Currently, the organisation has a network of trainers workplace training assessors throughout the states — most of them do not work full-time in their roles as trainers, but are operational employees with extra training responsibility. Training packages are sent out to these nominated trainers who conduct the operational training face-to-face, mostly one-to-one, at all the different locations.
Management professional development training is usually held in a major city, requiring some managers to travel a long distance. Both respondents agreed that the current system of training had deficiencies. Costs and time associated with travel and accommodation were frequently mentioned as a negative outcome of current training methods.
Another factor mentioned was the lack of expertise among the nominated trainers in all operational areas and procedures. It has previously been argued that e-learning solutions can save time and costs Gilbert ; Martin ; Rosenberg , and both respondents saw potential benefits with what an e-learning solution could bring the organisation. At the moment, the organisation is working on a huge computer project in terms of a new system that most of its employees will have access to, and need to be proficient in, by The organisation is in the process of skilling up the workforce for this new system, and one of the respondents believed that this could generate opportunities in the near future to move toward a more e-enabled learning environment.
A Learning-to-change Thesis Of E-learning A Proposal For Design-based Research
As previously argued, both respondents in case organisation A see potential benefits with the introduction of some e-learning strategy in their organisation, but believe there are several readiness factors that must be assessed before going down that path. From the thematic matrix analysis, which was used to organise coding sequences into categories and sections, the following brief statistics can be derived as an initial overview of the content of the two interviews:.
Respondent All respondents:. Major factor:. As can be seen in table 3, both respondents focused on issues within all of the five identified main factors of e-learning readiness, although on average they were slightly more focused with issues in regard to the individual learners. Because the interviews were semi-structured and exploratory, these figures do not have high statistical validity, but serve as a good initial overview of what the interviewees chose to focus on.
In terms of learner readiness, both respondents recognised the importance for learners to be comfortable with using computers, as well as having some basic skills, if they are to be successful with an e-learning approach to training and development.
Does that create a sense of impersonal technology based as opposed to customer service people interaction that is value-driven? Willingness to use computers for learning was also linked to the geographic distribution of the workforce, and one respondent said that there is a strong sense in some of the regional areas of isolation from the organisation, and therefore visits by trainers was one way of keeping in contact. Another learner readiness factor brought up by the respondents, was whether the employees would set time aside for self-paced learning and be autonomous learners.
Both respondents argued that various characteristics of the workforce are readiness factors that may impact on the success of an e-learning strategy. One respondent believed that people with some degree or certificate from a university would be more comfortable and willing to learn via computers, and organisations that did not have a reasonably high level of educated employees should be aware of potentially more resistance to e-learning.
Finally, one issue that was brought up which was considered a readiness factor not just for e-learning but for all training efforts, was the high amount of volunteers that work for the organisation. How much access do you have to them, to train them? Both respondents argued that it is important to have support throughout the organisation, including top management, if e-learning is to be successful.
One respondent further argued that there need to be some people who have the knowledge about e-learning and pushing for its introduction if it will be successful. Both respondents also recognised the importance of strong relationships and good communication within the organisation — particularly between the IT department and the training department. According to one respondent, most IT people in the organisation are currently busy with the development and implementation of the new computer system, so there would not be time and resources for a joint development of e-learning strategies at present.
Related to support and communication is the ability and willingness of managers to provide time and opportunity for employees to learn in front of the computer. One respondent said:. Time management is thus not only an important factor of learner readiness, as discussed in earlier sections, but also of organisational readiness — that is, having a learning culture where learners are provided the opportunity and time for learning even when they do not physically leave their workplace.
The major technology readiness factors for e-learning identified by the respondents included easy access to computers and the system that would host the e-learning material; compatibility of network systems; and bandwidth issues. Both respondents argued that learners need to have easy access to computers and to the network. Access is also closely linked to the characteristics of the workforce, discussed in earlier sections.
Also, because a large percentage of the workforce is volunteers, they may not have easy access to the network. However, one respondent said that in most areas there is a regular training site with computers, and these sites could be used for some e-learning. The problem with that, though, is that those computers are being used a lot of the time, so often the time when personnel can actually access them for training is limited.
The new computer system, to be implemented and running by , also does not make compatibility issues easier to solve as it will be running on a different platform than what people are used to. Both respondents argued that what people need to learn in an organisation is a determining factor of e-learning readiness, because learning over a computer is different from traditional face-to-face learning - particularly if the employees need to learn practical hands-on things. For this organisation, there are two main areas of training: one is the computer training in the new system that is being implemented, and the other is training in operational tasks in the specific areas in which they work in.
However, the respondents believed that e-learning could be used to complement practical training by providing background information and assessment tools that could save both time and money. One of the respondents, however, pointed out that much of the success in an e-learning solution lies within the design of the learning modules, arguing that learning styles can be accommodated for by a user-friendly design and structured learning sequences so that people do not get frustrated and give up if it is too complicated or uninteresting.
The respondents agreed on that an organisation must be relatively financial stable to embark on an e-learning strategy, but as with all training efforts, it is an issue of determining costs and benefits as well as looking at what the organisation wants to use e-learning for. Because this organisation is government funded, there is no real alternative than to stick to an allocated budget for training and development.
