Organizations around the world have been saving money and time, while delivering more learning, by transitioning their learning initiatives from the classroom to the desktop. E-learning has definitely taken off, but how do you ensure that the e-learning initiatives you start get off the ground and fly?
Getting an e-learning initiative up and running is not devoid of challenges. One thing most learning executives will need to take into consideration is the readiness and willingness of their workforce to make the switch. Companies that employ professionals with plenty of technical experience, such as telecommunications, information technology and others, will not face too much difficulty in convincing their employees of the value of e-learning. But what about companies whose employees are less technically savvy? They not only need to convince their workforce that e-learning can be as effective as classroom learning, but they also may need to get their learners up to speed on the latest technologies so that they can use the new computer-based training.
Paul Palumbo, director of quality and training for Crown Cork & Seal, which makes one out of every five beverage cans used in North America and Europe, said that when making the switch from instructor-led training to e-learning, paying attention to issues surrounding the cultural change is imperative. When Palumbo joined Crown Cork & Seal, it was using full-time trainers to cover basic topics in an instructor-led format. Since then, the company has implemented a Web-based delivery system to keep its workforce up to date on important policies and procedures and to ensure compliance with regulations.
“The cultural change is a significant one, because we went from an environment that was 100 percent facilitator-led training, or classroom-based,” explained Palumbo. “You have this mindset or this culture that ‘I’m not really being trained unless there’s a trainer standing in front of me delivering the material.’ ”
According to Palumbo, the new computer-based training faced a great deal of opposition when it was introduced. The manufacturing employees simply didn’t feel like they were really being trained without the classroom element.
“You can’t make a jump from classroom to solely Web-based training and have it be effective,” said Palumbo, “because there’s still a lot of people who have to go through a learning curve. Our biggest challenge was that we were dealing with manufacturing people who, in a lot of cases, their only introduction to computers was through their kids at home. And now, we’re saying if you want training in this topic, or if you need training in this topic, you’re going to have to sit down in front of a computer. There’s been a long, gradual learning curve there, and it’s still a challenge.”
So how did Crown Cork & Seal address these challenges? According to Palumbo, the company addressed the issue directly by blending its computer-based training with reinforcement from a subject matter expert in the plant.
“What we found is that you need to have a blended approach,” said Palumbo. “You still need someone in the plant who is an expert in that subject who could, after the training, sit down with the employees and say, ‘Is there anything you didn’t understand? Do you have any questions?’ And we still do follow-up in the plant, where we go in and see how they’re doing and work primarily with the on-site trainer—not so much the students themselves or the employees themselves.”
By offering the computer-based training in conjunction with an on-site trainer who can help clarify issues and answer questions, Crown Cork & Seal ensures that the training is well received and that its learners are “getting it.”
To find out more about the results Crown Cork & Seal has achieved through computer-based training, see “Quenching the Thirst for Learning at Crown Cork & Seal,” online at https://www.clomedia.com/content/templates/clo_inpractice.asp?articleid=98&zoneid=92.
Emily Hollis is associate editor for Chief Learning Officer Magazine. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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