Manila, August 8, 2003 (STAR) By Arlene K. Yap-Tan  - Although e-learning has only been around for three years in the Philippines, it has had its share of fictional beliefs. These myths are probably some of the main reasons why some organizations still fear implementing e-learning.

Let us categorize these facts and fictions and examine the nature of each:

Fiction 1: E-learning, being a technological advancement, is expensive.

When people think of technology – simple or complicated – the first thing that comes to mind is "Uh oh, expensive!" This misunderstanding especially applies to 80 percent of the population who are not technical experts.

Fact 1: Yapster e-learning has dealt with our fair share of this misconception. More often than not, potential customers close their doors right away to first meetings because of this myth. On the other hand, those that do entertain the thought of implementing e-learning are frequently surprised that e-learning is actually affordable. In some cases, it is more cost-effective than implementing other forms of learning. For the record, the most inexpensive implementation we did was for P100 per student for the Basic IT package (which includes Introduction to and History of PC, Windows, Saving and Printing Files, MS Word, MS Excel, MS PowerPoint, MS Access, Introduction to the Internet and E-mail).

Fiction 2: E-learning entails major organizational changes.

Especially for companies, a lot of them feel that implementing e-learning means changing the whole training manual and having to start from scratch. It is also feared that the HR/training group’s workload expands exponentially.

Fact 2: Companies need to understand that e-learning is a way to enhance training within the organization. This means a positive but minor change. The only change that we found from working with clients is the delivery medium. Instead of using classroom and instructor as training instruments, we now use, maximize and incorporate technology into the picture. Other than that, everything remains the same, i.e. training manuals, procedures, HR policies, etc.

Another concept that companies also need to keep in mind is that technology allows people to do their jobs better, quicker and more efficiently. Take, for example, e-mail. If we still relied on snail mail, we would not be able to take advantage of e-mail to deliver news, communicate with suppliers/buyers abroad or execute a pending job decision swiftly. In e-learning, a user-friendly tracking program – similar to how e-mail works – within the e-learning system allows for real-time recording and tracking of learner progress from start to finish. With just literally one click of a button, the HR/training group will already have complete data of each employee’s learning path.

Fiction 3: E-learning will replace teachers/trainors.

Possibly partly attributed to Terminator3, there is a constant fear that machines and, of course, technology will ultimately replace humans. Specifically in e-learning, the fear is that teachers and trainors will lose their jobs to technology.

Fact 3: The fact is e-learning will never replace humans. First, there is always the need for human interaction as this promotes social nurturing among us. Second, humans create machines; it is the classic "chicken and egg" question. But in this case, humans came first so machines can never be more superior to humans. In fact, in schools that Yapster e-learning have partnered with, teachers, through e-learning, become more attuned to their students’ learning growth. As e-learning already supplies the content, lesson plan and exams, teachers will have more time to do what they do best – teach and administer one-on-one sessions with each student. This allows for a more personalized path for each student to fully maximize technology and their teacher/s’ time.

Fiction 4: E-learning is only for IT-savvy people.

E-learning only applies to those who have studied computer science or people fortunate enough to be gifted with such IT skill.

Fact 4: E-learning is for anyone who has an open heart and open mind to learn. In 2000, Yapster e-Learning did an informal study where we requested three individuals to come in and test the viability of e-learning. At that time, e-learning was still a novel idea. The individuals’ demographics represented the three general groups of people that exist today: IT-savvy, everyday computer users, technophobes. Those three individuals were employed by the same company – the IT-savvy was in his mid-20s with a Computer Science degree; the everyday computer user was in her mid-30s employed as a general manager; the technophobe was a 65-year-old lady who had no prior background in computers. Taking the same course with the same amount of access duration, all three attained almost the same overall scores (average scores ranged from 63 to 71 percent). As expected, the 65-year-old technophobe, without any prior knowledge of computers, achieved the highest learning curve in the group. She, together with so many who are both new and used to computers, have harnessed e-learning to further enhance their IT literacy.

Fiction 5: The retention rate of learners is lessened with e-learning.

Fact 5: In studies conducted by organizations such as the US Army, Xerox, Fedex and IBM, e-learning as opposed to classroom training showed a 60 percent faster learning curve and 60 percent higher content retention. This is just the "tip of the iceberg." If you couple e-learning with classroom training, more specifically termed "Blended Learning," the results are even more amazing, according to Lockheed Martin. Blended Learning generates a 30 percent higher accuracy of performance and 41 percent speed of performance in the workplace. This means that after undergoing both e-learning and classroom training, the participants were able to do their jobs 30 percent more accurately and 41 percent faster. Take, for example, a typist moving from using a typewriter to MS Word. The typist takes an e-learning course and then a typing workshop. Immediately, the number of errors from using the typewriter to MS Word decreases in a shorter span of time – she does a 41 percent faster and 30 percent more accurate job of producing documents for the company.

Some people just have an unexplained fear of technology, specifically e-learning. It might be because they do not understand the full capacity and advantage of e-learning or they have misconceptions that were never dispelled. But something as beneficial to companies and schools as e-learning is definitely worth exploring. You might just be surprised that those fictitious beliefs are simply made from people’s negative imaginations.

* * *

Arlene K. Yap-Tan is CEO of Yapster e-Learning Inc., a member of the Yapster e-Conglomerate Inc. You may contact her at arlene.yap@2StudyIT.com.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved