Kirsty Chadwick

Kirsty CHADWICK Students can use tablet computers to visualise difficult concepts, revisit lectures in their own time and augment lessons with videos, interactive widgets and animations

A growing percentage of major retailers, financial service providers and mining companies across South Africa make use of e-learning.

“It has become almost impossible to quantify. Our client base ranges from major international corporations sometimes requiring high-end gamification, to smaller local businesses needing a learning tool to help their employees to understand the necessary content,” Kirsty Chadwick, founder of The Training Room Online, told News24.

The company designs and develops tailor-made e-learning material for the corporate, industrial and private sectors.

“E-learning” refers to any form of learning and teaching that is supported electronically. It could mean using the internet to communicate with a teacher and other students at universities, or it might refer to tailor-made programmes delivered via desktop computers and mobile devices and aided by quizzes, games and video to enhance learning.

According to Chadwick, e-learning has benefited these companies by designing a unique package for each one of them. 

Advantages

She said one of the main advantages of e-learning is no matter their size or scope of business in the long run costs can be cut up to 70%, partly due to the fact that trainers and training material don’t have to be transported to outlying areas. 

“Many organisations in Africa who choose e-learning also benefit from the fact that language, literacy and numeracy gaps are overcome by highly visual e-learning material that makes vital training available to all, irrespective of differing education levels.”

She said it is important to bear in mind that e-learning courseware is designed with specific audiences in mind. 

“A safety course designed for mine workers is unlikely to require the same level of computer literacy as an online university course where students gather virtually on the web and where downloading and sharing multimedia is essential. 

“E-learning products are tailor-made to suit the specific needs of the company and more specifically, the learners. We also have basic computer literacy courses available, which will teach learners anything from turning their computers on, to connecting a printer,” said Chadwick.

Recent research from a US web-based training company certifyme.net indicates that 77% of American corporations use online learning. 

The research also reported that organisations save up to 70% on training costs when they replace classroom-based learning with e-learning. 

Mobile

“It’s no accident that e-learning is a $56.2bn business globally, and is likely to double in size before 2015,” Chadwick said.

According to her some of the major challenges for trainees when it comes to e-learning are that companies may require that training is completed after hours and this could mean that learners don’t have access to computers. 

Chadwick said this potential problem can however, be easily averted because mobile learning is readily available and accessible. 

“E-learning is designed to be as simple and easy to understand as possible, and makes the process of gaining and retaining new knowledge as fast, effective and enjoyable as possible.”

She said e-learning is versatile and used in a multitude of settings, for numerous different purposes. 

In SA, The Training Room Online designs digital training material for use in, among other things, simulations on mines, preparatory e-learning material for the financial services’ regulatory exams, and training in the customer services industry. 

“Other applications which are uniquely suited to e-learning include flight simulation and simulations that train doctors to perform delicate surgeries – a lifesaving use of e-learning that’s fast gaining global popularity.”

E-learning is also growing in popularity in South Africa and it can especially be useful where a lack of resources is a major challenge for a number of reasons.

Chadwick said they are currently looking at different ways to design learner material. 

“We do so through film, animation, learning games or learning mobile applications, depending on which is the best solution for the intended audience.” 

She said there are a lot of techniques that can be used to make the content really interactive and exciting.

This article was first published on News24.com