The success of any eLearning initiative depends on the will and commitment of the leadership of an organization. Their moral as well as financial support is crucial to spearhead any eLearning campaign within the organization. However, they will need people to execute this initiative effectively and these are the key influencers who will help in promoting the eLearning initiative and get as many employees to enroll in the program as possible to make it a great success. These influences are called the ‘eLearning champions’.
Various studies have demonstrated the proven impact of personal selling through eLearning champions. “eLearning champions are agents of change who can help organizations adopt eLearning. They act as catalysts for change and can motivate others to use eLearning by providing encouragement and support. Thus, the eLearning champions help in changing the attitudes that employees have towards eLearning. They help in building the eLearning capacity within the organization by influencing the necessary stakeholders to adopt processes that will sustain eLearning in an organization.
eLearning champions can build momentum with respect to the eLearning initiatives of the organization by using the available resources to reach out to the key people who can further carry the message to a wider group. They need to work strategically by identifying the learning gaps that are expected to be filled with this effort and focus on highlighting these benefits to the employees. They can influence the early adopters of eLearning to educate themselves and others by demonstrating its benefits. In fact, the company intranet can be effectively used to create social awareness about the scope and reach of online learning. Champions can effectively use blogs or wiki spaces to build up interest in the medium. As they become familiar with the concept of online information sharing, they will be more open to apply it for training or learning purposes.
Which brings us to the question of who makes the most influential eLearning champion? Employees are more likely to engage if the champion is someone who is respected and well-known in the organization. When they know that such a person is backing the initiative, they will be more likely to come on board. The next most influential person is the immediate supervisor. In the absence of a champion from leadership levels, this is the next best course of action. Champions in eLearning could be from any level in the organizational hierarchy. They need to be someone who are popular in within their group and who can garner support to the new initiative.
eLearning champions understand the concerns of their colleagues and hence are more likely to be in a position to bridge the gap between the desire of the management and expectations of the employees. They act as an intermediary to create a mutually convenient and acceptable method of adoption for the eLearning program. As this is not their full-time job, it would be good that these champions are rewarded suitably for their efforts by the management.