-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 2005about a 100 percent compound annual growth rate.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 useincluding slides, overheads, graphics and even notes jotted on blackboardsto 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.
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.