Sunday, April 13, 2003

Assignment : Module 2 e-Learning in Practice.
Instructor : Anne Bartlett-Bragg
Due Date : 03/05/2003.
Subject : 015402 e-Learning Experiences.
Student : Mark Cotter - 01028392.

Introduction :
In this essay I will discuss what is meant by Return On Investments in the e-Learning environment.I will then compare 2 e-Learning case studies to demonstrate my understanding of e-Learning in an organisational context.

My understanding of R.O.I. is that it is used in planning an learning project and in this case an e-Learning project. It is a method of presicely calculating the benefits that the e-Learning project will generate once the project has been implemented. It is sometimes extremely difficult to completely measure the benefits of an e-Learning project before it is implemented because not all the benefits are clear.

I believe that there are two levels of calculating R.O.I.

  • Firstly - There are the extremely obvious cost savings that are associated with reducing travel costs.
  • Secondly - There are subtle returns that are more dufficult to measure. eg. Increased student Motivation.

I personally feel that inorder for e-Learning to become a successful mode of corporate training in the future then the ROI must be properly measured and documented.

Return on investment is probably the most important aspect of e-Learning projects in the modern world today. There are very few organisations that have an unlimited budget to spend on training and development. In times of economic downturn the Training and Development section is normally the first section to experience budget cuts.

Therefore, I consider the measurement of ROI a vital aspect of the future of e-Learning in modern organisations.

The two case studies that I will compare are :

  • Speed and Reach - A case study of e-Learning in Ford Australia's Dealership Network.
  • The First Five Years - A case study of QANTAS College Online 1996-2001.

Ford Motor Company

The Ford Motor Company is the world's second largest automotive company with motor vehicle brand names such as, Ford, Mercury, Mazda, Martin, Jaguar, Lincoln, Volvo and Land Rover. The Ford Motor Company also incorporates FordCredit which is the world's largest automotive finance organisation and also Hertz the world's largest car rental company.

FORDSTAR is the e-Learning, instructor led satelite system used for training staff employed by Ford dealers. The system was conceived and developed in America and was first implemented in the USA in 1995. The system was not used in Australia until 1998 after 18 months preperation.

The main purpose of FORDSTAR is to provide training to over 300 dealership networks throughout Australia. This includes dealerships in built up metropolitan areas and also remote rural dealerships. Previously, training would be provided by teams of FORD trainers who would travel to each dealership and conduct face to face information and training sessions. Not only was this wagon train an expensive system, it was slow and did not always reach the entire dealership.

Measuring Return on Investments :

  • Remote dealerships are now able to receive training via the FORDSTAR e-Learning network rather than sending their employees to Ford Head Office. This has greatly reduced training costs. It has also meant that staff are not away from the dealership for long periods of time.
  • FORD Australia has also been able to reduce costs by not sending training staff to remote locations.
  • Programs are now being designed to reach all employees of Ford Australia.
  • Interactive training programs are now delivered to all dealerships throughout Australia almost instantaneously. All dealerships are kept up to date with the latest information.
  • Feedback is received far more quickly than before.
  • Training sessions are evaluated and the results are recorded. This provides information for Ford Australia to greatly improve the quality of training programs.
  • Greatly increased communication between the students and the instructors.

QANTAS College Online :

QANTAS College Online (QCO) is an Internet-based learning system that was launched in 1996. It is one of Australia's first online learning systems.

In September 2001 QANTAS College had grown to include 60 company wide , tutor-facilitated programs to train and educate approximately 5000 registered users representing 20% of QANTAS staff.

Return on Investments :

  • Training budget reduced from 120-130 million per annum to 10-12 million per year.
  • Greater controls over course content and evaluation.
  • Training staff are now redeployed as consultants throughout the organisation.
  • 78% of QCO courses are being completed during the staff's own time and not corporate time. This creates a more productive work force.

People have now accepted that e-Learning is a viable stategy within the business and it's taken us nearly 5 years to get there.

Summary :

When you compare both FORD and QANTAS you can see that both e-Learning strategies have made real savings for each company. There are measurable Return On Investments. eg. The QANTAS training budget was reduced from 120-130 Million per year to just 10-12 million. This is an incredibile saving.

There are also non-measurable Return On Investments that are very difficult to put a real value on. Eg. At QANTAS as more and more employees started to completed online courses, increased competition and motivation developed. In my opinion this is a positive influence to the work place culture.