Plant & Equipment

The Value of Electronic Learning

Electronic learning (or eLearning) is hot and for good reason. If done right, it can produce great results by decreasing costs and improving performance. Also, unlike a single classroom session, the eLearning course is available for others. This includes the static eLearning course, as well as any ongoing conversations in networked communities.

Recently, I had a conversation with someone new to eLearning and it struck me that he didn?t fully understand its value. I think this is common as more people are joining the world of eLearning. Understanding eLearning?s value helps you make the best decisions about when and why to use it.

eLearning supports an organisation?s goals through:
?    Improved training costs. Producing learning content is time-consuming, whether online or not. With eLearning, each time the course is accessed, your return on investment improves because you are dividing the fixed production costs by a number of uses. There are also savings in decreased travel, reduced materials and improved (and more efficient) performance.
?    Decreased material costs. Let?s say you have to train how to use equipment in a work environment. If you had to use the real environment, it would be costly. Even setting up a fake environment has material costs and labour. By creating the environment online and letting the learner practise, there are no costs associated with set-up, use and clean-up.
?    Increased productivity. Because eLearning is not bound by geography or time, you can control training?s impact on production by training people in down times. In addition, with the current economy, you?re asking people to do more with less. So eLearning gives them the tools and skills needed to enhance their performance.
?    Standardisation. You may have a great facilitator, but that?s no guarantee that the courses are presented the same way across sessions. eLearning creates a standardised process in the delivery of content. It also compresses delivery time.
eLearning supports the learner?s development through:
?    Real-time access. Live learning events require participants to align their schedules to the training calendar. eLearning eliminates this because the course can be accessed anytime, anywhere.
?    Freedom to fail. Real learning requires some failure but no one likes to fail in a classroom full of other people. eLearning lets you fail without fear. This encourages exploration and testing of ideas. With the right feedback you create a great learning environment. Worst case, you can always start over, something you can?t do in class.
?    Improved retention. The combination of multimedia and instructional design can produce a rich, repeatable learning experience. Throw in some good practice activities with feedback and you have a learning environment that helps your learners retain the course content.
?    Personalised learning. Look out the window at your parking lot. My guess is that you?ll see a dozen or more different cars. They all do the same thing yet we have personal opinions about what we drive. The same for learning. Learners want control. eLearning allows you to offer control to the learners in a way that classroom learning does not.
eLearning nurtures a learning organisation and community through:
?    Ongoing access to resources. If you take a class in the real world and need a refresher, you better hope that you have good notes. With eLearning, you ideally continue to have access to the online content and resources to brush up on what you learned.
?    Knowledge management. Many people see eLearning as only the authored courses. But eLearning includes all sorts of online technologies. If you incorporate tools that allow collaboration and conversation, you can capture organisational knowledge that is available for future learners.
?    Encourage sharing. The foundation of a learning community is built on sharing what you know with others. This is where incorporating a forum or wiki adds value to your eLearning. Depending on the course?s structure, you can encourage sharing of course resources and insights.
?    Employer of choice. People want opportunities to grow. A catalogue with all sorts of eLearning courses allows them to explore other opportunities in the organisation. Offering more opportunities to learn makes you a place where people want to stay.

In 2012, the IQA will introduce five eLearning units to the quarrying industry:
?    Hydraulic classification.
?    Washing and primary separation.
?    Methods of working.
?    Feeders.
?    Crushing.

To add an IQA flavour to these units, we refer to an eLearning unit as an electronic Professional Development Program ? or ePDP. The IQA?s ePDP units are cost-effective and can produce great results. It?s all a matter of how you use it. I encourage you to keeping checking the ?Education & PDP? tab on the IQA?s website ? ? for the latest ePDP offerings.?

Paul Sutton is the IQA General Manager. Email:

Leave a Reply

Send this to a friend