New information technologies are creating more and more ways for Business and IT professionals to gain the management and technical skills they need to perform effectively.
There have been extreme predictions over the past decade as to how e-learning will take over from all other modes of education. The reality is more subtle, more interesting – and not so predictable.
Individuals and companies are quickly adopting new technologies in many varied ways, though there continues to be a place for classroom based training for the foreseeable future.
The Changing World of Learning
GSV Advisors have forecast strong growth in global educational spend from 2012 to 2017. Corporate and government spend is forecast to increase at 8% per annum; e-learning is predicted to grow at 23%.
In 2011 Sebastian Thrun, a Stanford professor, offered a free artificial-intelligence course attracting 160,000 students in 190 countries. The resulting storm of publicity encouraged elite research universities worldwide to offer Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).
In the US, 32% of higher education students now take at least one course online.
Axelos provides an accreditation framework to support best practice service management and project management guidance – ITIL and PRINCE2. In the first half of 2013 the rate of increase in PRINCE2 exams taken online was 119% compared to prior year. The increase in conventional exams was 11%. This is a direct reflection of changing approaches to PRINCE2 training.
According to a 2013 survey by the CIPD (the UK professional body for HR) the proportion of organisations using e-learning is steady at 74%, but the proportion of employees within these organisations using e-learning has increased.
UK based training company Focus on Training has launched a virtual classroom option for many of its IT technical courses earlier this year. It now offers more than 1,000 courses where delegates can join a live tutor in an interactive online environment which mimics many of the features of a conventional class.
For many business professionals, especially in IT, simply keeping skills up to date is a growing challenge. A recent survey by the British Computer Society (BCS) reported that 78% of those surveyed believe their employees committed to less CPD than they would like, or none at all. Online learning and social learning (eg expert webinars) are playing an increasingly important role in meeting the skills needs of this group.
National and regional differences are breaking down. If individuals want to be a software tester the chances are they will study an ISTQB syllabus wherever they are in the world. If they want to lead agile projects they are likely to take the Certified ScrumMaster course. If they want to implement “Lean” then they will study Six Sigma.
Shift Towards Blended Learning Solutions
The safest prediction in terms of types of learning is that the range of options will continue to grow and that they will be deployed in ever more varied combinations.
Blended learning where instructor led and e-learning is combined scored highest in terms of effectiveness, though it is adopted by only 63% of organizations. Close behind in terms of effectiveness were formal on-the-job training, mentoring-coaching, and instructor led classroom training. Conventional classroom training is used by over 90% of companies.
For many subjects the concept of a pure classroom course is being eroded. “Classroom” instructors are making the most of new technologies whether it is online pre-study, exam simulators, podcasts, break-out tasks in the form of online gaming, or use of online resources such as video.
Self-paced e-learning packages have improved over recent years though, as reported by the CIPD, their biggest weakness is low completion rates. The better examples are no longer simply a re-packaging of dull power-point slides. They engage the learner with multiple media; they encourage interaction; they are often supported with access to user forums and expert tutors.
About Focus on Training:
Focus specialises in Project Management & IT best practice skills development. They network with the best trainers to provide open course and in-house training solutions.
Visit http://www.focus-on-training.co.uk/ for more information.
Name: Rex Gibson
Organization: Focus on Training
Phone: 0845 450 6120