Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Elearning reflecting today's business environment

An article this week in The Financial Times argued that there is an additional dimension to the growth of online management learning. This growth is not because of access, flexibility or cost, but because it is "relevant to the realities of today’s business environment."

The article quotes Thomas Malone, professor of management and information technology at MIT Sloan School of Management: “Today’s business world is less and less face-to-face. Many companies today have remote teams. Increasingly the kind of interaction experience you need to be effective in business is not just face-to-face interaction, but text messaging and email. In some ways, the online environment will be a better way of learning those skills.” 

There is certainly an argument that people meet less and less on a face to face basis in business. There has been a dramatic growth in conference calls and virtual meetings. Thus in some ways the growth of elearning is simply following the general trend toward increasing activity online as the technology improves. It is also the case that people are increasingly comfortable with online and virtual activities. Is elearning though particularly relevant to developing the skills of managers who have remote teams or who manage suppliers remotely?

There can be little argument that elearning reflects the realities of today's business environment. Best practices in designing and delivering elearning such as engaging learners, providing flexible online support, giving access to social support through learning networks and making learning accessible via mobile devices, etc., are very relevant to managing remote teams. Thus the message could very well be in the medium.