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People have different opinions about e learning. Some people think that e-learning is innovative and it reduces the time and distance barriers of education while the other group thinks that e-learning leads to feelings of isolation and frustrations (Handzic & Ho-hur, 2005). "E-learning can be defined as using network technologies to create, foster, deliver and facilitate learning, anytime and anywhere" (Liaw, 2008 cited in Duan et.al., 2010). Due to globalisation corporations have to deal with more complex and uncertain situations nowadays. To survive and succeed in this environment the organisations have to keep up with the pace and have to be more innovative and efficient (Handzic & Ho-hur, 2005).
It is important to keep the employees up-to-date not only in the technology but also with the implications which use the technology and yield for more efficient and effective working (Newton & Doonga, 2007). Corporate e-learning can be done in the form of e-training. Newton (2007) & Doonga (2007) define Entraining as 'an environment in which training or instruction in a range of skills or techniques can be developed using computer technology'. The purpose of this paper is to identify the benefits & limitations of corporate e-learning to organisations. Corporate E-learning is the future of the business world. Corporate want to save more and more costs by having more corporate e-learning rather than sending their employees to different locations for getting the required training.
Â Literature review & Secondary Data:
The literature review will discuss the various advantages and limitations of e-learning. The literature reviewed considers both qualitative and quantitative analysis in their research. The purpose of the literature review is to find gaps in the study that has been conducted on e-learning. This includes benefits, limitations and purpose of e-learning.
Following are the benefits of e-learning:
1. Technological changes increase the velocity of work environment:Â
"Technology has changed the way people live, work, think, and learn" (Urdan & Weggen 2000). The work force of today has to be on their toes to get a contract, to achieve targets and all the challenges that come their way. They have to understand a lot of information in a short span of time. The rate at which new products and services are introduced in the market is extra ordinary. "As production cycles and life spans of products continue to shorten, information and training quickly become obsolete" (Urdan & Weggen 2000). The training managers have to deliver the services more efficiently and quickly. Training managers feel the urgency to deliver knowledge and skills more rapidly and efficiently whenever and wherever needed. In the age of just-in-time production, just-in-time training becomes a critical element to organizational success (Urdan & Weggen 2000).
2. Cost Savings:
Strother citing Newton & Doonga (2007) assesses the "effectiveness of e-learning in corporate training programs and gives some very impressive examples of ï¬nancial beneï¬ts of corporate e-learning. She quotes that IBM's reported saving of $200 million in 1999 through conversion of their training delivery methods to e-learning, Ernst and Young's reduction of training costs by 35% gained by replacing 80% of classroom instruction by using e-training and Rockwell Collins reduction of training expenditure of 40% by converting 25% of their traditional instruction to e-training" (Newton & Doonga, 2007) . Corporate e-learning also saves on the travelling of the trainers which can be used as optimum use of their skills.Â
3. Accessibility & Flexibility of delivery:
Schriver & Giles 1999 prove that one of the benefits of e-learning us the accessibility and flexibility of delivery. It is cheaper to deliver the projects through reduced opportunity costs and reduced time away from work. It also helps to reach the wider constituencies, also to the most remote areas.Â Â
4. Globalization of business is resulting in manifold challenges:
Advances in information technology and falling trade barriers facilitate business around the globe. As borders become less meaningful, global competition intensifies. International expansion has led to larger and more complex corporations. Today's businesses have more locations in different time zones and employ larger numbers of workers with diverse cultural backgrounds and educational levels than ever. Thus, more information has to be delivered in increasingly larger organizations, challenging internal planning, logistics, and distribution. Corporations worldwide are now seeking more innovative and efficient ways to deliver training to their geographically-dispersed workforce (Urdan & Weggen 2000).Â
5. Trainees learn at their own pace:
The trainees can take their own time in understanding the concept and don't have to rush. E-learning also helps them to have the training material in their gasp whenever required. Also it can be referred whenever needed (Elliot & Clayton, 2007).Â
Community building and Interactivity (Handzic & Ho-Hur, 2005):
E-learning helps in community building and increases a lot of interactivity between the trainer and the trainee between different parts of the world.
Source: Urdan & Weggen (2000)
The above pie chart shows the education and training market in the US in the year 2000.
A research was conducted in state of online learning in U.S. higher education. The study was aimed at answering some of the fundamental questions about the nature and extent of online education based on responses from more than 2,500 colleges and universities. The below graph indicates the growth of students taking at least one online course.
Exhibit 2: Increase in online enrolment form 2002 to 2006
Source: CIPD (2010)
Polls of 110 people were conducted and were asked different questions relating to e-learning. The following pie charts show that what people felt about the progress of e-learning in UK.
Exhibit 3 Exhibit 4
Exhibit 5 Exhibit 6
Source: Allen & Seaman (2007)
Exhibit 4,5,6 & 7 represent the percentage of answers the answers provided by the users in regards the statements on the progress of e-learning in UK organisations..
Limitations of e-learning:
"E-learning limitations can be categorized as technological limitations, personal issues and design limitations" (Wong, 2007).
Wong 2007 believes that for e-learning you need to have a computer or a laptop to have access to e-learning. Rumble (2000) cited in Wong (2007) says that e-learning comes with benefits such as unlimited access 24 hours, 7 days a week, this privilege does not seem to be feasible for some people in rural areas due to the inability to access Internet services. The Internet penetration rate in Malaysia is only 31.8 % (Phang, 2004 cited in Wong, 2007). Good internet speeds are the basic requirement and these are only available in few places and not in all. Bose 2003 cited in Wong 2007 mentioned that, while it is feasible to access to high-speed bandwidth within the university campus, it becomes a problem outside the campus, where Internet facilities are less sophisticated.
