E-Learning Strategies: How to Get Implementation and Delivery Right First Time / Edition 1

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In basic physics, mechanical advantage describes the ability of asimple mechanism to produce an output force greater than the inputforce. E-learning delivers a learning advantage-by reducing thecost of learning by about a third-and either reducing time oflearning by a third, or increasing the effectiveness of learning bya third. With e-learning, both the enterprise and the learner getmore out than they put in.

If they want their people to work at peak performance and toremain competitive, every enterprise and small to medium sizedbusiness need to face up to the challenge of implementing anddelivering e-learning.

E-learning is built from processes, products, services, andtechnologies-but it is none of those things. Instead, it is astrategic approach to learning in the corporation. Without arobust, business-driven strategy to guide implementation anddelivery, e-learning is bound to fail.

E-Learning Strategies is designed to help decision takersand implementation teams understand the elements of e-learning andthe issues surrounding them. With chapters divided into What YouNeed to Know and What You Need to Do, E-Learning Strategiesis a valuable resource for anyone responsible for e-learningstrategy and execution.

E-Learning Strategies covers the whole implementationprocess-strategy, vendor selection, technology implementation,culture change, content development, and delivery. It is designedto help both decision takers and implementation teams to understandthe key issues, to devise the best strategy for their learningrequirements, and to implement it successfully first time.

Case studies provide practical insights into how BP, PWCConsulting, The Dow Chemical Company, and The Royal Bank ofScotland Group have met the challenges of e-learning-and how theyhave benefited.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"…This is a comprehensive tome on e-learning…whereveryou are on the e-learning journey Morrison’s book should havesomething for your organisation…" (E-Learning Age, May 2003)

"…is densely packed through, informative andwell-researched. The direct language makes the somewhat dauntingappearance surprisingly easy to digest…" (Training Journal,September 2003)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780470849224
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 5/9/2003
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 426
  • Product dimensions: 6.82 (w) x 11.12 (h) x 0.62 (d)

Meet the Author

Don Morrison is a successful film writer and director whohas worked at the cutting edge of media. A pioneer in the area ofinteractive media in the early 1980s, he has spent the last twodecades creating training content in film, video, multimedia, ande-learning. The quality and innovation which are characteristic ofhis work have been recognised through more than twenty industryawards.

More recently he has worked with PWC Consulting to design,develop, and implement a global e-learning solution for itsconsultants. Part of this book is based on his research andexperience with PWC.

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Read an Excerpt

E-learning Strategies

How to Get Implementation and Delivery Right First Time
By Don Morrison

John Wiley & Sons

ISBN: 0-470-84922-3

Chapter One

Defining terms: get comfortable with e-learning

... the promise of the Internet:

To center learning around the student instead of the classroom

To focus on the strengths and needs of individual learners

To make lifelong learning a practical reality Report of the Web-based Education Commission to the US President and Congress

A digitally literate citizen will be able to:

communicate digitally;

choose, apply and keep up to date with digital tools;

search, process and use information in a discriminating and responsible manner;

learn and take responsibility for continuous, personal learning development and employability. European eLearning Summit

What you need to know

E-learning is to training what e-business is to business. Using technology as an enabler and process as a framework, e-learning has the power to transform how employees and enterprises learn in the new economy where knowledge is prized and change is constant. With power comes the responsibility-placed on the enterprise and the employee-of creating a learning partnership. The enterprise needs to invest in its human capital by delivering high-quality learning experiences to employees through multiple channels. Employees need to engage with the learning that is providedwith the aim of achieving a state of readiness to compete. If either partner ducks their responsibility, some learning might take place but no transformation.

If e-learning is a response to the information age, we need to know something about what we are responding to. Dr Charles Reigeluth, Professor of Education at Indiana University and an authority on learning theory, provides what he describes as "key markers" to help us understand the environment in which e-learning needs to function (see Figure 1.1). What is interesting is how closely the characteristics of e-learning are aligned with Reigeluth's key markers for the information age.

Towards a definition

E-learning means different things to different people. It's understandable. The telephone, television, even the book all mean different things to different people. There are dictionary definitions but we prefer to define these everyday media according to how we use them-and how we use them defines how we buy them. That's important. How you use e-learning should define how you buy e-learning.

Most definitions of e-learning you'll encounter reflect agendas you might not share. A custom content developer talks about e-learning differently than a generic content publisher. A Learning Management System vendor influences prospective buyers to think about e-learning differently than the vendor of a content authoring tool. In the end, you need to develop your own understanding that reflects the needs of your business. For now it is important that you understand how the term e-learning is used in this book.

Here is my definition:

E-learning is the continuous assimilation of knowledge and skills by adults stimulated by synchronous and asynchronous learning events-and sometimes Knowledge Management outputs-which are authored, delivered, engaged with, supported, and administered using Internet technologies.

Let's focus on some of the key words and phrases in the definition.


E-learning in the enterprise, the main focus of this book, is almost always for the benefit of learners who have finished their formal education. They are adults who have become lifelong learners, some motivated by certification or compliance requirements but most by the desire to reach high performance levels-they want to be good at their jobs. "We are living in a world where what you earn is a function of what you can learn," observed Bill Clinton and that resonates with adult learners. While much of what is covered in this book can be applied to e-learning in primary, secondary and higher education, it's important to recognize that the characteristics of adult learners-their attitudes, expectations, life experiences, and goals-are not interchangeable with those of full-time students. The design of adult learning needs to reflect the differences.

In his book The Modern Practice of Adult Education Malcolm S. Knowles, an influential professor of adult learning, appropriated the term andragogy to differentiate the principles of adult learning from those of pedagogy. For all their demographic diversity, Knowles held that all adult learners share these characteristics:

Adults need to know why they have to learn something. They want control and responsibility over their learning-and must believe it will deliver a personal benefit.

Adults need to learn experientially. They have had rich life experiences and want to bring them to their learning.

Adults approach learning as problem-solving. A practical solution-centric approach to learning works better for adults than a theoretical approach.

Adults learn best when content is of immediate value. Assimilation is facilitated when adults can put learning into practice soon.

In 1970 Knowles anticipated e-learning with surprising accuracy: "We are nearing the end of the era of our edifice complex and its basic belief that respectable learning takes place only in buildings and on campuses. Adults are beginning to demand that their learning take place at a time, place, and pace convenient to them. In fact, I feel confident that most educational services by the end of this century (if not decade) will be delivered electronically ... Our great challenge now is to find ways to maintain the human touch as we learn to use the media in new ways."


I have used the word stimulated to keep the definition honest. Real learning, the assimilation of knowledge or skill, usually happens only when what has been "learned" is applied. That might be during an interactive exercise, simulation or discussion that forms part of an e-learning event but it is just as likely to be in a real-world context after the learning event has ended. E-learning has a responsibility to stimulate the learner by providing explicit knowledge but the responsibility of transforming explicit knowledge into tacit knowledge-taking personal ownership of it-can only ever be the learner's.

Synchronous events

A telephone conversation is a good example of a synchronous event. Both parties are present-remotely-and spontaneous interaction happens with no time delay. A video conference is another form of synchronous event. Synchronous learning is a learning event that takes place in real time, for example, a virtual class or peer-to-peer communication based on Instant Messaging technologies. In the virtual class there is real-time interaction between instructor and learners. The learner can interrupt the instructor to ask for clarification. The instructor can ask the virtual class if everyone understands a concept that has just been explained. Usually, synchronous learning happens at a fixed time. Like their physical counterparts, virtual classes are scheduled-so everyone knows when to "turn up".

When synchronous learning is instructor-led, it is sometimes called distance learning which is defined as online learning that takes place without the instructor being physically present. Confusingly, for many years before the arrival of e-learning, the term distance learning was used to describe any training that was delivered using any media, for example, videotape, broadcast television, satellite, CBT and CD-ROM. Today, a number of terms have emerged to describe synchronous learning: live e-learning (LEL), virtual classrooms, real-time learning and real-time collaboration.


A book is a good example of asynchronous communication. The reading process is time-independent of the writing process; a book can be read any time after it has been written. E-mail is asynchronous communication. The nature of e-mail technology means interactions between sender and receiver can never happen in real time-unlike Instant Messaging technology. Asynchronous learning takes place when the learner, not the author, wants it to. Usually, authors have no idea when their learning content is being used; learners engage with a self-paced e-learning course without any interaction with the author. The creative use of interactivity in a self-paced course can give the impression of a synchronous learning event but it is just an impression. Like the book, all content has been authored and locked down in advance of the learning event.

Asynchronous learning is sometimes called distributed learning which is defined as online learning that takes place anywhere and any time it is needed.

The flexibility of Internet technology creates grey areas around the notions of synchronous and asynchronous. While a virtual class starts life as synchronous learning, it can be "recorded" and "played back" at any time even by learners who were not "present" at the original event. The instructor and the learners who participated in the original class become the authors of an asynchronous learning event that can be viewed by other learners at a time and place of their choosing.

Simulations are another interesting discussion point. In the past, what passed for e-learning simulations were no more than simulations of simulations-elaborately constructed exercises in branching that gave the learner the impression anything could happen when in reality all outcomes had been scripted in advance of the learning event. E-learning developers are starting to build authentic simulations based on rules engines and vast databases. These simulations contain an almost infinite number of variables. No one-not even the author-can predict all outcomes. Aircraft flight simulators are a classic example of genuine simulations. They happen in real time and the only constraints on the outcome of the crew's actions are the engineering constraints of the aircraft itself. The question arises, are authentic e-learning simulations synchronous or asynchronous events? The answer comes in two parts.

They are synchronous in the sense that there are real-time spontaneous interactions that produce unscripted outcomes.

They are asynchronous is the sense that the "world" of the simulation-whether a potentially explosive boardroom meeting or a factory floor process-has been defined before the learner interacts with it. The learner cannot move outside the boundaries of that world.

