Evolution Impact of E-Learning on the 21st Century Workforce Term Paper

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E-Learning on the 21st Century Workforce

E-learning refers to learning experiences enabled and delivered by electronic technology, specifically into the workplace and aimed at increasing workers' knowledge and skills (Pantazis 2001).This increase in knowledge and skills upgrade are intended to make workers more productive, help them secure and then keep high-quality jobs, move up in their careers, and contribute to the success of their organizations and the well-being of their families and communities. It is envisioned to revolutionize learning from a traditional institution to an individual concept, replace tedious clock-based work measures and attendance with quality performance and outcome measures and provide customized learning solutions to generic or generalized responses to problems. This kind of learning in the workplace is something that America should now contend with and pursue. An organization's successful e-learning future, in turn, depends partly on the efficiency of the learning effort itself, i.e., how well it reduces the time takes workers to turn out new products and processes. Not only does e-learning open potentially universal access to the best-in-class learning content and to a wide variety of contents, but it also reduces the costs of work-related manpower training and development (Pantazis).

Learning through technology has evolved into many distinct phases but from a basic academic model or root progenitor, the traditional academic mold wherein the lesson was determined by the faculty (Levy 2004). The growth has been marginal from one-way video, such as satellite and broadcast, to interactive and live instruction and from CBT to interactive e-learning and blended learning. In the U.S. And in Europe, online learning has been traditionally and largely viewed as an alternative means in providing knowledge training to the workforce. Some companies and content providers have, however, taken a bolder step farther by offering solutions lying within the context of the immediate needs or problems of the organization. But the opportunity of driving even farther presents itself and suggests that human and digital contents from sources within the organization can be obtained, identified and mixed with external sources in real time to provide the individual's precise need for the moment. In that environment, there will be no formal courses, no traditional or familiar classroom activity and no separate learning experience. Learning will become an integral and inseparable part of the work syndrome and setting. It is a kind of just-in-time learning and will not require the learner or worker to leave his or her workplace or be distracted from his or her particular activity at the moment. It is new, powerful and promises to increase productivity several levels of magnitude over by connecting what workers learn to their actual performance. This incoming model of learning will provide needed knowledge or skills content, already and dynamically assembled on demand or when accessed from a diverse and a rich pool of sources. A combination of interconnected databases can send a highly targeted content to the worker-learner by merely clicking the mouse. The model aims at quality more than quantity performance and, therefore, necessitates efficient filtering to insure success. It is evolving and inevitably replacing the traditional form and mode (Levy).

The current state of online learning in most of the world is an invention but without an innovation, like the first Bibles printed by Gutenberg (Levy 2004). The texts were produced and matched with hand illustration by monks. This was later improved with the addition of lettering by hand. This introduction or invention only marginally improved productivity in the workplace. But when illustrations were done from plates rather than by human hands, the printing press became truly scaleable, as in latent innovation in the printing invention was unleashed and an entirely new genre of literacy emerged (Levy).

This is the new model that stands before us. It does not require a new technology. The only difference is how its users think about it (Levy 2004). It presents itself as a performance support tool that is delivered online and assembled by a user. It is a new way of accessing knowledge and information to busy professionals and the workplace. It is a radical shift from the old academic type of course and grading to an entirely new system that supports the worker's individual need for knowledge. Under the old system, the learner must exert effort to physically or virtually access and acquire the knowledge needed. Under the new system, knowledge comes to the learner and empowers him. He is called a knowledge warrior and the experience is called e-learning (Levy).

E-learning uses a kind of map that organizes job requirements, groups of content and guides to teachers and other knowledgeable individuals under one heading and dynamically creates solutions for them on a highly personalized or customized basis that reflects the language and culture of their respective enterprise or industry (Levy 2004). It enables workers and their organizations to benefit from the intelligence and knowledge already existing within them and to search for new or other knowledge from where they are. Researchers discovered that workers use up as much as 28% of their time just looking for the information need in their work. That knowledge is not only a way to access and acquire the information but also to filter it so that it becomes just what they need at the time it is needed. E-learning features collaborative filtering and smart push that result not only in greater efficiency but also in an unprecedented and un-expected productivity. This new-age type of learning and knowledge revolution in the workplace is predicted to achieve that level of productivity, which parallels that of the industrial revolution over cottage industries (Levy).

The justification for aggressively supporting e-learning is not only economic. E-learning also holds the potential to broaden access to high-quality education and training and, in turn, raise income growth levels (Pantazis 2001). It has also been observed that today's new college graduates are more interested in the empowering themselves to learn or more instinctively want to learn (Henson 2002). This is not the same as training. Learning is an experience or environment, which enables the learner to gain knowledge, access the expertise of mentors or participate in a project. Company loyalty is steadily becoming obsolete. Nowadays, an employee stays in a job because he finds it challenging and meaningful and that he leaves it mostly because of a lack of respect from his immediate superior. This, in turn, derives from the preference shown to younger workers to replace older ones. The situation can be addressed by setting up an environment that enhances learning and development. Such an environment both helps train supervisors and provide the knowledge employees will accept. Rather than acquire new employees after months of rigid and constant training, this kind of environment allows current employees to learn as they use current tools and technology (Henson).

E-learning is in its early years. It is at present accessible through collaborative self-service that uses third-party expertise or content, referred to as knowledge management (Henson 2002). Organizations that will use or support e-learning in the future are estimated to be adaptive virtual setups that will replace rigid organizational structures of the past and the present. Continuous learning and the build-up of skills will remain vital to productivity and professional success or advancement. The bottom line is that people will always seek ways of stretching themselves as far as possible while using their unique assets and capabilities and choosing jobs or projects that can endow them with the best learning experiences and chances to excel (Henson).

For its part, management must recognize that human resources challenges cannot be met without technology and new graduates want to work with companies that have the latest technology (Henson 2002). Most of them leave college, accustomed to the internet in doing their work, research, thesis and case studies and they expect that the companies that will hire them have these tools. Technological development is, thus, in the company's best interest. A Cedar Group study showed that successful organizations are mostly those that use technology in meeting their business goals, promote employee satisfaction and succeed in raising employee contribution to the business partnership. These companies use technology as an investment specifically in facilitating the accomplishment of their objectives. They develop an educated vision whereby they establish cutting-edge solutions, such as pure-internet systems that provide longevity and interoperability with future advancements (Henson). Workers tend to stay with companies that empower them in performing their jobs, and self-service and collaboration fulfill that requirement or goal. Self-service renders human resource and other work-related transactions easily available or accessible 24 hours a day and seven days a week as well as endows them with autonomy and lightens administrative workload. Towers Perrin studies revealed that between half to more than two-thirds of respondent companies interviewed in November 2001 said that they planned to increase investments on human resources. The Cedar 2001 Human Resources Self-Service/Portal Survey said that self-service in 60% of those interviewed realized cost deductions, 50% increase in employee satisfaction and 70% reduction employee turnover. On the other hand,…

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