E-learning is basically what occurs when students take online classes; it’s learning in an electronic or virtual environment. Many such programs are Internet-based, meaning that a student can attend school or college from anywhere that they can access the Internet. And in the same way that educators can utilize a variety of multimedia resources in the classroom, they can likewise include such resources in the online learning environment, providing a robust and multifaceted learning experience. The factors that make e-learning so beneficial to education also make it appealing as a training method. This paper will explain e-learning as a training method, the potential barriers associated with e-learning readiness, how such readiness has affected my success at Ashford University, and what a trainer can do to prepare learners for e-learning.
While on the surface training may seem different from education, they are undoubtedly related. They serve a similar purpose: to prepare an individual for some sort of task through the communication and/or demonstration of knowledge and/or skills. However, training is more associated with teaching an individual a skill or information related to their job or profession in that context (that is, on-the-job), while e-learning in the educational context is associated with preparation for a job or profession (that is, pre-career preparation). Furthermore, e-learning can be thought of as a collection of principles for using technology in the learning environment; this means that anyone who will be teaching a group of people can employ those principles. According to Peters et al. (2012) “Over the past 15 years, e-learning has become a widely used training method in professional as well as student programmes,” noting that “30% of company training programmes have recourse to new technologies” (p. 375). In other words, the principles of learning and teaching which underpin the use of technology for education also inform training programs which are more condensed and focused than college courses. In fact, the far more condensed and focused nature of e-learning principles can serve the on-demand, self-guided, and time-sensitive needs for organizations (Peters et al., 2012).
However, despite the benefits of e-learning as a training method, there are barriers to e-learning readiness which must be considered. Such barriers include “change resistance, difficulty and expensive development of e-learning courses, and lack of time to follow the courses,” as well as “the lack of availability of the appropriate hardware and other infrastructure for learning” (Schreurs & Al-Huneidi, 2012, p. 4). All of these issues can be thought of as both organizational and individual factors which must be addressed in order for e-learning as a training method to be effective.
With regard to my own experiences, I am not resistant to change. But I did sometimes experience lack of time to follow e-courses like I should. My level of e-learning readiness has contributed positively to my success at Ashford University, primarily I think because I went into the courses knowing that they would require discipline on my part. I also knew that I was responsible for seeking assistance if I needed it, since it would not be immediately available the way it would be in the traditional classroom setting.
Easy access to assistance is going to be a key element of preparing learners for e-learning on the part of trainers; trainers need to make channels of assistance and support clear. Part of this is to make the transition to e-learning easier and to reduce resistance to change (Schreurs & Al-Huneidi, 2012). Trainers should also allocate time for learners to familiarize themselves with the online environment; if the learners can’t access critical course components, failure is likely since key infrastructure won’t be easily accessible (Schreurs & Al-Huneidi, 2012). Making the transition to the virtual environment and learning how to navigate that environment are important since it will be a critical tool in the learner’s e-learning experience.
- Peters, S., Barbier, M., Faulx, D., & Hansez, I. (2012). Learning and motivation to transfer after an e-learning programme: Impact of trainees’ motivation to train, personal interaction and satisfaction. Innovations in Education & Teaching International, 49(4), 375-387.
- Schreurs, J., & Al-Huneidi, A. (2012). E-learning readiness in organizations: Case KBC Bank. International Journal of Advanced Corporate Learning, 5(1), 4-7. doi:10.3991/ijac.v5i1.1885