Knowledge Management (KM)

In Smart Business Dr Jim Botkin offers a crisp high-level definition of Knowledge Management: "... the process of capturing, sharing, and leveraging a company's collective expertise". That could pass for a high-level description of the e-learning cycle. (See Chapter 4 for more about e-learning cycles.) In fact, the overlap between e-learning and Knowledge Management is now widely recognized and smart enterprises are already in the process of integrating the two to better leverage learning resources and eliminate duplicate activities. (Chapter 18 provides a case study of just such an initiative.) (See Figure 1.2.)

E-learning and Knowledge Management do the same thing in different ways. E-learning delivers processed knowledge-it takes subject matter expertise, puts it through an instructional design process and presents the result in an obvious framework. KM delivers raw or, at the very least, less processed knowledge. Nancy Dixon, organizational knowledge consultant and author of Common Knowledge: How Companies Thrive by Sharing What They Know, makes the same point slightly differently when she talks about sanctioned and local knowledge: "Most knowledge sharing is done between peers, and the organizational "sanction" for this kind of exchange, is an implicit recognition that local knowledge is important ... Local knowledge always competes with "sanctioned knowledge", i.e. knowledge that the organization has declared as valid. Sanctioned knowledge may come from outside the organization, or it may come from internal experts or task forces." A holistic view of learning would provide learners with access to both processed/sanctioned and raw/local knowledge.

You can have a successful implementation of e-learning without KM which is why my definition isn't absolute about its inclusion.

Internet technologies

Internet technologies-and protocols-are the enablers of e-learning. Self-paced e-learning courses are hosted on Web servers and always delivered in a Web browser though some browsers are so customized, they look like something else. Peer-to-peer collaboration through Instant Messaging is an example of e-learning delivered outside a Web browser but still using Internet technologies. To leverage the power of the network, e-learning support and administration should also be browser-based. Telephone support is usually delivered using conventional telephone systems but using Voice over IP technology, it could be browser-based. By contrast, most mainstream content authoring tools are desktop applications.

Others define e-learning more loosely. I have seen definitions that include any learning delivered through any electronic media including CD-ROM, videotape, audio cassette, SMS text message, broadcast telephone message, and so on. These might all be effective channels for the delivery of learning but they are not e-learning any more than a fax-no matter how effective-is e-mail.

The e-learning industry

Content, technology and services are the three key segments in the e-learning industry (see Figure 1.3). No single e-learning vendor provides a true end-to-end solution though many have formed alliances and partnerships with the aim of providing everything an enterprise needs through a single umbrella contract. For example, Docent, a Learning Management System vendor, has alliances with the big five business consultancies and more than 50 content publishers. Increasingly, e-learning vendors border-hop to provide offerings in more than one of the three segments. Large generic content publishers like SkillSoft and NetG offer Learning Management Systems and hosting services. (To learn more about e-learning vendors, see Chapter 9.)

Time-critical: the key differentiator

Human attention is our most valuable and scarce commodity. When our time is what we have to offer the world, we look at technology differently. We aren't distracted by the sheer novelty of what it can do. We want to know how quickly it can help us get where we want to go, do what we need to do. Wayne Hodgins, Director of Worldwide Learning Strategies Autodesk Inc

When it comes down to it, learning is about one thing: the time-critical value of information.]


Excerpted from E-learning Strategies by Don Morrison Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents


Part I: E-Learning Primer.

Chapter 1: Defining Terms:Get Comfortable with E-Learning.

Chapter 2: The New Learning Landscape:E-Learning Is Here toStay.

Chapter 3: ROI, Metrics, And Evaluation:How Can We Tell If We'reGetting It Right?

Chapter 4: The E-Learning Cycle:Once Is Not Enough.

Part II: Learning Strategy.

Chapter 5: Business Drivers:The Real Reasons for ImplementingE-Learning.

Chapter 6: E-Learning Strategy:Dramatically Improve Your Chanceof Success.

Part III: Implementation.

Chapter 7: The Project Team:Who You Need … What TheyDo.

Chapter 8: Infrastructure:Denial Isn't an Option.

Chapter 9: Vendor Relationships:Good Partners Help You Learn andMove Fast.

Chapter 10: Learning Management Systems:The Engines ofE-Learning.

Chapter 11: Testing:Mission-Critical, Not Nice to Have.

Part IV: Delivery.

Chapter 12: Multi-Channel Delivery:Leveraging the Learning ValueChain.

Chapter 13: Learner Support:Learning With the Aid of a SafetyNet.

Chapter 14: Developing Curricula:Signposted Paths to PerformanceImprovement.

;Chapter 15: E-Learning Standards:Protecting Investment andLeveraging Technology.

Chapter 16: Instructional Design:Must Try Harder.

Chapter 17: The Content Development Process:ManagingE-Learning's Payload.

Part V: Case Studies.

Chapter 18: PwC Consulting:Integrating Learning andKnowledge.

Chapter 19: BP:Embedding an E-Learning Capability.

Chapter 20: The Royal Bank of Scotland Group:Delivering in anImmature Market.

Chapter 21: The Dow Chemical Company:High Commitment, High ROI,High Volume.

Part VI: Future Directions.

Chapter 22: Future Directions:Where E-Learning Is Headed.


Appendix 1: E-Learning Newsletters.

Appendix 2: Online Resources.

Appendix 3: Glossary.


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