In the last four decades, economic and technological forces have transformed the U.S. economy from a production-based economy to a service based economy. The new economy puts a premium on intellectual capital and Life-long learning has become an imperative.
E-learning as a Weapon
Today’s workforce has to process more information in a shorter amount of time. New products and services are emerging with accelerating speed. As production cycles and life spans of products continue to shorten, information and training quickly become obsolete. Training managers feel the urgency to deliver knowledge and skills more rapidly and efficiently whenever and wherever needed. In the age of just-in-time production, just-in-time training becomes a critical element to organizational success.
Corporations now view learning increasingly as a competitive weapon rather than an annoying cost factor. Business success depends more and more on high-quality employee performance, which in turn requires high-quality training. Corporate executives are beginning to understand that enhancing employee skills is key to creating a sustainable competitive advantage.
E-learning To the Rescue
But for global organizations, live classroom-based training is becoming too costly and cumbersome. Even if employees had the time to attend all the courses and seminars and to read all the books and reports they should to remain up-to-date in their area of work, the cost of such learning would be prohibitive. The need to transform how organizations learn points to a more modern, efficient, and flexible alternative: e-learning. The mission of corporate e-learning is to supply the workforce with an up-to-date and cost-effective program that yields motivated, skilled, and loyal knowledge workers.
The growth of the World Wide Web, high-capacity corporate networks, and high-speed desktop computers has made e-learning available to people 24 hours a day, seven days a week around the globe. This enables businesses to distribute training and critical information to multiple locations easily and conveniently. Employees can then access training when it is convenient for them, at home or in the office.
Virtual collaboration between participants is the most important element of successful implementation of online education. The true power of the Web lies in its ability to create collaborative learning communities that introduce real-time human interaction.
Electronic learning solutions offer more collaboration and interaction with experts and peers as well as a higher success rate than the live alternative. Teaching and communication techniques create an interactive online environment include case studies, story-telling, simulations, streamed videos, online references, personalized coaching and mentoring, discussion groups, project teams, chat rooms, e-mail, bulletin boards, tips, tutorials, FAQs, and wizards.
Increasing global competition, rapid technological advances, demographic changes, and the emergence of a service- and knowledge based economy force organizations to train and re-train their workforce in new ways. Companies that deploy and effectively utilize e-learning will have a distinct competitive advantage.
The Internet presents companies with numerous possibilities for leveraging knowledge and education resources. It redefines e-learning not only in terms of better delivery, but also more current, dynamic educational content, more personalized, relevant learning experiences, and more collaboration with experts and peers.