eLearning In Non-Tech Industries: A Round Up

 A Round Up Of eLearning In Non-Tech Industries

eLearning is associated with training people with white collar jobs; these are people with ready access to the internet and Learning Management System tools that are quintessential to impart remote training. Here is a brief note on eLearning in non-tech industries, i.e. how it is impacting people in industries where computer technology is not widespread.

eLearning In Automobile Industry

The automobile industry faces a unique challenge when it comes to imparting uniform training across geographies. Companies like General Motors and Toyota own dozens of factories and assembling plants across several countries. Blue collar workers in these factories often do not understand English and it is necessary to impart training in vernacular languages. Traditionally, this required training the trainers from these different geographies with uniform practices and hoping that the message does not get lost in transmission.

eLearning solves this critical problem by replacing trainers with audio-visual clips that can be seamlessly translated from one language to another. There are typically 3 learning modules for blue collar workers in the automobile industry - these modules deal with the products, processes and soft skills respectively. While soft skills modules do not need extensive customization and so are not necessarily challenging to build, the modules for product and processes are often customized to deal with local needs and requirements.

For instance, an assembly plant that deals with one model of cars will need an eLearning system that uses photos, videos, and animation that are specific to this car model. This makes it necessary for the company to build a master learning system that deals with all kinds of cars and parts that are being manufactured and assembled. Once done, the master system can be used to package training programs specific to particular factories and assembling shops. This is delivered to the blue collar workers in these locations after the module has been translated to the vernacular language.

eLearning In Mining And Ancillary Industries

Mining industries, like those of diamond, have blue collar workers in two specific segments of work - those who are directly involved in the mining process, and those who are associated with ancillary industries like diamond cutting, polishing, etc. According to Stella Carthy, the head of skills development at the Chamber of Mines (CoM) in South Africa, the industry is facing a serious skills shortage among miners owing to the time it takes to train a worker and the unavailability of good lecturers and facilitators.

Existing eLearning programs have not produced the desired results because most of the training materials are sourced from the company’s marketing and information campaigns. Also, learners are yet to accept eLearning as a serious form of training and are hence not completely involved during the training process. In essence, there is a gap between the corporate objectives and those of the learners.

However a lot of resistance is being overcome by younger miners who are more comfortable with technology and eLearning systems. Corporations too have realized the need to replace compulsory theory based eLearning systems with video and animation based learning packages that add value to the miners’ jobs and make them better trained at what they do.

Outside of mining, the acceptance for eLearning has been higher among workers in ancillary industries. Besides video-based learning programs for cutting and polishing related activities, a number of gemology based training centers also train workers in appraising and grading that help these workers move up the ladder in their careers. The appraising and grading of diamonds is a skilled and technical process that requires training and experience.

eLearning In Manufacturing

Besides the regular training and soft skills development among blue collar workers, one of the biggest contributions of eLearning in the manufacturing industry is in continuous learning. Manufacturing requires workers who are multi-skilled and can perform a variety of tasks. Similar to the automobile industry, manufacturing at large too faces the challenge of workers dispersed across several geographies that leads to cultural and language barriers. As a result, imparting effective continuous learning programs to train workers on multiple skills can be a challenge in the absence of eLearning.

Some patterns have emerged across all these various industries. Educators have realized a high dropout rate among eLearners from the blue collar worker segment. Common reasons for this include poor incentives to learn, a lack of accountability to completing courses and the inhibitions with technology. A lot of this can be attributed to the poor design of the eLearning courses themselves.

In areas like manufacturing where there are layoffs owing to skills-shortage, workers are realizing the importance of being multi-skilled and this has provided with a ‘stick’-based incentive to learn. In the absence of such incentives, the onus is on the management to create ‘carrot’-based incentives and design courses that workers can better relate to in order to meet their corporate objectives.

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