One factor that has not been widely discussed in the literature, but was by the respondents considered as an e-learning readiness factor, is the need for the organisation to meet some legal requirements of operation and performance. The organisation has a license for operating in its field of service and needs to meet certain requirements of a code for manufacturing practice in order to keep its license.
The existence of a legislative code has had some positive effects, though. It has helped build a culture in which people accept and understand that they have to learn certain skills, and be assessed on those skills, in order to perform their jobs. From the two interviews, several factors of e-learning readiness have been identified, and most of them support findings from the literature.
Table 4 below shows a summary of the main readiness factors that derived from the interviews. The respondents did not see e-learning as a solution to all their future training requirements. The interviews have shown that the organisation may need to look at several factors of e-learning readiness if it intends to take that path in the near future. Table 4: Readiness factors, case organisation A. Case organisation B is a government agency in the natural resources industry. The organisation operates in the state of Victoria, and has around employees spread all over the state in various urban and rural sites.
Thousands of Victorians also volunteer their time and skills to work in partnership with the organisation. The organisation is responsible for managing and protecting a network of natural resources sites, and providing information and guidance to visitors to these sites.
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Case organisation B needs to train employees that are geographically spread over many different sites in Victoria in both technical hands-on skills and more soft skills, such as customer service, computer application skills, and general day-to-day requirements. Currently the way the organisation approaches training is by identifying what skills it needs to have in different locations and by different employees.
It then runs a gap analysis of what skills staff actually have, what they need, and the training is then tailored to that. The training is not done via e-learning, but is sourced out primarily to local training groups or training providers, who conduct face-to-face training either at the workplace or in various training centres. The organisation has not had any previous e-learning initiative in place, and does not have anything planned for the near future.
However, it has had experience with trying to teach people via computers. A training strategy was rolled out in late where people could sign up to learn various computer software packages, as well as applications that covered personal skills. The uptake of people choosing to use this training turned out to be very low - probably smaller than 10 percent of the staff, according to one of the respondents.
The reason for rolling out this strategy was that the organisation had determined that it was moving toward a totally PC literate workforce, and therefore expected all staff to have some basic skills. The problem was, however, that no readiness assessment was made before the rollout, and consequently, the project did not meet its expected uptake. All of the respondents saw benefits with e-learning, but had their concerns to how it could be introduced and implemented in the organisation, and whether it will be in the near future.
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The following section discusses what readiness factors case organisation B may specifically need to assess if an e-learning solution would be successfully implemented. Three people were interviewed from case organisation B. The thematic matrix analysis reveals that all of them focused heavily on issues in regard to the individual learner table 5 , while issues in regard to culture, technology and content were the focus of most of the remaining sections.
These issues will now be discussed and analysed. Two issues that all respondents agreed upon, was that it is important that people have basic computer skills as well as being reasonably comfortable in using computers.
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Hence, basic language literacy is a readiness factors that was identified by one respondent — a factor that has been rather neglected in the e-learning literature. Another respondent also said that there were people in the organisation who are actually terrified of turning on a computer or even approaching it. Clearly these people need to be taught basic computer skills and coached toward becoming comfortable in it as well.
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Another issue that two of the three respondents related to the lack of basic skills and comfortableness among some employees, has to do with characteristics of the workforce. Interestingly enough, one respondent believed that young, educated people may be more comfortable with using computers, but that does not equate them to be willing to use computers for learning, because they often have a strong dedication and motivation for the actual work, and not for learning.
Willingness to learn via computers is therefore another readiness factor for this organisation. This issue is closely related to the type of work that the employees perform in the organisation, which for many employees is mainly outdoors. The respondents further added that because employees often work in rural and remote areas, they highly value the social interaction that they are normally missing in their jobs.
Therefore, to tell them to train in front of a computer is not highly valued, as exemplified by one respondent:.
This example shows that employees need to see the benefits with e-learning, as well as its value for their day-to-day tasks if they are to be motivated to learn and accept an e-learning module. It has been argued in previous chapters that e-learning needs learners to be autonomous learners Oliver and have sound time management skills Berge, Collins et al. This is another readiness factor that the respondents believed would have to be addressed if e-learning is going to be successfully implemented. All respondents acknowledged the importance of the organisation to provide support and opportunities for learning, as well as having good communication between managers and employees.
At the moment there seems to be some lack in communication and knowledge about the development of technology. The key issue for the organisation, as argued by one respondent but also implied by the other two, is to understand the people in the organisation and the work culture before e-learning can be introduced.
What the respondents seem to imply, is that there must be a thorough assessment done on the purpose and the benefits of e-learning, taking into account all the cultural barriers that are so obvious — particularly in terms of learner readiness. E-learning must also be seen not as a cost, but as an investment, by both managers and employees. All respondents believed the internal network must be reliable if an e-learning solution is to work, and this was a lesson from the previous attempt of computer-based learning as one respondent recalls:.
Despite huge improvements this year in the development of the internal network, the respondents believed the organisation still had to tackle issues in regard to access, IT support, and bandwidth, if an e-learning solution would work. One respondent reported that slow computers were quite an issue, mainly due to the fact that computers have only been introduced broadly in the organisation for the last four years.