Academic journal article Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology

The Human Dimension on Distance Learning: A Case Study of a Telecommunications Company

Academic journal article Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology

The Human Dimension on Distance Learning: A Case Study of a Telecommunications Company

Article excerpt

Introduction

The history of administration reveals that the greatest concern for the people in organizations first appeared in the 1930's, in opposition to the mechanistic paradigm of the scientific management and classical theories, which were first advanced by Taylor and Fayol. The research done by Elton Mayo about the productivity of the employees in the Hawthorne demonstrated that people are motivated to work by social and psychological factors and not only by salaries. This was the beginning of the Human Relations (HR) theory in which employees start to be seen as people and the organizations consider them as a fundamental factor in productivity, although the importance of the human aspects was not universally recognized.

At the present, due to the complexity of organizations, a number of organizational studies are appearing that do not yet constitute acknowledged theories, but indeed deserve much attention. What stand out are the researches on Organizational Culture, Apprenticeship, Innovation, and Creativity, among others, with contributions to the Administration from several sciences: Sociology, Psychology, Economics, Pedagogy, Computer Science, and more.

Organizational behavior studies bring up the human matters in organizations. To study the human aspects in the organizations (motivation, change in behavior, desire, symbolism, communication and speech, perception of space and time, leadership, individual singularities, participation and consideration, and learning) permits a greater comprehension of people, their feelings, interactions, and reactions to changes. Thus, the human aspects should be considered in the Human Resources policies so that the employees and the company may both achieve their strategic goals.

Nevertheless, history also reveals that when employees are attempting to upgrade their professional capacities, some organizations have claimed that priority must be given to the objective aspects (costs, logistics, needs assessments, evaluation...) to the detriment of the human aspects. On the other hand, historically, many organizations acknowledged the strategic importance of Training and Development. Therefore, organizations have been investing heavily in the capacity of their employees. The skills and knowledge of latter must be continuously updated so that they may keep up with the speed of change with efficiency.

With this growing need for people qualified, every day there appear new information technologies that can be combined with modern education techniques, thus permitting improvements in human learning and work performance. One option used in company training is Distance Learning (DL). This learning-apprenticeship modality is being applied more and more to increase the capacity of employees.

The utilization of a Distance Learning System presents advantages, such as the access to a greater number of people, the integration of many educative resources, respect for the student's own rhythms of work and learning, continuous updating, and a reduction on educational costs (Niskier, 1999). On the other hand, owing to the fact that it is a recent application system in companies and despite the several studies about its organizational impacts, knowledge about DL systems are still insufficient. Research in general so far has taken in account the mainly technological aspects of DL and, in some situations, the matter of apprenticeship.

This is so in the case of the company investigated, since 1996, it has implemented and consolidated a DL System, which delivers several training programs to their employees. This company in the telecommunications business, where changes are swift and technologies rapidly become obsolete, demonstrates concern in overcoming the barriers of space and time. It is also striving to make the capacity of its employees more flexible in order to maintain its leadership in the market and achieve its goals.

This telecommunications company is a pioneer in this matter with its DL System, which has been acknowledged in the business and academic area. …

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