Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Does e-learning equate to penny pinching or improved client services?

TAFE SA is a large Vocational Education and Training organisation, helping to skill the South Australian workforce.

Like most government organisations in recent years its funding has been 'squeezed through a wringer' and Management have been continuously instructed to 're-construct' their budgets (ie 'reconstruct' meaning CUT).

Current State Government initiatives and the need to upskill a lot of people quickly due to skills shortages has meant that flexible training options, including e-learning, have been given 'greater attention' by TAFE SA management.

Following a meeting between Managers, Program Leaders, Trainers and Industry today to 'brainstorm' the possibilities of developing a project to adopt more flexible Electrical and Instrumentational training options, my Manager commented that this project fitted in nicely with our Director's call for 'working better for less'.

I agree with this concept - it's sound business management to want to maximise your dollar - however it is not one which our staff take to lightly. They see the concept of 'working better for less' to mean increased workloads for them.

So if we are to encourage and motivate our staff to change their currently training practices, and embrace e-learning, then we need to demonstrate:

- that flexible learning offers better customer service,
- that e-learning can provide a learner centred environment which develops independent learners, and
- that accessibility and choice allows more of the population to undertake formal accredited training.

So does your organistion consider e-learning to equate to money saved or does it see e-learning as a means of providing a better service and increased accessibility to its clients?


Ross Isenegger said...

I work for a school board that has started a modest e-Learning initiative. The big drivers so far have been:
- making courses available to students which would not otherwise run in a particular semester
- offer a delivery mechanism that might appeal more to certain type of learner
- desire to explore an emerging methodology

theother66 (formally MadMiller) said...

Thanks Ross

This is so refreshing to hear that an educational institute is focusing in on its primary business objective - to provide education and training :)

h said...

Hi Allison - I actually think that the e-learning is often the more expensive option.

Good 'elearning' asks difficult questions about student and practitioner motivation. It demands strategic change from the organisation, and individual/collective learning journeys from all involved. This is before materials have been developed.

While the use of student generated content can help reduce costs, as do learning object repositories, there is a large cognitive load on all....

I believe firmly in the benefits of the journey. Improved services can be attributed to the 'elearning'. However, a more realistic evaluation is that improved services arise organisational change that occurs when we ask the 'hard questions' about what we deliver, why we deliver it, and what we need to support new methodologies.

Organisations which approach elearning as a means to save money, are deluding themselves.. Those which approach elearning as a means to find a new education paradigm will undoubtedly reap the benefits...

At least that's my 10c worth. :)

theother66 (formally MadMiller) said...

Dear 'h'

Thank you for your supporting comments.

The change to e-learning in our Institute is more about 'change management' than cost savings.

Perhaps the process of change management is just too hard, and budget cutting is a much easier, quick stick mentality towards change management.

However, which everyway - if this institute is willing to embrace e-learning for whatever reason, let's hope they understand all of the consequences for implementing this change effectively.