E-learning is now the most popular form of distance learning. It’s easily bypassed and outdistanced the old correspondence course approach to distance learning, which used the post (and perhaps carrier pigeon?) to ferry papers and coursework backwards and forwards, between student and teacher.
The Improved Virtual Classroom
E-learning has brought so much more into its domain that just studying remotely. It’s introduced interactivity and peer coursework intercourse into play. With new technology like podcasts, infographics, and live video streaming etc, it has created a virtual classroom that’s as good, if not in many respects better, than the old, conventional classroom.
Of course, e-learning has also been introduced into the enterprise as a means to train staff in cost-effective and bespoke ways, depending on what’s needed.
Discontent is the Mother of Invention
But no one is ever easily satisfied these days; and indeed why should they be? After all, if no one had ever complained about the status quo, we wouldn’t have the Internet available in the first place. Where would e-learning be then I ask you? Answers from paddle-less creek travellers on a postcard please!
But enough of this banter….
The people who use e-learning the most – the business community – sometimes get restless. There are several common observations that the majority make, and this should influence your choices when it comes to settling on a provider.
Complaint No 1 – The Cost of Lack of Standardisation
One of the most common complaints that comes across from the businesses that utilise e-learning as their chosen methodology to train their employees, is the high costs that are associated with many packages. Modern e-learning methodologies are based on utilising the service provider’s particular Learning Management System (LMS).
Unfortunately, many e-learning service providers have their own take on LMSs; a take that makes their own version incompatible with most other service provider’s versions. Sound familiar? It’s a bit like power leads for laptops. Every manufacturer uses a different plug configuration. They can even vary from model to model, even though they’re made by the same manufacturer.
This uniqueness in LMS configuration is clearly a device used by e-learning service providers to tie customers into their brand. It’s very short sighted and costs businesses a lot of money. But they’re forced into the situation because the service provider (SP) they used previously doesn’t operate the next course the business needs to use. However, an e-learning provider that offers a compatible product which a company can use to effectively brand its own LMS will be the one that wins out. This is due to the nature of how learners operate. They instinctively feel that if the LMS is company branded (rather than provider branded) then they are giving the company itself more value when they take the course.
This builds engagement with the learning platform and the student and essentially, the company.
Course Confusion – Sorting the Wheat from the Chaff
The second out of the three most common complaints, is the difficulty that businesses experience when trying to find appropriate courses for their staff. The problem is the huge number of courses that are available when you take all current SPs into account.
There’s another issue that often comes up here too, and that’s to do with the way that SPs catalogue their courses. The problem is twofold. Firstly, there’s the large range of choice. Now on the surface, that my seem a good thing, and yes, in this case, it’s certainly better to have too much, rather than too little, to choose from.
When you’re looking at recognised course, like degrees for example, you’ve got a good idea of the content or curriculum. But when you’re looking at specialised trade training, such as something like say managing CRM in the website design industry, there are any number of related courses that might foot the bill.
First of all you’ve got to round up the various courses that are on offer. This in itself isn’t an easy task given that so many e-learning SPs go about cataloguing their course range in such a higgledy-piggledy way. Then you’ve to go through the content of each course in order to compare what they cover, and which is the most suitable.
It can all be quite bewildering, especially if it’s the first foray that a business is making into the e-learning maze. However, e-learning providers do also offer bespoke LMSs which are tailored to the company needs, which seems like a sensible choice.
Widening the Field of Choice
When businesses are looking for an e-learning SP, ideally they want to find one that offers a wide range of training courses that cover all their needs. It’s so much easier if they have one source to choose from, and only have to purchase one LMS plus the odd update when necessary.
Pie and Custard
The problem is that the e-learning industry has grown so fast, that lots of new SPs have appeared on the scene, each eager for a slice of the pie. But many simply don’t give businesses enough custard. Their course choice is too limited and their presentation is not up to par. But not all e-learning SPs fall short of the mark. There are some out there who serve excellent apple pie with lashings of custard, and cream too.
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