The learning portal: uniting training systems for e-learning success
By Sybille McCloghrie
Gartner has identified e-learning as one of 2004's hot technologies, but South African companies which have invested millions in implementing e-learning solutions are finding that these solutions are not being taken up by targeted users. Key to creating a true learning organisation, says SYBILLE MCCLOGHRIE, director of Tilos Business Solutions, is a learning portal that unites various training systems under one banner.
In their drive to implement e-learning, organisations
have made mistakes arising from their unfamiliarity with the overall
requirements of an e-learning solution. e-Learning offers many advantages
over traditional training systems and may in most cases be a superior approach
to training delivery. However, the vast number of e-learning suppliers, and the
wide variation in technology, functionality and services only add to the
confusion around effective e-learning implementation. That's where the learning
portal comes in.
An e-learning portal that is compatible with most content authoring tools has the ability to consolidate disparate learning management systems and diverse content under one umbrella, allowing for a diversity of courseware to be incorporated into one consistent front-end.
The e-learning portal is the glue to a learning solution within an organisation. It provides a company with one place of learning, enabling users to log into the portal and have access to all training content, learning management systems, HR systems and more. Also, any third-party system within an organisation can have access from the portal where required.
For an e-learning programme to be accepted by its intended users, it must be relevant. This means it must be aligned with an organisation's values and goals, have the support of senior management, and be linked to all other HR systems, such as performance management.
A portal interface allows clients to push information down to users based on comparisons to key performance indicators (KPIs), balanced scorecards, analytics, and performance management, rather than relying on people to pull down the information in an erratic or unstructured manner. Thus existing investments in technology and related e-learning assets can be exploited to their fullest extent, while change management and adoption issues are minimised.
An e-learning portal is also fundamental in addressing compliance issues, as well as reports for the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA), for those organisations wishing to claim back part of their Skills Development Levy for training that has been undertaken. A solution that offers some standard reporting functionality will enable you to add further elements through simple configuration rather than customisation. Thus total cost of ownership (TCO) is not prohibitive when it comes to scalability.
The "blended learning" approach incorporates classroom-based training, ad hoc content training and self-study learning over the Web - all of which can in turn be incorporated into a learning strategy. This results in reduced learning and training costs through reduction in travel and accommodation expenses, as well as less time in the classroom.
This integrated learning management environment is ideally suited to providing the robust and interactive assessment and analytical platform required to deliver summarised and high-level training information to management to facilitate and quicken the decision-making process. An e-learning solution that features this component provides the ability to store, mine and extract learning data in the organisation into simple, readable, statistical information.
A standard framework of learning
It is key to an organisation's growth to provide a single place of learning in a company. There should be a single look and feel for the organisation and a standard framework of learning.
A proactive system can push down the right information at the right time and place to correspond with the profile of a person in terms of career and development paths. This gives learners access to the training content/information they need to perform their jobs, which in turn allows critical business decisions to be made faster.
This also assists in the initial creation and the constant reinforcement of corporate identity, within the e-learning space, via one view/entry point of the portal and logon that can be customised to the organisation's brand.
From a corporate social responsibility perspective, the learning portal can be extended to the greater community and families of employees for literacy training, for example.