e-Learning – Just as Good or Not the Same?

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This topic contains 11 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by  Doug Tharp 8 years, 2 months ago.

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  • #152216

    Steve Ressler

    I’ve read a lot of articles lately that government is focusing more and more on e-learning with decreasing travel budgets.

    I’m curious from those that have done e-learning at work what their experience is like. Is it just as good (or even better) or not the same?

    -What do you like about it? What don’t you like about it?

    -What formats do you like? Some seem to be 1 week class online and some seem to take whenever you want?

    -What subjects work well for e-learning (perhaps more tactical?)? What subjects don’t work well?

    -Any examples of good ones you’ve been to? Why you liked it?

  • #152238

    Doug Tharp

    The unfortunate part of this is that the budget is the main focus and often times the quality of the training is not considered. We have been doing more eLearning at the NRC, and most of it has not been very good. Designing training for eLearning is much different than for classroom presentations, but most managers see the cost benefit of reducing travel and materials cost and are over anxious to put the same old bullet-point slides used in a classroom discussion into an electronic format that can be presented through the LMS. Adding mono-tone narration and a quiz at the end may meet the requirement to say someone has completed training, but this does not ensure they have the knowledge or skill they’ll need to succeed in the job.

    I’m currently leading a development team in an effort to identify the best eLearning methodologies and the eLearning tools to adopt at NRC. If anyone has experience in the transition process of taking more learning from classroom to on-line, I’d appreciated your insights.

  • #152236


    Elearning is good for the type that is self motivated, but only if management allows the time for it. There is the tendency to think that can be done on your own time. That doesn’t happen often. It is nice to have a virtual class with a live instructor so that you can still interact, but the self paced programs are wonderful for those who just want to get done.

    The subjects that don’t work well are those where it is good to do the actual work and see the results hands-on.

    I love the Franklin Covey courses.

  • #152234

    Steve Ressler

    Exactly…what have you been finding in your research about what methodologies work?

    I’m particularly fascinated with sites like codeacademy.com which is about elearning for coding…and treehouse which is for design & coding – http://teamtreehouse.com/?cid=101

    Seems much more modern/interactive/etc…

  • #152232

    Doug Tharp

    I’m leaning toward virtual classroom and video. The virtual classroom will allow us to keep the personal interaction and sharing of experiences which provide great benifit to the other learners, and video, like ej4, http://ej4.com produces, because this is a method we’ve all been used to learning from since we started watching Saturday morning cartoons. The biggest challenge in converting current training material is finding the blended solution that presents each learing objective using the optimal methedology. At the same time, we are working on building 3D models of nuclear power plants and each component in the plant systems to be used either in classroom presentations or as stand-alone on-line modules that an inspector can use to not only learn how something works, but refer back to when there is an actual issue with the component, without having to physically be in the plant. Some of these are being incorporated into a gaming platform (movements similar to Modern Warfare) that allows the user to move around throughout the power plant and look at different systems and components without being in a radiation field. In the end, I think an organization will need the capability to employ multiple methodologies depending on the content and audience. This is definitely not a one-size fits all endeavor. My main source for eLearning information and trends is http://www.elearninglearning.com which I read daily.

  • #152230

    Don Fitchett

    As a training provider, I might have some extra perspective for this discussion. Of course it is obvious that e-Learning is not as good as and instructor giving hands on training. Close to being as different as reading an outdated book is to hands-on training by a 20 year veteran. But that is just a general statement, which is where the subject mater being taught and technology involved in e-Learning come in to play.

    To expand on the above with extreme examples …

    Example 1: For most to learn MS Excel, they could easily read a book and/or use help file. But an e-Learning course by experienced instructor with tips, tricks, best practices on just the most commonly needed information would be much better than a book.

    Example 2: For most to learn rebuilding a water pump, one would almost have to have hands-on instructor based training, a book wouldn’t cut it. (damage to man or machine likely.:>)

    In example 2, I stated almost, because it depends on the level of technology involved in the e-Learning platform. Like Nasa’s real-world interactive simulation training software is the next best thing to having an instructor, and better in some respects because there is no risk to damage of man or machine. But using the most common type of e-Learning that is basically a PowerPoint with questions, wouldn’t cut it. (there is a welding simulation training software too, in the category of not working as on-line training)

    When you evolve to truly interactive training software like we have, a custom LMS has to be developed. SCORM and AIC standards are a training barrier as they can not handle (track) real-world interactions and simulations. Like we offer interactive Electrical Troubleshooting training software. Our custom LMS for that training software has to not only ask question and record answers, it tracks time, attempts, best practices used, safety procedures used or not used and more, to properly test student for proper training. The real-world simulations while giving that hands-on experience that would otherwise take many years for student to accumulate, can’t be delivered on-line as typical e-Learning because of band width and storage limitations.