Handzic & Ho-hur (2007) say that a lot of researchers think that e-learning lead to feelings of isolation, frustration, anxiety and confusion.Â
Personal issues (Wong 2007):
Lack of personal technological skills can be an issue in e-learning. The new people coming and joining e-learning might feel clueless as they don't have a teacher to guide them. Â Elearners have to be techno savvy.
Hamid (2002) cited in Wong (2007) stated that technical skills could cause frustration to e-learning students due to the unconventional e-learning environment and isolation from others. Dringus (200) cited in Macpherson et al. (2004) agrees Hamid saying that e-learners may be unable to sustain their momentum unless they have right skills and they are self motivated.
Poor design of the e-learning courseware is a major issue for learners and e-learning providers Ivergard & Hunt (2005) cited in Wong (2007). The design should be easy to understand so that the learner has the motivation to learn. Courseware design should be tailored to the needs of the learners: it should be easy to use and students should have easy access to guidance and information (Howell, Williams & Lindsay 2003; James-Gordon, Young & Bal, 2003 cited in Wong 2007).
The following example explains how China adopted E-learning with the help of 5 influential factors (Duan et al., 2010).
Â the above figure explain the structural model key models explaining factors of e-learning.
Â Another example of corporate e-learning is taken up by Japan. The Japan e-learning market reached 1350 billion yen in 2004, an increase of 41.3% from 2003 (Schnack, 2005).
Traditional learning is sitting in the class physically and taking lessons. The traditional classroom setting adds value in terms of instruction clarity. Traditional learning is available almost every part of the world where education is available. Students and the teachers are comfortable with the classroom environment as they have been always used to it. Teaching in this environment is more informal (Chen & Jones, 2007). Traditional classroom teaching gives an opportunity to the students to ask spontaneous questions in the class. The teacher can answer to the queries of the student's right in the class. Traditional learning gives opportunity to students to interact with other students and have live discussions on topics and have different opinions on one concept. Interaction between students is an important part of individual development. Teachers use situations to explain concepts to students which give them a practice to think on the spot and come up with solutions in a quick time (Lunce, 2006).
Studies on e-learning have identified lots of benefits like cost savings, flexibility and accessibility of delivery and community building and interactivity (Newton & Doonga). Also there is extensive research on the limitations of e-learning.
The biggest difference between the two learning is the delivery methods so it is very important to do a proper research in this matter to find the differences. Important goal of this study was to be able to make meaningful comparisons between two delivery methods (Chen & Jones, 2007).
Mind the gap:
Studies on e-learning have identified a lot of benefits and limitations. There is not a lot of research done on the difference between traditional room learning andÂ e-learning. This research will give us an idea about what do people prefers? Though there are many benefits proven but it's the people who will be using e-learning in day to day life, so it is very important to take their opinion intoÂ consideration. In other words we will try to find the user friendly of e-learning in the opinion of the people using this. This research will also give an idea to the people planning to take up e-learning in future. This research should be able to justify the benefits and limitations of e-learning in comparison to the traditional classroom learning.
Research question: What do people prefer, e-learning or traditional classroom learning and why?
Methods, Methodology & Data Collection:
Methods are the techniques that are used to collect and analyse the data.
Methodology determines whether the implementation of particular methods is successful or not (Veal.
The method that can be used for this will be quantitative & qualitative methods. The qualitative methods will help gathering information in depth and will be more subjective. The quantitative research will be more objective and will be analysed more statistically.
Samples / Focus groups:
People from different organisations who use e-learning, a sample will be from organisation which does not use e-learning, a group of students who use learning and the last group who does not. Focus groups can be made and asked about the benefits of e-learning and traditional learning. This debate will give a good knowledge about the thoughts of people about both the concepts. The findings from the focus groups will help us to prepare the questionnaire for the in depth interviews.
Different questionnaires will be used for different groups. As the demographics of each group will be different the questions have to be prepared keeping the purpose of the research in mind. Questions asked to the organisations using e-learning will be mostly based on the benefits, limitations and the improvements to be made in e-learning, while on the other side the non user group will be educated first about e-learning and then asked whether they will be keen to move to e-learning. The questions will be based on workplace e-learning. Same technique of two different questionnaire used for two groups will be used for the student groups but with different set of questions which will be more based on e-learning school education.
The questionnaire made with the help of the findings of the focus groups will be explanatory. In-depth interviews will give an insight of the thinking of people regarding these concepts. The in depth interviews questions will be connected to each other.
Surveys will be conducted in general to get statistics of the number of people interested in e-learning or traditional learning. The questionnaire of the survey will be a mix of open ended and close ended questions. The questions in this survey will be more general to get the numbers only, like how many people are interested in e-learning and how many in traditional classroom learning.
Data Analysis will be divided into 3 different stages:
Data Reduction: The irrelevant data will be discarded and only the data which is necessary and related to the research topic will be kept.
Data Display :The data will be displayed with the help of graphs and tables as visual graphs can give a better understanding of the data.
Conclusion: The findings and the important stuff of the research will be entered in the form of a report. These conclusions are stored so that they be used for future researches as well.
As seen through the various journals and sources related to e-learning, it is quite obvious that the story is rather two-fold. There are studies conducted to test the worthiness of e-journal, whether people prefer to use this method, but as indicated earlier, there isn't much research on comparing the traditional classroom method of teaching with the so-called future of teaching - e-learning. Where corporate are required to provide knowledge through interdisciplinary areas of the organization, e-learning tends to be a cost-saving method of knowledge dispersion. Though this might be true, there are a lot of people who prefer human interaction, rather the traditional method of learning. Based on this, I decided that future research can be conducted to find out what types of industries, entities or any such establishment, hence an increased number of surveys throughout the workspace spectrum are extremely important to find out the preferences of people in different parts of the globe.