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e-Learning 2.0: Proven Practices and Emerging Technologies to Achieve Real Results

e-Learning 2.0: Proven Practices and Emerging Technologies to Achieve Real Results

by Anita Rosen

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When executed well, e-learning is a powerful way for organizations to save money while providing the kind of up-to-date training and information that will help employees perform better and more efficiently. Unfortunately, all too often, companies are finding that they’re spending a huge amount of money for less return than they


When executed well, e-learning is a powerful way for organizations to save money while providing the kind of up-to-date training and information that will help employees perform better and more efficiently. Unfortunately, all too often, companies are finding that they’re spending a huge amount of money for less return than they had hoped. In e-Learning 2.0, Anita Rosen explains what works and what doesn’t, offering businesses a best-practices guide for making their investment pay off. Using examples of successful companies like National SemiConductor, Telefonica, and the Texas Department of Transportation who have made the most of e-learning, Rosen shows companies how to:

define an e-learning strategy • identify the best technologies and processes to effectively implement an e-learning strategy • manage large, complicated, or new e-learning initiatives • get buy-in from trainers, managers and learners • measure and evaluate training • calculate an ROI

Complete with up-to-date information on the latest technologies, including Web 2.0, this book will help businesses improve their performance without breaking the bank.

Product Details

Publication date:
Edition description:
New Edition
Product dimensions:
9.28(w) x 6.22(h) x 0.87(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1.0

The Business Calculations and

Business Objectives of e-Learning

For more than a decade, e-learning has been touted as the next big

thing in training. Yet most organizations are still trying to figure out how

to make it work. Perhaps part of the problem is that e-learning is a type

of training or learning in which instructors and students interact at different

times and in different spaces, with technology bridging the timespace

gap and allowing learners to access training at their own pace

and with methods that are convenient for them. A lot of companies

have spent a lot of money creating a lot of projects—but they have not

gotten what they thought they would get out of their investment in this

still new technology.

Meanwhile, corporate training organizations are looking for better returns

than they are currently receiving from their e-learning investment.

While department-level personnel wait for executives to provide vision

and goals, executives want trainers to develop a business plan to

move training into the twenty-first century. Along the way, corporations

spend billions of dollars on solutions selected on an ambiguous direction

that is provided primarily by product vendors. Specifically, corporations

decide on an initiative to move to a new technology or methodology

without understanding its implications for workers or without being able

to measure the effectiveness of its implementation. When employees

choose solutions, they tend to solve only their short-term needs—like,

“How do I get this deliverable off of my desk?” What organizations need

are clear visions, focused goals, and a better way to measure their learning


By the end of this chapter, you should be able to:

• Understand the goal of training.

• Review sample ROI calculations.

• Understand how to measure and evaluate training.

• Identify your audience.

• Understand the biggest mistakes in top-down commands and

bottom-up implementations.

• Understand communication within an organization.

• Learn how to get buy-in from trainers, employees, and SMEs.

• Understand where e-learning fits in.

1.1 The Goal of Training

This book takes a realistic and pragmatic look at e-learning. Over the

last ten years, having worked with hundreds of organizations that are

incorporating e-learning into their business practices, I have found

that most training organizations have failed to achieve the expected

returns on investment. I have seen department-level personnel waiting

for their executives to provide vision and goals, while their executives,

who have no practical experience with training, expect the

trainers to develop a business plan to modernize the organization’s

training. This gap in expectations is fertile ground for vendors to

dictate solutions, tactics, and strategies, which tend to benefit the

product providers much more than their customers. Executive-level

personnel go along with the vendor-provided solutions because they

can present such solutions as “progress” to management, and contributor-

level employees are happy just to get the tasks completed so

that their managers stop asking about them. This cozy arrangement

leaves employee training and productivity enhancement as an afterthought

on the priority list. This book speaks to this current state of

e-learning practices, identifying what is effective and what is counterproductive,

and my theories and recommendations are illustrated by

real-world case studies.

The irony of this commonplace approach to e-learning is that

providing training over the Web, rather than as classroom training,

creates more opportunities than people initially think. Many organizations

initially look at moving training on-line to cut travel costs, to

ease trainer schedules, or to provide training where it has not been

available in the past. However,Web-based training is based on a different

model than classroom training. A real benefit of moving training

to an intranet/Internet-delivered model is that it provides an

organization with availability and repetition.

• The always-on availability of the intranet/Internet subtly

changes training. What was once a one-time training event

can now be a corporate resource. Once implemented,

e-learning provides homogeneous training, which is the

same training, on the same day, for all employees.

• From a learning retention point-of-view, an on-line training

event does not need to achieve as high a level of knowledge

retention as classroom training because e-learning can be

accessed at any time as a just-in-time resource. An effective

e-learning model supports just-in-time training so that employees

can refresh their memory when they need to carry

out a procedure or when they run into an unexpected situation.

With e-learning, employees can search a key word and

access a course unit instead of simply having to remember

each unit’s content from top to bottom. In effect, employees

learn how to find and access the information they need. Before

the Internet, with its inherently easy access to corporate

repositories of information, employees found that the hard

part of performing their jobs was finding where the procedures

were spelled out. The benefit of using e-courses over

other methods of providing information, such as wikis or

on-line Word or PowerPoint documents, is that e-learning,

when developed properly, explains concepts and presents

the same information multiple ways, making it easier for

employees to understand new information or to follow new


E-learning also enables organizations to tailor their training to meet

their specific goals. In a manufacturing organization, for example,

the goal is to ensure that each employee is efficient at the handful

of tasks he or she performs. In a service organization, the goal is to

increase productivity by ensuring that employees are knowledgeable

about organizational offerings and that they provide a consistent

experience. Managers undergo training to be able to properly

handle relationships and manage unexpected situations within the

confines of the organization’s culture. Training and, by extension,

e-learning provide management with a tool to create a more flexible

workforce. Employees can be trained to become intelligent

workers who know where to find information rather than to simply

memorize procedures.

Of course, all these benefits cost money, but the return on investment

is there if you know how to calculate it.

1.2 A Simple Example of Return-on-Investment (ROI)


E-learning is relatively new to most organizations. With any new

technology, service, or change in business practices, management

wants to quantify the cost and savings. Most organizations look at

return on investment (ROI) as the first step in justifying the cost of

a new service.

The ROI calculation for e-learning tends to be very simple. In

most situations an e-learning course replaces classroom training or

training workbooks. The ROI calculation identifies the current

cost to create and roll out a classroom course and compares it with

the cost of creating an e-learning course and purchasing e-learning


For example, the Division of Development and Training in the

Bureau of Human Resources is the organization in the Commonwealth

of Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry

that is responsible for managing compliance training and benefits

for all 6,000 agency employees. Employees must receive training

on a variety of mandated topics, including the State Employees Assistance

Program, HIV/AIDS, bomb threats, and the like. Originally,

all of this training was classroom based, delivered throughout

the state for agency employees at various county, regional, and

other local facilities. With tight travel budgets, the Commonwealth

of Pennsylvania was looking for alternative ways to deliver


The Development and Training Division believed that migrating

some of their courses to e-learning would lower training

costs while providing agency employees with effective just-in-time

training. They looked at their records and identified that, on average,

the cost to roll out one training course was $85,000. This

total took into account all the costs for travel, room, material, and

food for both trainers and students. Having decided that not all

courses were going to go on-line, they figured out how many

courses they would convert to e-learning. For example, if they

rolled out five classroom courses in a year, the real cost would be

$425,000. If these courses were moved to an e-learning infrastructure,

the cost would be about $200,000 for the year. Their

savings for the year would be $425,000 – $200,000 = $225,000);

their return on investment would be $225,000  $200,000 =

1.125, or 11.25%.

However, cost varies. Some organizations find that they need

large, centralized databases to handle their training needs, whereas

other organizations find that simpler solutions meet their needs.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania went with a simple solution:

With ReadyGo WCB and ReadyGo SST, for an outlay of $2,500,

they saved their department over $400,000 in training costs.

Excerpted from e-Learning 2.0:  Proven Practices and Emerging

Technologies to Achieve Results by Anita Rosen. Copyright © 2009 Anita Rosen. Published by AMACOM Books, a division of American Management Association, New York, NY. Used with permission.

All rights reserved. http://www.amacombooks.org.

Meet the Author

Anita Rosen (Mountain View, CA) is a successful trainer and speaker on Internet-related topics.

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