By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2001-10-15 Print this article Print

-School Dropouts"> E-School Dropouts

Of course, e-learning has always had the lure of cost savings. But recent events have made any technology that helps avoid travel all the more attractive. Gartner Inc., of Stamford, Conn., projects the global market for e-learning will grow from $2.1 billion this year to $33.6 billion in 2005—about a 100 percent compound annual growth rate.

Asynchronous e-learning has long found its sweet spot with the knowledge-intensive industries where employees were familiar with technology to begin with, experts say. "They dont care if the course is set up to be not terribly engaging. They get the information they need to solve a particular computing problem and move on," said Yegin Chen, an analyst at Eduventures.com Inc., a Boston research company that reports on the education industry.

Its only now, as enterprises are rolling out e-learning to nontechie types, that its shortcomings are being brought to light. "Its often perceived as cold, sometimes less than stimulating, and not very responsive to an individuals questions and learning needs," Chen said.

Other drawbacks to asynchronous e-learning include long implementation times. Behind-the-firewall training solutions on complicated learning management systems, such as those from Docent Inc., of Mountain View, Calif., or Thinq Learning Solutions Inc., of Billerica, Mass., can take up to six months to customize, develop and install, experts say. Simply developing content for self-paced e-learning is the biggest part of the battle. Its creation entails scores of computer programmers, graphic designers and subject matter experts. In comparison, Chen said, skilled instructors can easily transition course material prepared for live classroom use—including slides, overheads, graphics and even notes jotted on blackboards—to live e-learning.

Besides being quicker to deploy, synchronous e-learning can make more efficient use of instructors than traditional classroom training. Gartner reports instructor-led e-learning seminars are appropriate for groups of up to 1,000 students.

Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for eWEEK.com and also serves as editor of the Database topic center. Since 1995, she has also been a Webcast news show anchorperson and a reporter covering the IT industry. She has focused on customer relationship management technology, IT salaries and careers, effects of the H1-B visa on the technology workforce, wireless technology, security, and, most recently, databases and the technologies that touch upon them. Her articles have appeared in eWEEK's print edition, on eWEEK.com, and in the startup IT magazine PC Connection. Prior to becoming a journalist, Vaas experienced an array of eye-opening careers, including driving a cab in Boston, photographing cranky babies in shopping malls, selling cameras, typography and computer training. She stopped a hair short of finishing an M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She earned a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College. She runs two open-mic reading series in Boston and currently keeps bees in her home in Mashpee, Mass.

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