Is Your Organization Ready For eLearning? Find Out For Real

Find Out: Is Your Organization Ready For eLearning?

Let’s face it. Apart from being a very successful and sought after method of corporate training, eLearning is also known to be a failure in many organizations. The fault, however, is not with the eLearning product or with eLearning itself. Rather it’s the organization’s haste to implement it and glean immediate results that lead to the failure of the project. eLearning can transform your organization’s training needs, but requires proper preparation if its full benefits are to be realized. One part of this preparation involves assessing the readiness of your organization for the change eLearning will bring about. This assessment is of such importance that it is recommended a specialist be engaged to perform a survey in order to answer the question "Is the organization ready for eLearning?".

Ideally, an assessment that surveys the eLearning readiness of an organization should consider the following "readiness" areas: Psychological, social, environmental, human resource, technological, financial, and content.

1. Psychological Readiness

It is vitally important that your whole organization be enthused and on board for your project, not just the learners; here’s how you can ensure this happens:

  • Management should be enthusiastic and seen to drive the project forward.
  • Learners must be included from the start in the planning process and not just when the implementation commences.
  • Resistance to change must be quantified and a strategy devised to eliminate it.
  • Level of computer literacy of learners must be assessed and pre-training introduced.
  • Individual learners’ attitude and suitability for eLearning must be assessed.

2. Social Readiness 

Compared to classroom training, eLearning is a more social and collaborative learning process. It teaches people to learn and work in groups to be more productive. The assessment identifies:

  • Learners who have difficulty working in a team..
  • Group attitudes to individual success.
  • The diversity of the group.
  • Suitability of the current monitoring and reward system.

This is a difficult area to assess, but pays dividends as it highlights hidden problems that can derail the implementation phase.

3. Environmental Awareness 

There will be factors outside your control which must be considered. These will vary depending on the size, global spread, and industry type:

  • Language barriers within a workforce, maybe located in different countries.
  • Legal constraints in employee contracts.
  • Cultural constraints between groups, maybe between different countries.
  • The number of learners involved.

Some or all of these factors may need professional help to prepare for.

4. Human Resource Readiness 

In the long term, an eLearning system will greatly reduce the HR resources required, but during the planning and implementation stage required resources will increase greatly. During the planning stage, additional resources will be needed to:

  • Assess every learner involved.
  • Survey training manuals.
  • Provide stakeholders to liaise with the vendor.
  • Monitor and approve storyboards and trial modules.

The implementation stage requires large resources to ensure speedy commissioning of the system, as follows:

  • Monitoring of each module as the vendor completes them.
  • Stakeholders and champion training to oversee implementation training.
  • Training of the learners themselves.
  • Scheduling and logging the progress of training sessions.
  • Logging of individual training, and providing feedback.
  • Updating and debugging of modules as training progresses.

Yes, quite a list, isn’t it? For the success of your system, it is essential that these resources be available. If your organization is short on resources, you will have to hire or the vendor will have to provide them, but however done, it is essential that there is no faltering during the implementation stage due to a lack of resources. This will demotivate learners and get your eLearning system off to a bad start.

5. Technological Readiness 

eLearning is a technology-based system. It affects not only the learners, but everyone in the organization, from the very top to the very bottom. The degree of familiarity with technology and technical terms can dictate the speed of implementation and even the shape of the system itself. An assessment must be made of the following skills:

  • Computer familiarity.
  • Connectivity ability for online access.
  • Input ability.
  • Knowledge of computer terminology.

In all companies there will be a varying degree of comfort with devices. It is essential that everyone be brought to a level where they will be comfortable using the new system, through training where necessary.

There may be a situation where a large section of the workforce is not computer literate, in which case it may be necessary to change the eLearning system itself to cope with this.

Whatever the situation, it is essential that remedial actions be taken at the planning stage - any later will lead to disaster.

6. Financial Readiness 

An eLearning system is a long term project, and it is essential that financial resources be available to carry the whole exercise to fruition. A full costing of every facet must be prepared in advance, presented in a business plan, and approved in full. The main cost headings are:

  • Vendor costs.
  • New IT infrastructure.
  • Additional personnel resources.
  • Training costs - underestimate at your peril!
  • Cost of disruption during implementation.
  • Contingency fund - things will go wrong.

A good vendor will help you work up this budget, but talking to someone who has already gone through the process is essential too. Invariably, training costs are underestimated or pared back to have a business plan accepted. Just remember that a superb eLearning system is no use if personnel do not know how to use it to its full potential!

7. Content Readiness

Organizations invariably use their current ILT (instructor-led training) material, in some form or the other, for their eLearning project – often misjudging the readiness of this content. There are content readiness tools available that will tell you how stable and complete your current training material is. Content assessment must take into account the following:

  • Existing content.
  • Personalization that must be made to the content.
  • Goals of the course.
  • Available multimedia content.
  • Assessments that will be used.
  • How often the subject matter changes.
  • If the existing content can be migrated into an eLearning format.
  • If the content matter will change during the design and development change (stability).

Final Word

It seems like a lot for just an ‘assessment’ of how ready your organization is for eLearning – and frankly, it is a lot. But every bit of this readiness assessment must be fulfilled – and the larger the investment and the more complex your eLearning venture, the greater the need to carry out this assessment. So, is your organization ready for eLearning? If you do find that it is not ready just now, it does not mean that you cannot implement eLearning; it just means you need to prepare your employees and management for the change and get them on board, before implementation begins.

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