E-Learning and HRD

Started by Joanna Dourou on
26 Feb 2013 at 11:28


Being engaged to new technologies introduced in organisations today, has brought me one step closer to explore the relevance of HRD with new methods of learning and development, one of them being e-learning, which has a significant contribution on personnel development. Electronic learning or so-called “E-Learning” includes any learning activity supported by information and communication technologies (ICTs). It gains reputation as one of the most cost-effective training methods of our days, since it can be used even from remote or disadvantaged locations and it is adjusted to the learners’ skills, preferred learning style or knowledge needs. E-learning can be considered either as an autonomous or as an interdependent method of learning, alongside the Human Resource Development (HRD) processes and can have a beneficial effect at a broader level, like reduced costs, greater efficiency or effectiveness.

If we want to link e-learning to HRD and examine its strategic outcomes for an organisation, we should take into account that the nature of strategic management has considerably changed nowadays, turning towards a more knowledge-based view, where knowledge of human resources is to be conceived as the most critical contributor of competitive advantage. In this change, performance improvement and competitive advantage sustainability can be succeeded through special knowledge, skills and technological know-how, which make the organizational HRD capability-driven. This is the critical factor, nowadays, that differentiates firms from their rivals. However, during this shift, it becomes much more important for HR professionals to identify the factors influencing HRD to help learners find the potential barriers themselves, whether they are attitudinal, financial or technological. New technologies, Internet and E-learning have significantly altered the competitive structure of organisations, trying to bring benefits to them, by improving its functions, processes, products or practices. For this reason and for reaching the overall organisational targets, HR departments should focus on analysing the possibilities for learning and new methods of learning implementation in the workplace, at all levels -an organisational, group or individual level.

Furthermore, in terms of the connection of Strategic Human Resource Development (SHRD) with organizational learning, it is important for managers and HRD professionals to build a climate of openness, respect and mutual trust so that employees will be willing to access information and get involved with learning activities at all levels of the organization. At the same time e-learning activities ought to be aligned with organisational culture, organisational structure, organisational priorities and learners’ needs. The importance of aligning organizational structure and culture with e-learning activities and the way of their implementation is more than important, considering the fact that work atmosphere can bring barriers to learning, apart from opportunities. Some of the main reasons of unsuccessful e-learning are the lack of personalisation, as well as the lack of collaboration and knowledge exchange between employees. On the other hand, successful e-learning not only engages employees and helps them enhance their existing skills and knowledge, but it also promotes communities of practice (CoP) that are networks of people who share information and knowledge, exchange ideas, co-operate, and learn from one another in both face-to-face and virtual environments. Hence, it becomes apparent that, in order for HR Developers to promote cooperation among employees or enhance their motivation, open dialogues and opportunities to distribute knowledge are definitely crucial requirements to promote e-learning activities and encourage self-development.

Joanna Dourou

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