The e-learning industry is currently undergoing a technological breakthrough which will allow trainers to overcome the frustration of years of having to compromise their e-learning dreams. Mike Alcock, Managing Director of Atlantic Link Ltd and a committee member of the E-learning Network says that e-learning will at last fulfil its promise by returning control to trainers rather than programmers.
Trainers have always had something of a love-hate relationship with e-learning. They knew in their hearts that e-learning offered wonderful opportunities in the delivery of training at a distance, in simulation environments and in melding online with classroom learning.
Retention could be improved through the availability of modular revision sessions and great savings could be achieved through delivering training quickly and easily in the user’s workplace environment. All this was the positive side of e-learning and yet trainers have learned, through bitter experience, that all has not been as rosy in the e-learning garden as they had hoped.
The Problem With E-learning:
The core problems focused around cost and control, because e-learning was an information technology that needed to be developed by information technology experts. The need to involve computer programmers in the development process meant that conventional trainers lost the close control of the project that they desired.
Clear visions of what was wanted in a piece of learning sometimes had to be compromised as the brief was discussed with programmers and project timing and cost control was often at the mercy of in-house or external programmers. Many trainers have been frustrated at having to accept a second best piece of e-learning as issues of cost and inflexible development have compromised their original bold vision.
Help Is At Hand:
However, the world of e-learning is at the start of a major technology shift which will mean that the trainers who have been frustrated, rather than uplifted, by the use of e-learning will discover they have the power to produce exactly what they want, when they want and at prices which will keep the Finance Director happy.
The important changes come principally from software that has been developed for building websites to satisfy the demand for more attractive web content and easier development. Authoring tools are being established that allow e-learning courses to be produced much more easily, with much more attractive interactive content. Crucially, these allow much greater input from non-IT specialists. It is now possible for an only moderately computer-literate trainer to produce highly sophisticated e-learning courses simply using software tools with intuitive graphical user interfaces.
Developers of e-learning authoring software tools, including Atlantic Link, are now able to provide trainers with tools that allow them to produce their own sophisticated e-learning. Even where a trainer chooses to continue to outsource authoring they can expect to receive a product that they will be able to amend and extend themselves using the same tools as the developer.
Early Adopters of the new authoring technology are finding that they are able to make stunning advances, giving them immediate competitive advantages.
A typical example is our customer Optimum Contact Solutions, part of the Littlewoods Shop Direct Group, providing telesales facilities to the largest home shopping business in the UK.
Optimum was frustrated with its traditional classroom led training which they found time consuming and inflexible in relation to matching learning styles and also inflexible when it came to making changes. The training techniques had to include dummy systems which did not reflect the reality of live systems. Training was also paper and administration heavy. E-learning had previously proved too expensive and cumbersome in development to provide a solution.
Optimum looked at new technology e-learning authoring solutions and were won over by the flexibility of the new tools that they saw. Initially Optimum’s trainers wanted e-learning to be created for them, but they soon realised that the tools were sufficiently flexible for them to make their own amendments,
Using e-learning Optimum was able to reduce training time by a third. It has gone on to produce more training packages in house and has an ongoing development plan for e-learning.
Clare Martin, Head of Learning and Development says “The e-learning authoring software has changed the way we train, making us far more effective and efficient in our delivery methods, whilst ensuring the highest standards of learner and customer experience are achieved. It has also been a key enabler in allowing us to be far more responsive to change, that is. developing new training packages quickly, with limited resource.
We are also able to train larger groups without having to use additional trainers, which means that the training teams can add more value through coaching and soft skills training, as opposed to focusing on pure process training.”