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Everyone knows what e-learning is, don't you think? Well, within our experience, they really don't. However , when individuals discuss 'e-learning', or online learning, they're normally thinking about or visualising the content they see on their screen. But that's forget about 'learning' than if they were holding a magazine in their hands, even when they were reading it. So, although obviously important, content alone isn't 'learning'. Real e-learning includes content, for sure, but equal focus, if not more, should be provided to the process and support to provide a true chance to learn.

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How to get it right...

Staff training programmes (from short courses to formal qualifications) where categories of individuals are being trained through event and time-based activities (i.e. inside a classroom on a Tuesday) need to end as the sole way of delivery. They need to be replaced with a strategy called 'blended learning'. Blended learning integrates online e-learning content and processes with face-to-face sessions, tests, assessments, information and group working. This method enhances and extends communication and training processes; it cuts down on the need for face-to-face time to be spent on theory and data, ensuring that this valuable time is spent on truly understanding, skill-building and contextualising. In short, blended learning supplies a flexible training approach which transforms the delivery capacity from the provider.

For general wider staff development, you can adopt a joined-up technology approach which concentrates on individual development monitoring and planning, but which is extended by additional e-learning opportunities. Technology thereby permits the transformation of basic administration processes for courses and events, with mandatory and statutory activity pushed and pulled to by people, all within committed and agreed development plans. This inevitably encourages managers and staff to take additional control of their development and turns learning moments into genuine development.

... and just how not to

Repeatedly we see major e-learning projects in organisations failing. How can this be?

Well, for starters, organisations don't do the above. Instead, they spend a lot of time, money and effort on creating rich and complicated e-learning content in the expense of the process. This is due to the mistaken thought the more elaborate, interactive and rich the content they create (or buy), the greater impact and retention it will create. It does not.

Instead, always keep your e-learning simple, engaging and visually attractive, sure, but keep staff thinking and relating their new-found knowledge to their day-to-day job.

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