by December 4, 2001 0 comments



Every vendor trying to sell his e-learning solution has his very own definition of the term. It could be learning off the Web, putting up lessons on the corporate intranet, video broadcasting, CD-ROM-based training in conjunction with real-time online personal help, or a combination of these elements. The underlying thought is that learning isn’t bound by place or time, and it happens at the pace of the student. You can learn almost anything with e-learning, from computer basics to programming, new technologies and soft skills like management and plenty more.

Classroom + E

This is a new attempt by a training company, Dexler Information Solutions, based in
Bangalore. They call this interactive e-training. The tenet is that the presence of an instructor is very crucial to a person’s learning. So, classes are also held just like how a regular instructor-led training is scheduled. Students log into the learning management server and start their own customized training. Each student has a customized CD, which has a combination of slides and videos. He can chat with the instructor through text or voice and get real-time answers to his questions. To maintain the context of each student’s question, a small file is sent from his machine to the instructor’s machine that has the time stamp of the video clip that the student is going through. The CD has projects and questions that he has to complete or answer and send. He can’t move forward through his CD otherwise. A series of such sessions later, a contact class is held.

The advantages of e-learning are many. You could have employees anywhere in the world, and still make the same training content available to them. You also save time on traveling to attend training sessions. The content can also be made available quickly so that training can happen in time for your projects to start. Learning needn’t happen only when the classroom sessions get scheduled. E-learning also gives room for each person’s learning style and pace, leading to better retention and comprehension.

But e-learning doesn’t provide face-to-face interactions, which is important when learning soft skills. It’s very well to have created a system that gives the employees access to learning content at any time of the day or night. But since it is a sort of as-you-like-it, the number of really serious takers may turn out to be few.

On the Net. Here each person is on his own. Go to one of the e-learning websites, register yourself, pay up and take the course. In virtual classrooms collaboration can happen between the participants and the teacher. You have a specified time to wrap up the course in. Some also give established certifications.

The intranet. Put up your training content on your intranet. You can also get companies like IBM and Tata Infotech who have e-learning services, to put up customized content for you. You could add online chat with instructors and students. Unlike with the Web option, here you can have content that suits your specific needs.

Some e-learning services 

IBM www.3.ibm.com/services/learning/  
Tata
Infotech
www.tatainfotecheducation.co 
GurukulOnline www.gurukulonline.com 
Aptech  www.onlinevarsity.com
NIIT www.netvarsity.com 

On a third-party website. This is similar to the intranet option, except that the content is put up on the server maintained by an e-learning company. There will be pages dedicated to your company and only authorized people can enroll for the courses customized for your company. Again this will have virtual collaboration with fellow students and so on. Network and Internet bandwidth become issues here.

In all these, the focus is on the learner. He decides when to take the training, for how long and what he wants from it. The content, course design and delivery need to be crafted for the learner here. Remember that the level of all learners isn’t the same. Just converting your existing training material to HTML and putting them up is not enough. It becomes imperative to be tuned to the needs of individual employees.

Suma EP

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