E-Learning for the BC Tech Industry: The Big 8 - Questions to Answer in Planning & Implementing E-Learning                              An opinionated monthly column exploring the current use, future potential, and commercial value of e-learning in BCs high tech sector.

E-Learning: The Big 8 - Questions to Answer in Planning & Implementing E-Learning:

July 27th, 2001

By Paul Stacey

E-learning has passed through the awareness stage. Corporate executives, human resource professionals, and trainers everywhere are aware of the potential and promise of e-learning. Awareness is now pervasive.


Many organizations are transitioning from e-learning awareness and fact-finding to e-learning planning and implementation.


Over the last little while I've been helping a number of organizations plan and implement e-learning. Mostly I've been helping senior management with visioning, strategic planning, funding applications, and market research.


Out of this work a consistent set of questions have emerged that virtually every organization has to answer. I've distilled these questions down into what I call the "Big 8".


Think of the Big 8 as pragmatic questions for planning, managing and implementing e-learning. You might also think of them as sections or structural elements of an e-learning business plan.


Each of the Big 8 questions have a number of subordinate questions.


Question #1

How will e-learning be governed, planned, and managed?

- Is e-learning strategic for the organization?

- Is there an executive level champion?

- Is e-learning an extension of existing business units or something new?

- Will e-learning report up through HR?, Sales/Mktg?, IS? Engineering?


Question #2

What is the optimum business model for the provision of e-learning?

- What funding is available?

- What is the Return On Investment (ROI)?

- What kinds of successful e-learning business models are there?

- Is the e-learning revenue generating?


Question $3

Who are the resources that will create, deliver, and support the e-learning?

- How will the production and delivery be done?

- Do you have existing resources or will new resources be required?

- Is your Information Technology dept. involved?

- Will you outsource or hire?


Question #4

What are the e-learning success models and pedagogies?

- Who is the target learner and how do they want to learn?

- Use of asynchronous vs. synchronous?

- Replicate traditional classroom model online or new models?

- What are the research results?

- Blending and integrating online with face-to-face?


Question #5

What curriculum and content can be targeted for online?

- Does e-learning make sense for all subjects?

- What is available off-the-shelf and what might I have to build myself?

- Where can I get early returns?


Question #6

What educational technologies will be used to develop and deliver the e-learning?

- Learning Management Systems?

- Course Management Systems?

- Authoring tools?

- Delivery tools?

- E-commerce components?

- Integration of several systems?


Question #7

What is the production process for development and delivery of e-learning?

- Lone ranger vs. team?

- Digital rights?

- Production process and scheduling?

- System Design process?

- Software engineering process?


Question #8

How will e-learning be evaluated and revised over its life-cycle?

- What does success look like?

- How will you measure ROI?

- How will it be scaled? extended? transferred?

- Is there a plan/budget for life cycle revisions/maintenance?


Looking for even more resources to help you plan/implement e-learning? Here are a few more:


Six Steps to E-Learning - Where Are You?, Brandon Hall, http://www.brandonhall.com


Build a Business Case for Online Learning Projects, Saul Carliner, Learning Circuits, February 2000, ASTD



Are You Ready for E-Learning?, Samantha Chapnick, Learning Circuits, November 2000, ASTD http://www.learningcircuits.org/nov2000/chapnick.html


All these questions and suggestions can seem a bit overwhelming. The key is to use them as guides to define a structure and approach that will work for your organization.


Answering the Big 8 questions ensures you've done your homework. The answers you come up with build a business case and plan for your e-learning initiative.


Paul Stacey is the Director of Corporate Education and Training at the Technical University of British Columbia, a long time education professional in the high tech private sector, and an e-learner. Contact: Paul Stacey

What Do You Think? Talk Back To Paul Stacey

E-Learning: An opinionated monthly column exploring the current use, future potential, and commercial value of e-learning in BCs high tech sector.

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