Magazine article Training & Development

A Day in the Life of a New E-Training Director

Magazine article Training & Development

A Day in the Life of a New E-Training Director

Article excerpt

5:15 a.m. After tossing and turning all night, I finally drop into deep REM.

5:30 a.m. The clock radio rudely interrupts my rest: "And now Bob Dylan...." In my half-awake state, it's almost impossible to distinguish Dylan's wailing singing from his wailing harmonica.

6:00 a.m. Over my cereal, I have my first e-learning thoughts of the day: Maybe we don't really need a learning management system. Then we could save more than a million bucks. On the other hand, we've already spent several thousand dollars on LMS studies and consultants to help us make our selection, and we convinced senior management that we need an LMS. I guess there's no turning back Besides, we did decide to focus on reaping the benefits of e-learning.

Hello, I'm Ellen. [*] One of my Irish colleagues with a lilting brogue calls me "Ellen the Eloquent E-Learning Leader." I'm not sure whether he's poking fun at my complete immersion in e-learning or he's envious. I have always been attracted to the idea of using computers in learning. It makes sense to me. I have also tried e-learning, and it worked well. But that doesn't mean that it's for everyone.

In the 1980s, I was an instructional designer of CBT programs. In the 1990s, I helped developed several Websites. Nine months ago, our organization asked me to accept the challenge of moving 20,000 employees into an e-learning environment. It has been complicated, confusing, and sometimes frustrating. But I love the challenge. Most days, my sense of humor keeps me going.

8:00 a.m. My email in-box is bursting with e-learning news and other interesting new economy information: Elliott Masie, Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox, Fast Company newsletters, Learning Circuits, Online Learning, and several vendors. They've all sent me their insight into the world of e-learning. College students get a reading week, why not me? One week every two months should do the trick.

8:30 a.m. Piley, as I affectionately call my in-basket, is out of control. One company must have sent 10 conference announcements in the last month--for the same conference! And magazines! New magazines and advertising material seem to germinate like alfalfa sprouts in my in-basket. I wish I had taken a speed-reading course when I had the time, though what would be the advantage of reading faster? I'd simply fill my head with more marketing drivel. Well, that's not completely fair. There is gold in my in-basket; I just have to prospect for it, and that takes time--a commodity in short supply these days.

8:45 a.m. My calendar is wall-to-wall meetings about...you guessed it! It started a year ago when someone let the e-learning genie out of the bottle. What will the next buzz phrase be? W-learning for wireless technology? S-learning for shareable learning objects? Perhaps it will simply be learning as we focus on the real issue of how to prepare people to function in the new economy.

9:30 a.m. I'm meeting with some people about moving forward with e-learning. Flushed faces, piercing stares, and thorny questions give me the sense we're losing the support of the IT group (if we ever had it). The IT people are sitting at the far end of the table. One minute, they seem to prefer an ASP arrangement hosted on the provider's server. The next minute, they seem to be of the opinion that a new in-house server would be the solution. The word bandwidth keeps popping up.

Managers at the meeting are eager to move ahead with e-learning. One figures it will speed up product development and sales cycle by providing her team with just-in-time information about new technologies. She wants to set up a Web-site for a new product and get the information to all team members. The training manager wants to use e-learning to reduce cycle time. It now takes nine months to develop and roll out a new classroom-based course. By putting the material on the Web with streaming video, the learning materials can be developed and distributed in a matter of days. …

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