Expanded world of learning

first_imgExpanded world of learningOn 1 Sep 2001 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Next month’s Wolce conference reflects the impact of e-learning in the openlearning mix. Patrick McCurry reportsAgreeing an open learning policy is one thing, but putting it into practiceeffectively is another, and increasingly the role of e-learning has to beconsidered in open learning strategies. These are just a couple of the key issues to be discussed at the World OpenLearning Conference and Exhibition next month in Birmingham. Now in its eighth year, the exhibition hosts more than 100 companies, whichwill be showcasing new products and technologies in open learning. For the first time at Wolce, e-learning forms a major component on theexhibition floor alongside other forms of training. Wolce focuses on fourstreams: – E-learning – Effective implementation of open learning – Standards and best practice – Management development in HR and training The keynote speaker on day one is Professor Bob Fryer, assistantvice-chancellor of Southampton University and a board member of the Universityfor Industry. He will be looking at how far electronic and distance learninghas come in recent years, but also how far it still has to go. Challenges to betackled, he says, include developments in teaching, learner support andfunding. Jim McLaughlin, director of learning at ScottishPower, gives the keynoteaddress on the second day, examining the practical steps organisations can taketo put open learning into place. “Many organisations see open learning as a panacea and a way of cuttingtraining costs, but it’s clear that it must be part of a blended approach withclassroom training,” he says. At ScottishPower, open learning has become increasingly important since thecompany expanded from its Scottish base to sites in England and the US. The company has evolved from beginning with open learning centres, wherestaff could access technology-based training, to being able to delivere-learning at most desktops. “The challenge is recognising that a cultural shift is required toeffectively deliver desktop learning and that staff must be taught how to learnin new ways,” he says. Being able to embed open learning in the organisation’s culture is anongoing task, says McLaughlin, “For example, how do we ensure that callcentre staff have the time in a busy working day to spend half an hour doingdesktop training?” Peter Ward, UK development director at e-learning provider SkillSoft, arguesthat the programmes put in place by organisations need to match the skillsneeds of the business as well as the skills needs of the individual. Ward, who will be chairing a session on collaborative learning, says that ifindividuals are allowed to develop personal skills for themselves over andabove the business need, they are more likely to be motivated to learn and tobe more loyal to their employer. He favours a blended learning programme, but with the key focus on onlinecourses. “This allows large numbers of courses to be offered to cover all,or most, needs and the learner can do them when they please for their ownbenefit or that of the business.” Recruitment consultancy Adecco has put in place such a programme and head ofclient training services Fiona Walsh will speak about its experiences. The company has set up an online programme for its 35,000 temps. “We’realso opening training centres for individuals who have no experience of onlinelearning,” she says. Another challenge is evaluating effectiveness. Paul Pastrone, vice-presidentinternational at DigitalThink, who will chair a session on this topic, says,”People understand that open learning is a much more efficient way oftraining many people, but you also need to be able to measure success.” In many ways, he argues, evaluation is easier than for classroom training.In a classroom it can be hard to measure individuals’ learning in an ongoingway and success rates may vary depending on the tutor or other factors. But with online learning, it can be easier to measure the uptake ofmaterial, he says, and factors such as the different learning speeds ofindividuals can be more easily accommodated than in classroom training. Nevertheless, a clear system is still required to evaluate online learning.”The organisation needs to be clear about what the business goals of thetraining are, to translate those goals into learning objectives and thentranslate those learning objectives into a measurable regime,” he says. How to get to the show  – Wolce is at the Birmingham NEC on 10 and 11 October. The exhibition, whichis free, is open from 10am to 5pm on the Wednesday and 10am to 4pm on Thursday.– The accompanying conference opens with a keynote address on both days at10.15am, followed by 75-minute sessions until mid-afternoon. – Conference session prices start from £90 with some discounts. To registerfor both events, call the hotline on 020-8394 5171 or visit www.distancelearning.co.uk Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more