Cliftons is constantly being asked by clients if we support e-learning. It’s an area of increasing interest and many training courses now promote that they support it.
The answer to the question is of course “Yes”.
Cliftons supports many of the key elements of e-learning that help organizations, trainers, facilitators and project managers build a flexible or blended learning experience.
So what is e-learning?
E-learning covers many different types of online and computer based training types. These then break off into several areas depending whether delivery is fixed, instructor-led or interactive.
E-learning also includes self-paced or scheduled learning, classroom computer training, webinars, online forums, online quizzes, teleconferencing, video demonstrations and the one we all love – those ‘online tests’ we’re all subjected to. Most companies that do online training rely on powerful tool called a learning management system.
The Australian Flexible Learning Framework breaks the different types of learning into three tiers, ranging from low interactivity to high interactivity.
Low interactivity includes those fixed or static types of learning such as PowerPoint presentations, audio sessions and e-books, whereas high interactivity includes chat rooms videoconferencing and more real-time activities including games.
Some of the fixed types of learning include materials supplied on disc or in PDF format through download, basically replacing the old correspondence-type courses, just with less paper involved. There is a general move away from these to include more interactive real time content through the use of webinars. Again these vary in sophistication and delivery skills.
The different types of e-learning can be combined to create a training program that is tailored and relevant to learners’ needs. Include this with face-to-face learning and practical on the job training to provide a truly blended learning experience.
Developing a range of materials in varying formats allows trainers to provide this flexible learning environment and is the key to getting the most out of the opportunities offered with e-learning.
How can I use e-learning?
Breaking down training into modules is a perfect way to structure e-learning strategies. Modules using self-pace computer instruction or video instruction and online activities, questionnaires, exams or challenges are the perfect way to allow employees to learn at their own pace but also can allow instructors to monitor progress and understanding on a real-time basis.
An example may be that ACME Mining has upgraded their online management system that now links all their office facilities in the capital cities to its mining operations across Australia.
ACME Mining could provide a webinar using specialists to introduce the system and field questions from staff. Given the right set up, this could happen while employees are at their desks, or in a dedicated computer training facility. The company could also use video conferencing if it was launching the system to the whole organisation and give demonstrations. This may also be complimented by an introductory video that can be viewed at any time for existing and new staff.
Instruction manuals with skills activities and tests can be placed in public areas on the server and a forum or Q&A area could also be utilised to give employees a voice and enable them to ask questions or discuss issues with fellow users.
There are many possible combinations available to produce a flexible learning environment for ongoing skills training or for big and small change projects. With training projects involving lots of learners it is always advisable to consider training facilities that offer infrastructure to facilitate trainer led sessions, which is also a great way to build shared knowledge and experience to use in the workplace.