End-user companies which have invested in e-learning believe it has been over-hyped by suppliers and has not represented value for money, according to a report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).
A report published this week by the CIPD warned that end users need to progress along their own learning curve in order to make e-learning work.
The survey found that half the companies questioned felt that the technology had been over-hyped, with a similar number saying that there was the potential to waste a lot of money.
"In the early days of e-learning some pretty unscrupulous suppliers were over-hyping the benefits, and a lot of companies had their fingers burnt," said report author Martyn Sloman.
But, despite some concerns about overselling, all organisations questioned said that e-learning has an important role to play in their educational strategies.
And none of the 10 major organisations studied, including British Airways, Surrey County Council and Scottish Power, indicated that they would cut back on their commitment to e-learning.
Although the 'one size fits all' approach does not apply to e-learning, Sloman suggested that there is still scope for companies to learn from each other.
"It is not easy to transfer experiences," he said. "You have to work through an agenda that works for you. But the trouble is that thoughtful pragmatism isn't sexy because it doesn't lead to quick wins."
Sloman warned that e-learning programmes should not be aimed at cutting costs, but said that respondents could demonstrate considerable resource savings as a direct result of introducing e-learning.
Current progress in e-learning in corporate organisations is best described as tentative and exploratory. In particular, Sloman explained that more needs to be done to support learners in the workplace.
"It's one thing to get the chief executive to sign up, but do companies realise what they've committed to?" he asked.
"It's a major change management process. Is the culture such that line managers will allow employees to access e-learning at work?"
Ian Webster, head of e-learning at Accenture HR Services, insisted that it is vital to gauge the effectiveness of e-learning progress three to six months after its launch.
"Too often we see the post-launch review as the final element in the roll-out, allowing the sponsor of the development to place a tick in the box rather than look carefully at the effectiveness of the material in meeting business and training needs," he said.
E-LEARNING - THE CRITICAL SUCCESS FACTORS:
What business benefits can you reap from an e-learning implementation?
Introducing the system
Making sure IT skills and availability is there.
How will e-learning fit in with the rest of your learning strategy?
What are the limitations of generic materials? Poor content can distract users from learning.
Supporting the learner
How will you motivate learners and offer support?
Measurement and monitoring
How can you measure the effectiveness of your e-learning programme?
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