The areas of e-learning are growing and gaining sophistication, laying track through trial and error," said Gloria Gery. Gery, an independent consultant and estimable knowledge management and e-learning authority, moderated this roundtable of managers, trainers and analysts who are in the trenches of e-learning implementation.
The roundtable was hosted by KnowledgeWindow, Princeton, N.J.—a full-service provider of integrated e-learning solutions. In this lively, unbiased dialogue, the panelists candidly discussed the ways in which their organizations are balancing the latest architectures and infrastructures with incumbent business procedures.
Opening the session, Gery spoke about how e-learning is moving from individual courses to a global depository of shared knowledge that is increasingly on-demand and enriched by advances in media presentation.
"Companies need to integrate knowledge management into their own workplace so that knowledge is a small link to application," said Gery. "Keep your eye on the goal and don't be seduced by 'gee-whiz' technology." In other words, don't fall in love with the messenger. "You don't want to become too dependent on third-party integrators," Gery warned. "You'll only lose control."
The first question posed to the panelists was: Why did your organization consider e-learning?
Green: Efficiency is a huge part of the reason, as well as speed and disbursement. There's a democratizing at Proctor & Gamble as we expand into global locations. It allows us to balance out the training to more people in more locations.
Chaumley: I love GM, but we've been slow to move. We're starting to realize we can bring the training to the people, on-the-spot, in a safe environment instead of the factory floor.
Brockett: It's become a monetary issue. We want to improve the techno-savviness of our workers onsite, so efficiency is a major driver.
Another question asked of the panelists was: Who is involved in your e-learning strategy, and who is leading it?
Green: Our Global Learning Center developed a Learning and Knowledge Council, so we own it. The biggest help to our strategy is that our IT people have been behind it from the beginning.
Brockett: Our traditional business units have been the main implementers. Our focus has been to farm out partnerships with infrastructure specialists.
Other issues introduced were how to deal with technology that becomes obsolete and how to deal with technophobic trainers who are weary of the online shift.
Gery: You must maintain your motivation to start again if your strategy stumbles. It's so easy to give up and to stop ramping up. The strategy has to be built into the business core, so if people leave, the new e-learning core stays sound and there's a legacy.
Wankel: We've dealt with reluctant trainers who were afraid of losing their jobs, and we still battle with IT. It's tough to say to a client, "Here's something that will be great today, but it will take a year to get it up and viable." —J.B.