Thursday, August 31, 2006

Is Your Hammer Looking for a Nail?

Regular readers of eLearn Campus publications will know that we spend a lot of time talking about the design and management of eLearning. That is because there is a lot of poor design and equally poor management out there. We believe that eLearning went through an initial phase of technology focus where people did not spend a lot of time thinking about design and management. If these aspects are improved, it is more likely that eLearning will be used to support organizational performance.

Our research tells us that early stage eLearning was focused on technical occupations and technical skills. A large survey that we conducted in 2002 found that most eLearning was being used for software training and was targeted at technical employees. That, too, will change. We believe that eLearning will increasingly be used to support mission-critical management processes.

So, in anticipation of that change, we have decided to introduce our Performance Series of webinars this fall. These webinars will focus less on the "what" and "how" of the eLearning product (the hammer) and more on the "why" of a specific business problems (the nails).

In general, the type of business problem that lends itself to eLearning has the following characteristics:
  • A business process improvement that depends critically on the skills of people in the organization
  • Relatively large numbers of people needing skill upgrading
  • People geographically distributed, so the cost of face-to-face is prohibitive
  • There is a need to sustain and support learning beyond a "training event" (learning on demand in the workplace)
  • People are open to learning through technology, or can be taught to be
There are many business problems that meet these criteria. Any major organizational effectiveness initiative, by its very nature, involves many levels of training and a need to sustain training.

The Performance Series will define a specific business problem which lends itself to an eLearning application. We will invite guests from the business community to discuss their issue, suggest an approach to it, and discuss some of the challenges. The guest may not always even be doing eLearning as the initial focus is on a clearly defined business issue. Indeed, we see that as one of the advantages. These guests are the sort of people who need to be convinced that an eLearning solution makes sense.

Our first guest, on September 7th, is Catharine Johnston, Executive Vice President, Business and Organizational Excellence, Intrawest Corporation. Intrawest is a world leader in destination resorts and adventure travel. The Intrawest network of resorts attract over 8 million annual skier visits on 10 mountains, thousands of golfers on 36 championship golf courses, thousands more visiting lakeside and ocean beaches, and now offers adventure travel around the globe through Abercrombie & Kent. Intrawest has more than 24,000 employees located around the world.

Catharine will speak about the challenge of implementing Lean Sigma at a large, geographically-distributed leisure company. This challenge certainly meets our criteria as a business challenge that may be open to eLearning.

We hope you can join us for a fascinating discussion on September 7th.


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