Kopp, D. M. (2014). Human resource development: Performance improvement through learning. Bridgepoint

Kopp, D. M. (2014). Human resource development: Performance improvement through learning. Bridgepoint Education.
E-learning
Type the phrase “e-learning in training” into Google and the search will produce no fewer than 75,000 hits! The extraordinary growth of information technologies in today’s world now requires that a trainer also make decisions about how to develop and use electronic support related to the training (Dobbs, 2006; United Nations, 2013; Onguko, Jepchumba, & Gaceri, 2013) and especially when e-learning is used to supplement traditional face-to-face training delivery, known as blended learning (Bonk, Kim, & Zeng, 2005).
The allure of e-learning in training is based on two primary issues: speed and savings (Allen, 2013; ASTD, 2012; Jochems, Koper, & Van Merrienboer, 2013; Pelet, 2013). Well-researched organizational examples of this idea include the Dow Chemical Company, which reduced average spending from $95 per learner per course on classroom training to only $11 per learner per course with electronic delivery; this reduction translated into an annual savings of $34 million (Shepherd, 2003). Ernst & Young cut training costs 35% by condensing 2,900 hours of classroom training into 700 hours of web-based learning, 200 hours of distance learning, and 500 hours of classroom instruction—a cut of 52% (LiveOps Receives Brandon Hall Group Excellence in Learning Award, 2013). Specifically, e-learning, especially when used to supplement traditionally face-to-face methods, can accomplish the same amount of instruction or information as in a classroom 25% to 60% of the time (Jochems et al., 2013; Rosenberg, 2001).
According to the Brandon Hall Group (“LiveOps Receives,” 2013), there are several reasons e-learning can reduce the time it takes to train people:
Learners can go at their own pace, not at the pace of the slowest member of a group.
Time in classrooms can be spent on questions or topics other learners introduce that are irrelevant to the needs of the individual learner.
There is less social interaction time.
It takes less time to start and wind up a learning session.
There is less travel time to and from a training event.
Learners learn what they need to learn, and they can skip elements of a program.
But What Is E-learning?
E-learning is any technology-enhanced learning, computer-based instruction, Internet-based training, or virtual instruction (Larson & Lockee, 2013; Pelet, 2013; Vijayasamundeeswari, 2013; Wan, 2013). Specifically, e-learning includes numerous types of media that deliver text, audio, images, animation, and streaming video. It includes technology applications as well as local intranet/extranet, smart phone apps, and web-based learning (Wan, 2013; Werner & DeSimone, 2011).
E-learning is unique because it is both a delivery method and a medium; it can be self-paced and asynchronous learning; that is, not in real time, such as with the use of a YouTube® video or podcast. Or, with an instructor, it can be synchronous; that is, in real-time, such as that seen on platforms like Skype® or FaceTime® (Allen, 2006; Driscoll, 2010). E-learning is usually blended in conjunction with other delivery methods, such as instructor led (U.S. Department of Labor, 2010; Dobbs, 2006). In other words, when it comes to e-learning, it is not necessarily an either–or approach, but could include both. However, e-learning has issues other delivery methods may not have. According to Lin (2007), when developing e-training tools, particularly, issues of copyright, learner privacy, and accessibility must be considered.
However, as technology becomes more pervasive in the workplace, e-learning still must be developed with adult learning principles in mind (Larson & Lockee, 2013; Wan, 2013). That is, e-learning, too, must be interactive, problem oriented, and relevant to real-world issues, and it must lead the learner toward intrinsic motivation (Dobbs, 2006; Knowles, 1973; Stolovitch & Keeps, 2011). With this in mind, e-learning seems to be effective, according to Allen (2013); a 9-year survey of the research literature in training published by Tobias and Fletcher (2000) and commissioned by the American Psychological Society says: “Learners learn more using computer-based instruction than they do with conventional ways of teaching, as measured by higher post-treatment test scores” (p. 414).
HRD in Practice: How E-learning Becomes Less Expensive Than Traditional Training: A Detailed Example of a Healthcare Organization
A healthcare customer had a requirement to train 500 learners. The training would require 25 weeks to cycle the learners through a traditional classroom or 1 week to train all of the learners using custom online training. After calculating a total cost savings of $1,294,000, the company decided to choose an online learning delivery strategy to save money and train the employees in a shorter time frame.
Table 5.3 by consulting firm SyberWorks (2014) gives an example of the typical components that make up training expenses and then compares the classroom setting with custom online training. The return-on-investment for e-learning can be 50% to 60% greater than for traditional training, which itself can have a fourfold ROI, if done properly. Table 5.3 assumes a traditional classroom training plan that includes 500 trainees who each experience a week of training, travel for half of them (250 employees), the time constraint of a 3-month rollout (5 trainers, 10 locations)—all compared to an equivalent e-learning scenario using very conservative assumptions, including an opportunity cost rate of $400 per day.
