ILR School

E-Learning and the Workplace

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{Excerpt} Many work arrangements discourage learning. In organizations, classroom instruction is obviously not the most efficient method. However, if e-learning is to justify the publicity that surrounds it, there is a great need to understand its organizational environment and to evolve design principles. E-learning, taken to mean all forms of electronically supported learning and teaching, entered formal higher education in the mid- to late 1990s, riding on the wave of interest in the knowledge economy (and thereafter the learning organization). (This is not to say that the experience has been an unqualified success: early attempts in universities, up to the mid-2000s, miscarried because e-learning ventures somehow failed to appreciate that education is not just a business, students are not mere consumers, and obtaining a degree is not quite the same as shopping online.) Currently, because the delivery of content through electronic information and communications technologies expands the realm of how, where, and when learners can engage, e-learning is also being mooted as a cheap and effective (just-in-time) way to provide private and public sector organizations the every-day learning opportunities they need to improve organizational outcomes. Organizations have a vested interest in attracting, engaging, and retaining talent; but they also need to help personnel perform at the top of their game after they are hired. What is more, because the shelf life of informationis shorter and forces each one to constantly take on new roles, the rules of the game change daily. When it comesto learning, what is good for personnel is good for their organization. Training programs that are well managed can have a measurable effect. (That might be gauged at several levels, namely, reaction and satisfaction, learning results, on-the-job application, business impact, intangible benefits, and return on investment.) Since the need and associated rhetoric of flexible learning has been strongest in adult and continuous education, and explains in large part the attention given to communities and networks of practice,in recent years e-learning at the workplace augurs well.

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Asian Development Bank; ADB; poverty; economic growth; sustainability; development


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Required Publisher Statement: This article was first published by the Asian Development Bank (

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