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New study suggests rapid e-learning on the rise
August 17, 2004
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Oakland, Calif.--Bersin & Associates, a research and consulting firm solely focused on What Works e-learning research, has released the report, ‘Rapid e-Learning: Market, Tools, Techniques, and Best Practices for Building e-Learning Programs in Weeks.’ Targeted to training executives, training professionals, and tool providers, the 71-page report offers a comprehensive look at this rapidly emerging category, which now accounts for more than one-third of all training-related projects in companies surveyed. The study was sponsored by Macromedia, Trivantis, Articulate, and iLinc. Results are based on a 2004 survey of 228 e-learning developers and in-depth interviews with training executives from Bayer HealthCare, Citigroup, Procter & Gamble, Novell, SAP, and WebMD for the development of the included case studies.

Bersin analysts define rapid e-learning as web-based training programs which can be created in a few weeks and are authored largely by subject-matter-experts. Often based on PowerPoint presentations or other in-house documents, this new, fast-growing, category of online training is best suited for information broadcast and critical knowledge transfer. Examples of such uses include updating field sales and support staff on new products and market changes; educating employees about new corporate practices and policies; and informing customers on product enhancements and features.

"Because of the ubiquitous nature of these needs, the growth of this market niche is far outpacing all other categories of e-learning," says Josh Bersin, President and founder of Bersin & Associates. "We estimate that rapid e-learning is growing at an annual compound rate of 80 percent and forecast that it will comprise approximately 50 percent of the $816 million projected to be spent on e-learning in 2006. Nearly every organization we talk with tells us that between 30 and 50 percent of training needs fall into the rapid e-learning category"

In addition to the market analysis and case studies, the Bersin report includes:

  • A description of the rapid e-learning development process, associated roles, and design tips
  • Checklists for live and self-paced tool selection
  • Overview of 14 rapid e-learning tools.

"We use rapid e-learning to educate field sales and service staff on product enhancements, medical technologies, and safety procedures,” says Grant Cook, Manager of Process Reengineering for the Bayer HealthCare's U.S. commercial organization. “We also use it for prerequisite training before meetings. We've found that regular, short training - using courses that can be taken by employees in less than an hour - is most effective in our culture." Cook's organization, which has developed templates to help subject-matter experts create courses based on PowerPoint presentations, created 19 rapid e-learning courses in the past year.

Bill Martin, also known as "Red Dog," is responsible for Procter & Gamble's Fabric and Homecare Business Unit University. He has seen rapid e-learning drive a significant increase in usage of the unit's virtual university. "We've gone from 1,000 course downloads in 2001 to almost 30,000 by early 2004. We now offer 218 courses, most of which were developed in under three weeks.”

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