Ten tips from Jane Knight

My friend Jane Knight is the founder of and driving force behind the e-Learning Centre.

    The e-Learning Centre Information site contains links to thousands of selected and reviewed e-learning articles, white papers, research reports; examples of e-learning solutions; vendors of e-learning content, technology and services; as well as  e-learning conferences, seminars, workshops and other e-learning events. The main focus is on adult e-learning, i.e. e-learning in the workplace, in Higher Education and in continuing professional development. The e-Learning Centre Services business offers a range of independent e-learning consultancy services to both Higher Education and corporates.

Remember the old Volkswagen commercial that pictured a Beetle cutting a path through virgin snow and asked "Have you ever wondered how the man who drives the snowplow gets to the snowplow?"

Well, if you've ever wondered where I go when I'm stuck for guidance on an eLearning topic, it's e-Learning Centre. Jane's site is my online learning thesaurus. I don't mean it's a book of words; I am referring back to the original meaning of thesaurus, "treasure house." She picks the crème de la crème. Here, for example, are ten things you must know about eLearning.

Top ten tips for implementing e-learning

by Jane Knight



E-learning is more than just e-training
Most training in organisations still takes place on a very formal basis using the traditional training object - the 'course'. However, it is now well recognised that something like 70% of learning actually takes place informally in organisations, i.e. not in the classroom nor working through an online course, but in everyday working life as employees carry out their jobs - finding out information, reading documents, talking to other colleagues etc. It is these kinds of informal learning activities that need to be supported and encouraged online. E-learning is therefore not just about e-training but also about information, communication, collaboration, performance support and knowledge sharing.



'Quick and dirty' works
Complex, sophisticated, interactive, instructional, multimedia e-learning costs money, takes a long time to build, and may well be out of date by the time it reaches the desktop. In many cases, a simpler solution is more useful since it allows you to respond more quickly and appropriately to a learning need. Consider the provision of just-in-time, bite-sized learning solutions, like an online presentation or job aid instead of an all-singing, all-dancing online course.



Communication and collaboration are the key
It must also not be forgotten that learning is a social activity, and that you can often provide a far more powerful and enduring learning experience through the use of online communities and networks and by encouraging collaboration between learners than you can by placing lots of content online. Make sure you provide opportunities for people to communicate, collaborate and share their knowledge.



The magic is in the mix
More formal learning solutions often work best when they combine a mix of online solutions with traditional, face-to-face activities to create a 'blended' solution. This can provide a more complete and varied learning experience for those who need to work through a learning programme over a period of time.



Learning should be driven by the needs of the individual
Find out what people need to learn for their jobs and how, where and when they want to learn it. Then build learning solutions that meet those needs. Encourage employees to become self-directed and self-sufficient learners - to take responsibility for their own learning - and to help drive the development of e-learning.



If you build it, they won't necessarily use it
Just because you've created some very engaging and compelling e-learning solutions, don't expect learners to come rushing to use them. You will need to overcome some of the organisational and personal barriers to learners' 'buy in' and 'take up' of e-learning. They need to see e-learning as something that truly benefits them and fits their way of learning.



E-learning needs to be tailored to the organisation
There is no magic formula for designing e-learning within an organisation; it will look different in each organisation. It should be tailored to the business objectives, the organisational culture, what employees want to learn and to the personal learning style. By addressing these factors, you will be able to create the most appropriate e-learning solutions for your organisation.



E-learning is a business solution
A well designed e-learning strategy needs to be firmly aligned with business objectives, e.g. increasing productivity or sales, or improving customer loyalty. Many organisations are still overly concerned with the numbers of people being trained, and whether employees have worked through every page of a course or passed all the tests. At the end of the day, it's not about how much employees have learnt, it's about how they¹ve applied their learning, and how the performance of the individual and ultimately the organisation has improved. E-learning, just like learning itself, is a means to an end, not the end itself.



Coordinate your e-learning efforts
HR, IT and the business units need to work together to create an effective e-learning environment. Many organisations have found that different parts of the business have been sold competing solutions by different vendors. There needs to be some central control over the selection of e-learning systems to ensure that purchasing decisions can be justified across the organisation.



Just do it!
Finally, many organisations are spending too long getting going with their e-learning plans. They want to know whether or not something is going to work before they engage in it. The best advice I can offer is: Start small, think big and have a planned approach - but just get started!


Editorial offices of eLearning Centre, Upper Swell, The Cotswolds

Posted by Jay Cross at August 17, 2003 12:44 PM | TrackBack

Thanks for posting this article. Its always important to simplify and stay close to the basic fundamentals of how people actually learn in the work environment. Very useful.

Posted by: Jeff Martin at August 18, 2003 07:04 PM

Great article Jay.
Thanx, Oliver

Posted by: Oliver Emmler at October 28, 2003 12:42 PM

Really excellent summary -- I don't think Jane missed a thing! Thanks for posting this, Jay.


Posted by: Lisa Galarneau at December 15, 2003 03:11 PM

'Saved this article from the NCC site June of 03.
I'm glad I was able to once again find it online.

Posted by: Charlie Sullivan at April 10, 2004 07:31 PM

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