Online or E-Learning

In addition to computer-based training, many companies with employees in a variety of locations across the country are relying on other technologies to deliver training. According to the ASTD “State of the Industry” report, companies are using a record level of e-learning, and ASTD predicts that number will continue to rise. This method is becoming more and more popular as access to the Web becomes more widely available. Some examples include:

Web-based training. This method puts computer-based training modules onto the Web, which companies can then make available to their employees either on the company’s intranet or on a section of the vendor’s website that is set up for your company. There are many courses available on the Internet in many different topic areas. These courses provide a hands-on, interactive way for employees to work through training presentations that are similar to CD-ROM or PowerPoint, on their own. Training materials are standardized because all trainees will use the same program. Materials are also easy to update, so your training is always in step with your industry. Web-based training programs are also often linked with software (a learning management system, or LMS) that makes trainees’ progress trackable, which makes recordkeeping very easy for the training administrator.

Tele- or videoconferencing. These methods allow the trainer to be in one location and trainees to be scattered in several locations. Participants are networked into the central location and can usually ask questions of the trainer via the telephone or by a webchat feature. Lectures and demonstrations can be effective using this method.

Audioconferencing. This method is similar to videoconferencing but involves audio only. Participants dial in at the scheduled meeting time and hear speakers present their training. Question and answer sessions are frequently held at the end of sessions in which participants can email questions or call in and talk to a presenter.

Web meetings, or webinars. This method contains audio and visual components. Participants dial in to receive live audio training and also follow visual material that appears on their computer screens. These presentations are similar to CD-ROM or PowerPoint presentations and sometimes offer minimal online interactivity. Q & A sessions may also be held at the end of sessions.

Online colleges and universities. This method is also known as distance learning, and many schools now offer certificates or degrees through online programs that require only minimal on-campus residency.

Collaborative document preparation. This method requires participants to be linked on the same network. It can be used with coaches and trainees to teach writing reports and technical documents.

E-mail. You can use e-mail to promote or enhance training. Send reminders for upcoming training. Solicit follow-up questions for trainers and/or managers. Conduct training evaluations through e-mail forms.
Advantages

Online or e-learning programs are effective for training across multiple locations.
They save the company money on travel expenses.
They can be a less expensive way to get training from expert industry professionals and consultants from outside the company.
They are useful for refresher training.
They are good for self-directed learning.
They can be easy to update with new company policies or procedures, federal regulations, and compliance issues.
They offer trainers a growing array of choices for matching training programs to employee knowledge and skill levels.
Disadvantages

These programs require trainees to be computer literate.
They are usually generic and not customized to your company’s needs.
Some employees may not like the impersonal nature of this training.
Employees may be too intimidated by the technology or the remoteness of the trainer to ask questions.
Lack of computer terminals or insufficient online time may restrict or preclude access to training.

Inadequate or outdated hardware devices (e.g., sound cards, graphics accelerators, and local area networks) can cause programs to malfunction.

Your company’s Internet servers may not have enough bandwidth to receive the materials.
Self-instruction offers limited opportunities to receive context-specific expert advice or timely response to questions

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