Table 5.3: Example of ROI calculations
Training expense
Classroom training
E-learning
Wages of trainees ($20/hour, burdened)
$400,000
$240,000
Travel costs (50% of people traveling)
$250,000
$ —
Trainer wages
$47,500
$11,400
Trainer Travel
$20,000
$ —
Development costs (custom training)
$160,000
$400,000
Delivery systems (first year amortized)
$ —
$35,000
Totals
$877,500
$686,400
Source: SyberWorks. (2014). E-Learning benefits and ROI comparison of e-learning vs. traditional training, from http://www.syberworks.com/articles/e-learningROI.htm. Used with permission of SyberWorks, Inc. Copyright 2014 SyberWorks, Inc.
These figures indicate that the e-learning approach, given conservative assumptions, saves approximately 30% in the first year of implementation; in the second and later years, when development costs are not a factor for this course, the savings for e-learning grows to nearly 50%. In addition, the computer-based training or web-based training can be rolled out in half the time, once developed.
Consider This
The expenses outlined by SyberWorks summarize tangible costs; what could be some intangible costs of e-learning, if any?
What assumptions does the ROI calculation make about the organization’s capability (for example, infrastructure) for e-learning?
Explain why trainer wages would be less in an e-learning scenario.
Selecting Training Media
According to Piskurich (2010), certain training media are recommended over other types depending, on the key variables of use and audience size (see Table 5.4).
Table 5.4: Selecting training media
Purpose
Type of media
Most desirable
Alternative
Least desirable
Explain and clarify
Handouts
Slideshow presentation
Video(s)
Board
Flip chart
No media used; just lecture
Basis for discussion
Video(s)
Handouts
Flip chart
Slideshow presentation
Board
Organize discussion
Handouts
Flip chart
Board
Slideshow presentation
Video(s)
Summarize
Handouts
Slideshow presentation
Video(s)
Board
Flip chart
Educate
Handouts
Board
Flip chart
Video(s)
Slideshow presentation
Audience size
Small
Handouts
Board
Flip chart
Video(s)
Slideshow presentation
Large
Handouts
Slideshow presentation
Video(s)
Board
Flip chart
Source: Adapted from Piskurich, G. M. (2010). Rapid training development: Developing training courses fast and right. New York: Wiley.
For example, although PowerPoint® is desirable for explanation and clarification, it is not meant to educate the trainees; handouts or a (black)board are more appropriate to educate. Also, a PowerPoint® presentation might be too formal and stilted for a small training session. Likewise, flip charts and whiteboards are not appropriate media for audiences.
In their study of the use of certain training media (see Table 5.5), Hirumi, Bradford, and Rutherford (2011) found that the minimum and maximum development hours of training materials was a function of course material stability. That is, if the training materials and media are considered very stable (with no significant changes predicted for more than 3 years), then the course materials are considered more stable.
Table 5.5: Comparison of minimum and maximum development hours for training materials
Medium
Minimum development hours per training hour
Maximum development hours per training hour
Print
10
150
Audio
20
200
Video
50
500
Videoconferencing
10
250
Simulation or virtual reality
200
2,000
While use and audience size drive media selection, course developers should keep in mind a list of media tools that range from high development costs for very stable content to low development costs for changing content. For example, although the Second Life® virtual reality software ultimately may be effective, it may take longer to recoup the initial training investment due to up to 2,000 hours of development time.
HRD in Practice: IBM Uses Second Life® Virtual Software for Training and Team Building
Second Life® is an online virtual world developed by Linden Lab. It was launched on June 23, 2003, and recently celebrated 10 years as the Internet’s largest 3-D environment software. The power of Second Life® is that remote users interact with each other through avatars (also called residents) who can meet other residents, socialize, participate in individual and group activities, and create and trade virtual property and services with one another. Companies like Cisco Systems and the Intel Corporation use the online world for meetings, interviews, guest speaker events, and training for other employees. And now, the International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) is embracing the virtual world it created for its employees. Chuck Hamilton, the virtual learning leader at IBM’s Center for Advanced Learning, claims that Second Life® is ideal for the company. Hamilton recently told Hypergrid Business, “At IBM, we have over 400,000 employees and 70 percent or so are outside the Americas and 44 percent of the population works outside a traditional office—we are virtual by nature.”
Source: IBM dives into Second Life. (n.d.). Retrieved from IBM website: http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/library/os-social-secondlife
Consider This
Why would software such as Second Life® encourage team building among the users?
How might a virtual environment encourage trainer participation?
Does virtual software like Second Life® diminish the challenges of diversity in the workplace?
Other Factors That Affect Development Time
A recent study from the ASTD (Kapp & Defelice, 2009) suggests that development times may vary widely as a function of the scope of work, technology, and review time. Specifically, it was noted that factors that affected development time included:
lack of understanding of one’s responsibility to the project; this factor included not allotting enough time to review work, SME unavailability, and lack of provision of materials in a timely manner;
organizational changes; changes impacting either resources for the project or the overall project; and
incompatible technology and/or lack of knowledge of a technology. It was noted several times that the clients’ technology was incompatible and/or there was a learning curve to using the new tools.
Training materials review