Internet based learning programs are increasingly becoming popular. Many firms simply let their employees take online courses offered by online course providers such as Click2Learn.com. Others use their proprietary internal intranets to facilitate computer based training. For example, Silicon Graphics transferred many of its training materials into its intranet. Now employees can access the programs whenever they want. Distribution costs are zero, and if the company wants to make a change to the program, it can do so at a central location.
Similarly, when the Park Avenue bank of Valdosta, Georgia, installed its e-training program, trainees could use it 24/7 from any computer. As with most enterprise wide e-learning initiatives the bank’s training program included a learning management system that maintains a database showing employees’ progress in completing the courses.
Delivering training online can be cost effective. For example, Delta Airlines customer service personnel receive about 70% of their annual required FAA training via the Internet. Employees reportedly like it because it’s interactive. Delta like it because prior to online training, employees had to travel to one of five training centers keeping tem away from their jobs for at least the day.
Many employers create full blown learning portals to satisfy their employees:
Web based training is popular but in practice it’s usually not a choice of one form of training or another. The trend is towards blended learning solutions, wherein the trainee uses several delivery methods, for instance hard copy manuals, in class lectures, self guided e-learning programs, and Web based seminars or webinars to learn the material.
Learning Portals and Beyond:
Many firms use business portals for various purposes today. Also called Enterprise information Portals (EIPs), they are, like Yahoo!, window to the Internet, but also much more. Through its business portal, categories of a firm’s employees – secretaries, engineers, salespeople, and so on – are able to access all the corporate applications they need to use, and get the tools you need to analyze data inside and outside your company, and see the customized content you need, like industry news and competitive data.
Companies increasingly convey their employee training through such portals. Business-to-consumer (B2C) learning portals such as thinq.com and Click2learn.com contract with employers to deliver online training courses to the firms’ employees. Some B2C are portals or vertical industry learning portals; they target specific industries with relevant offerings. Other firms create their own learning portals for employees and customers. Called business-to-employee (B2E) portals, they let the company contract with specific training content providers, who offer their content to the firm’s employees via the portal.
Learning portals put more information into everyone’s hands when they want it. Instead of limiting training opportunities to teacher led conventional classes or to periodic training sessions, training becomes available 24/7. Employees can learn at their own pace, when they want to. The portal built in learning management system technology does not just let the employee take a course. It also grades his or her work, tracks what courses he or she has completed, and even reminds the person what courses are scheduled when. However, that while e-learning is beneficial, one study by Michigan State University researchers, found that on-site employee education programs produced better results than online training in terms of subsequent test results.
Today’s earning portals tend to focus on giving employees access to a repository of training content and associated automated testing tools. Special managers function allow to monitor employees training activities. The movement is toward integrating current e-learning methods with the company’s overall, enterprise wide information systems. In that way, employers can more easily combine training with the firm’s already available online discussion forums and synchronous meeting tools and chat room resources.