asynchronous learning) or synchronous with real time sessions with instructor through platforms such as Skype or FaceTime. Worth noting is that eLearning is almost never exclusive; blending often occurs with other content delivery methods such as instructor led learning (Kopp, 2014).
Part of the reason for increased adoption and praise of eLearning as a method of training particularly for employers to their employees is its cost saving nature, the ability of learners to learn at their own pace, less social interaction time, and the less time it takes to start and wind up a learning session (Kopp, 2014). However, its adoption has been slow due to a number of barriers, especially those concerned with readiness of the organization to implement eLearning as a training medium. Becker, Newton and Sawang (2013) argue that one of the barriers to eLearning readiness is resources, which comprises of technological, economic human readiness. For technological readiness, Becker, Newton and Sawang (2013) posit that where the existing technological systems cannot support eLearning training, it will be impossible to implement eLearning. The absence of an existing technological infrastructure that supports eLearning means that the organization is essentially not ready for eLearning. Another barrier is the economic readiness of the organization. The organization must be ready to invest in eLearning in infrastructure, administrative support and curriculum development. In the absence of such readiness in investment, it is impossible for eLearning to take off. On the same breath, as resources, employees should have at least the basic skills in technology manipulation. The employees’ ease with the technology to be implemented will determine the success of the training at the rolling out of the eLearning training.
The organization’s learning culture can also be a barrier to eLearning readiness. Becker, Newton and Sawang (2013) inform that the organization must have a learning culture for successful implementation of eLearning. Hence, an organization open to learning can easily adopt eLearning as part of the employees’ training rigmarole. An organization apprehensive to learning on the other hand, may not even invest in the technology necessary for the implementation of the learning program. Such an organization may also not be positive towards the learning needs of the employees, and therefore fail in the implementation of an eLearning strategy.
The aforementioned barriers hinder the success of an eLearning system. However, may of the employees and students, particularly the millenials are eLearning ready, perhaps the more reason for their success at their place of work and in academic institution. Part of the reason many eLearning-ready individuals succeed is the motivation the readiness gives to the learners. Experience with Internet and skills in manipulating eLearning tools such as computers and tablets make such individual successful in eLearning environments. Moreover, such individuals, particularly students, are intrinsically motivated to learn using provided eLearning instruments, thereby increasing their chances of success.
The success of an eLearning program depends on the ELearning-readiness of learners. It is therefore the responsibility of the trainers to prepare learners for eLearning. Lorenzi, MacKeogh and Fox (2004) inform that trainers must ensure that learners have basic computer and Internet skills. The skills are essentially foundational, and learners need to develop them before eLearning commences. The trainer must also inquire from learners to know their preferred learning styles. By taking stock of the learners’ learning styles, the trainer can then develop teaching techniques that cater to all the learners’ needs, without bias to particular content delivery styles (Kopp, 2014). Additionally, the trainer should develop and emphasize self-motivation among learners to the learning program. By developing intrinsic motivation among the learners, the trainer essentially gives the learners the practical tools to self-learning. The trainer’s role then becomes only as a guide and not the source of knowledge. Through such motivation, learners discover far more by themselves than with the trainer’s help.
Becker, K., Newton, C., & Sawang, S. (2013). A learner perspective on barriers to e-learning. Australian Journal of Adult Learning, 53(2), 211-233. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1013664.pdf
Kopp, D. M. (2014). Human resource development: Performance improvement through learning [Electronic version]. Retrieved from https://ashford.content.edu.
Lorenzi, F., MacKeogh, K., & Fox, S. (2004). Preparing Students for Learning in an Online World: an Evaluation of the Student Passport to Elearning (SPEL) Model. Dublin: Dublin City University. Retrieved from http://www.eurodl.org/materials/contrib/2004/Lorenzi_MacKeogh_Fox.htm.
Rigoni, B. & Asplund, J. (2016). Developing Employees’ Strengths Boosts Sales, Profit, and Engagement. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2016/09/developing-employees-strengths-boosts-sales-profit-and-engagement.