In many industries, a growing need for distance education exists. This is especially true in the healthcare industry where new knowledge is essential to enhance patient care. Professional requirements also require hospital staff to learn new information. In this article, Turnbull, Wills, and Gobbi (2011) talk about eLearning in a nursing program in Thailand and how they faced challenges due to several factors. They mention that one needs to critically consider the factors of infrastructure, finance, policies, and culture (IF-PC) when deciding to pursue eLearning as a source of teaching, since there are many drivers and barriers to eLearning.
Gobbit et. al (2001) conducted a mixed method study consisting of interviews, questionnaires, and surveys. The study examined the eLearning program at this nursing college in Thailand and came up with several findings. Benefits of eLearning can be great due to the access of new knowledge, allowing hospital staff to enhance patient care. However, technological barriers prevent many from being able to utilize such resources. For example, many of the staff members were unable to access computers, while others had slow Internet connections. According to the author, the success of an eLearning program can be strongly influenced by the four domains mentioned in the article (infrastructure, finance, policies, and culture).
Turnbull, N., Willis, G.B., & Gobbi, M.O. (2010). The challenge to the four-status e-learning model for healthcare professionals: a critique on a developing world case study. Paper presented at the 3rd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation, November 15-17, 2010, Madrid, Spain.
Companies are rapidly implementing eLearning as a method of training. The eLearning sector as a vehicle for training is becoming larger as technology gets cheaper and more advanced. According to Nichols (2004), the way eLearning benefits companies is that it is lower in cost while it has a higher output through automation. The author writes in his article that the financial benefits still need to be considered when deciding to pursue eLearning training. As with all decisions, there exist benefits as well as drawbacks.
One of the drawbacks to eLearning initiatives is that there exists a high fixed cost. Some of the costs related to eLearning are personnel (Instructional System Designers, eLearning developers, curriculum developers, programmers, graphic designers, and a few others). Additionally, the level of interaction and simulations significantly affects costs as well. For example, a course on sexual harassment might decide to include a video scenario using professional actors rather than text with images.
On the other hand, the benefit of turning training into eLearning over instructor led courses (ILTs) is that learning of new knowledge is much quicker than the traditional methods. For example, a company introducing a new technology to its employees requires tremendous amount of knowledge transfer. Providing eLearning training allows employees to learn them quickly at their own pace. Contrastingly, providing instructor led training can take much longer to learn the new knowledge since training depends on the speed of the trainer.
When an organization decides to implement eLearning as a form of training, Nichols (2004) writes that it should depend on the contribution to cost, quality, service, and speed. Although some aspects of the projected costs may be subjective, the author suggests that it can play a contributing factor in the decision making process, while getting “buy-in” from managers and directors (p. 33).
Nichols, M. (2004). The financial benefits of eLearning. Journal of Distance Learning, 8 (1), 25-33.