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U.K. Study Finds 'People Problems' in e-Learning

By Bob Little / November 2009

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Attitudes in Britain toward the use of learning technologies are changing, which has implications for U.S.-based firms that want to use e-learning in its U.K. offices.

A recently published benchmarking study by Towards Maturity showed that 64 percent of organizations in the U.K. are increasing their learning technologies budgets in 2009 for the following top three reasons:

  • 1. strengthening on-boarding training,
  • 2. improving the quality of learning, and
  • 3. developing a better qualified workforce.

By way of contrast, in 2007 the most popular reasons for using learning technologies were to improve access to learning and reduce costs.

The report's other key findings are that the following development tools have seen the greatest increase in use since 2007:

  • 1. podcasting (up 195 percent),
  • 2. rapid development tools (up 43 percent), and
  • 3. virtual classrooms (up 23 percent).

Originally funded by the U.K. Government, but now an independent community interest company, Towards Maturity aims to help organizations improve the impact of learning technologies at work. Intended to discover how employers are making use of learning technologies, it currently supports a community of more than 1,000 organizations with research, case studies, and contributions of from an ever-increasing virtual advisory network.

The greatest barrier to successful implementation of learning technologies was cited as "people factors." More than 50 percent of respondents said reluctance of workers to adopt new technologies was the number one "people factor" problem. Following closely behind, the next most significant barriers were cost restrictions (47 percent) and poor IT infrastructure (41 percent).

Towards Maturity's report offers some encouraging signs for the learning technologies sector, notably more sophisticated and business goal-oriented reasons for their uptake. However, lack of relevant knowledge and skills combined with a reluctance to adopt new technology seems to be the main reason for holding back progress in this sector and preventing U.K. workers generally from embracing technology as a means of helping them acquire the knowledge and skills needed to help them do their jobs more effectively and efficiently.

Ah! If only we didn't need people, then e-learning would be simple!


  • Tue, 22 Jun 2010
    Post by Richard

    I posted this in the Part I comments, but it actually fits this section better. Sorry!

    Another option that was not in scope for this series of articles is one where the enterprise "rents" an LMS provider who also can provide development tools. In my former company we were charged a nominal fee--I think $25.00 per user--per year, and given access to all the storage and LMS features we needed. In addition, we were given access to various development tools--sorry, I forget which ones--that we could use to develop courseware whenever we wanted. There were no limitations on anything--time, storage, etc.--and after an initial set-up payment of a few thousand dollars, we had our own managed environment and complete 24/7/385 access for our people, who traveled constantly and were all over.

    For that enterprise, this was a much better investment than an LMS system, the HW and in-house support it required, plus the purchase of authoring tools. The vendor worked with us to set-up our site as our own, which was totally secure, and to set up the LMS and the course library. Since we dealt with 30+ technical vendors at any given time, courseware from their companies was also listed on the site, although students typically had to go to the vendor site and register, take the course, etc. It finally gave us one place where employees could find everything they needed rather than visiting vendor sites, coming into town for specific classes (although sometimes necessary for labs) and keeping up with their IEPs (individual education plans) themselves. Everything was in one place, and the cost was minimal.

    For a strictly academic setting this may not be the right choice, but it certainly worked for us.



  • Wed, 25 Nov 2009
    Post by Aris Louvris

    At the Lisbon European Council held on March 2000, the Heads and State and Government acknowledged that "the European Union is confronted with a quantum leap stemming from globalisation and the new knowledge-driven economy" and set the Union a major strategic goal: "to become the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-driven economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion".

    The eLearning initiative seeked to mobilise the educational and cultural communities, as well as the economic and social players in Europe, in order to speed up changes in the education and training systems for Europe's move to a knowledge-based society.

    Almost 10 years after, in the context of evaluating the COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE COUNCIL AND THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT - The eLearning Action Plan - "Designing tomorrow's education", and the final (2009) REPORT FROM THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION TO THE COUNCIL, THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, THE EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMITTEE AND THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS: ┬┐verall, the eLearning programme contributed very positively to the objectives of Education and Training 2010. It performed especially well on developing skills for the knowledge economy and ensuring access to ICTs.

    In the context of the above, and based on the fact that the eLearning activities have now been mainstreamed into the Lifelong Learning Programme, let's celebrate tomorrow which is already today, and let's make 11th of March International Day of elearning!

  • Tue, 24 Nov 2009
    Post by Anne Pauker Kreitzberg

    We are still learning how to create the best e-learning experience from a student-centric perspective. Often e-courses are just instructor-led course repackaged into a virtual format. Instead, we should use principals and techniques we use in user experience/user-centered web application design. There is a lot of room for improving the experience, particularly the interactions which are often very simplistic. They might work well in the elementary school but are not engaging or sophisticated enough for adults. As we get better at incorporating video so that learners can interact in a more "real-life" fashion, this will also help.

  • Tue, 24 Nov 2009
    Post by Prathap

    Users of our system also share the same sentiment - the people factor. They are still hesitant to embrace technology enabled learning as they miss the personal touch of a trainer. That too in a country like India where a trainee is largely dependent on trainer's knowledge, it becomes much more difficult for us to pursue them into e-learning.