In an ideal world, learning strategists and practitioners sold on eLearning would effortlessly decide on the kinds of exciting courses learners in their organization required and immediately get a generous budget sanctioned from executive management (without having to turn cartwheels to sell the idea of online training). They’d then spend an enjoyable time shopping for vendors for design and development before zeroing in on the perfect eLearning provider. Or if they had the talent in-house, they’d build that dream eLearning solution, without any glitches whatsoever.
The organization would of course have the required technological know-how to ensure that the courses are hosted on a platform accessible to all, while providing excellent reporting and tracking abilities. They would then roll out the eLearning courses which would be met with overwhelming enthusiasm across their organization. Learners would be so excited with the eLearning initiative that they would even be willing to get trained in their own time. The executive leadership would finally commend everyone on a job well done and they would all live happily ever after. <Regrettable end of fantasy>
In the real world, eLearning, as with any other change initiative, has its share of hurdles and challenges.
For the learner, eLearning is not likely to work if he/she is not the type to take charge of his/her learning. Even if learners were self-driven, sometimes their experience with shoddy eLearning courses in the past would have made them develop an aversion for this medium. It’s difficult to turn this attitude around without very strong change management initiatives that include creating a culture of eLearning. The skeptics have to sample something good before they take to eLearning. Here is where the importance of a high visibility, high impact pilot course with tangible benefits on completion can go a long way in turning the cynical or the hesitant type around.
The biggest challenge learning practitioners have to face is to create a culture of eLearning. If learners don’t participate, then there is no improvement in their performance, if there is no improvement, there is no business impact for the organization, if there is no impact, there is no further commitment from leadership, with leadership not being clearly committed, learners have no incentives, and so the vicious cycle continues.
A cohesive strategy that makes everyone successful is critical to the success of the eLearning mission in the long run. Stakeholders need to be able to see a demonstrated impact, learners need to see the benefits, and learning practitioners need see how it helps them impact the business goals of the organization. A win-win strategy would include the right kind of eLearning projects, the right vendors, the right people on the team, and the right motivation for taking up eLearning.