    Another good example is our Troubleshooting PLC Circuits training software released today. A PLC controls entire manufacturing plants, city water, power etc., so interaction with actual equipment comes with even greater risk of damage to man or machine. So the real-world interactive training software is the best way to go. Whether student is going it alone or an instructor is using software as tool to teach students.

    So in summary, the subject being taught is the first factor in determining if e-Learning – Just as Good or Not the Same. The second main factor is the technology being used in e-Learning. Is it just a PowerPoint with questions or real-world interactive simulation.

    Hope this insight helps.


  • #152228

    Steve Ressler

    What are the Franklin Covey courses like?

  • #152226

    Steve Cottle

    I’m a fan of e-learning, when it means interacting with a live instructor, but dread it when it means listening to a recorded voice and watching rudimentary animations and slide shows. I’ve taken about 200 hours of electronic and live learning courses over the past five years and have found that the prerecorded courses simply can’t compare to those courses in which a live instructor can “read” the audience, interact, and answer questions. The technology that can help make e-learning a valuable experience is ubiquitous, but it takes as much planning and execution as a live course to do it well.

  • #152224

    Rennette Fortune

    Based on some feedback I’ve gotten, a good eLearning site is cyberFEDS eLearning. It’s specifically designed for federal employment law professionals to meet their training needs. These courses are conveniently available 24/7, allowing federal HR law professionals a convenient way to meet training requirements at any time in any place. Each course takes approximately 1.5 to 2 hours to complete, so cyberFEDS eLearning fits into even the busiest schedules. All the eLearning courses meet the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (ANSI/IACET) standards to ensure Federal HR law professionals receive the highest quality training.

    cyberFEDS eLearning covers a wide variety of HR issues such as discrimination, harassment, diversity, arbitration, No Fear Act plus many more. All courses are reviewed and developed by federal-employment attorneys and professionals considered experts in their field to ensure each course provides accurate, authoritative and up-to-date content.

    New courses are constantly added, for a complete list please visit http://www.lrp.com/cfelearn/

  • #152222

    Steve Ressler

    Anyone had experience with college online courses? How do they differ than work e-learning?

    I’m guest lecturing at GSA Web Mgr Social Media class next week and kind of interesting format

    12 weeks

    -90 minutes in-person each week

    -Homework & discussion in between (done in a GovLoop group but could be any online platform)

  • #152220

    Paul Jerram, PMP

    Here at Management Concepts, we have a fairly decent sized set of virtual (aka instructor-led online) courses and several online courses (more like the self-paced training mentioned here in this post). Particularly here in our Project and Program Management division, we echo the sentiments of many in eLearning who follow a fundamental precept – if you start with bad content, don’t expect it to be better content because it’s delivered virtually. In fact, it may well wind up being part of an even worse training experience for participants.

    Particularly in our virtual delivery (instructor-led online) training, one of the keys has been to first do a thorough assessment of our training content to determine suitability in the virtual classroom, and if needed, to adjust the content before ever attempting to offer it and deliver it virtually.

    Also critical is to ensure that our instructor-led online classes are extremely interactive, utilizing a variety of online tools, whiteboards, polling questions and breakout rooms to keep students active and engaged. Our instructors even encourage the use of virtual “office hours” to chat with participants before or after class, if students request it.

    And while we are talking about instructors, it’s important to acknowledge that instructor – led online training is simply not for everyone – and that goes for instructors too. While we’ve found that many instructors can really “step up their game” to ensure students are actively engaged and participating etc., for some instructors, they simply can’t give up that physical “face time” they get with students in traditional learning situations.

    An interesting statistic and some comments from some of our participants in instructor – led online sessions late last year, which talk to how effective this kind of training can be:

    80%+ of respondents reported a “very positive experience” with their instructor-led online training, and made comments (and these are all pretty representative of many of the survey responses) like:

    “No travel costs and I seemed to pay more attention due to the shorter days.” (Note that we use a ½ day delivery model, with the training spread over two weeks)
    “The technology out-performed my expectation for the interactive nature of the course!”
    “Each four hour session seemed to go by in a snap.”
    “It was engrossing to keep track of everything that was happening.”

    So successful virtual instructor-led online training delivery seems to be a combination of these very important factors. It’s clearly not only “all about the budget” although that’s important. Doing everything to ensure that participants walk away with a rich, interactive training experience utilizing effective tools that add to that experience – plus good content and effective instructors – are all key. That plus no travel expenses can lead to a very happy customer!

  • #152218

    Henry Brown

    MIT’s new program addresses some of the concerns(quality;evaluation amongst others) some have over E-learning, although it does not significantly address the major issue of COST, would offer that MOST E-learning courses probably do not significantly reduce the cost of training. The cost of MOST “good” e-learning courses online will in alot of cases more than offset the savings of NO perdiem and there is always the issue of how the time to take/complete the course is computed…

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