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eLearning: Coping with Issues of Time and Place

Written By Shalini Merugu

eLearning: Coping with Issues of Time and Place

One of the standard reactions of employees asked to enroll for an eLearning course is “I barely have time to get my job done; there’s just no way I can enroll for an online course”. Or “it doesn’t feel like real training. I’m still sitting at my noisy desk, trying to ward off a million distractions. I’d rather go for a classroom session”. Sounds familiar anyone?

How is it that employees are willing to set aside 2-3 days for an optional instructor led course but can’t spare 30 minutes every day for a week to get through a mandatory online course? There are many motivations and drivers that affect learner adoption, but in this post, I’m going to touch upon simple reasons to do with time and place.

Getting Management-Approved Time

The most commonly used eLearning option is a self-paced asynchronous course. Employees who enroll for these courses have the freedom of taking them up at a time that suits them most. And yet, many complain that they don’t have the time or even if they do, that management doesn’t seem to acknowledge the time they spend on eLearning.

The lack of management-approved time allocated for eLearning could be a big barrier to learners taking up eLearning. In classroom learning, employees sit in a classroom where there are no distractions and other demands on their time. The time they spend in the classroom is manager-approved time for training. A lot of times, it’s a welcome break from the everyday workplace demands as well.

There is a need to acknowledge the need for a dedicated ‘eLearning time’. Management support is required for this. Urgent work requests cannot be used as an excuse to haul an employee off his eLearning program. Of course, the flip side for employees is that for all the flexibility eLearning offers, they still need to plan their time for scheduling courses. They also would need to keep their managers in the loop so that there are no surprises for anyone concerning their non-availability during a certain time, despite being seemingly at work. The issue of making time for eLearning gets further complicated when putting in place a formal policy for acknowledging learners who take eLearning outside office hours. Management needs to pay careful thought in coming up with a sound rationale on how such employees will get paid for the additional time they invest in learning. Suggestions anyone?

Creating the Right Learning Space

Most times, employees who try eLearning get put off by the medium because the experience of sitting at their workstations for training kind of pales before the experience of attending a training session at some swanky conference room in a great restaurant. Most employees have this complaint “I’m sitting at my workstation, and no one even knows I’m undergoing training. Co-workers come around chatting and wasting my time.” It’s true that for most employees, their colleagues may not seem to consider eLearning as a form of training that warrants privacy or an isolated work environment conducive to learning. Providing Learning centers is just part of the solution. What do you think?

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