Friday, 29 February 2008

E-learning reaches out to Soft-Skills students

An article from: Talkibie

- February 19th, 2008
- Haley January Eckels

Businesses have increasingly turned to online training methods in recent years, using technology as a way to better serve the needs of their employees’ professional development. This is especially true for those employees who need help with “hard skills,” such as computer training, operating machinery, or safety standards. Now, HR departments are starting to look to e-learning as a means of teaching “soft skills” or “people skills,” like communication, conflict resolution, management techniques, teamwork, and foreign language. This trend is still in its infancy, and some business are scratching their heads and asking, “Can you really learn people skills online?”

Employers are turning to e-learning to ensure that younger workers are developing the soft skills they need as they take over the work force. Baby boomers are slated to retire soon, and companies are worried that their experience and knowledge will go with them. Younger workers are accustomed to using computers, cell phones, and social networking websites in their everyday activities, and e-learning advocates hope that these two groups can be linked through online mentoring and training programs.

U.S. Bancorp has begun using a software package called Open Mentoring which connects workers across the organization for personalized training and mentoring services. Open Mentoring matches up employees based on demographic and competency information, and helps them connect through phone calls, online chats, and forums. The strategy may help preserve some of the organizational knowledge and memory that would otherwise be lost when experienced employees retire.

Employers are also using e-learning technologies to improve the language skills of their increasingly diverse workforces. Many companies who use an outsourcing employment model or who operate overseas are finding it increasingly important to provide language training to employees at locations all over the world. E-learning tools can help make that experience uniform and ensure the quality of teaching is the same across the company. One leader in this market is GlobalEnglish, which boasts clients such as Reuters, Mitsubishi, Nestle, General Motors, Canon, and Hilton International. They offer customized programs which will allow for specific problems or challenges to be addressed depending on the native language of the employee.

Online training has also come in handy for companies who need to give seminars on ethics or sexual harassment laws. During my tenure at a major publishing company with thousands of employees worldwide, we were required to participate in a web-based sexual harassment course. The 60-minute interactive class included a pretest, videos of real-life scenarios, test questions, and follow-up material that could be printed. Rather than attending a crowded meeting with a frustrated HR rep trying to shout over the chatter of bored employees, we were able to complete the training on our own schedule without the distractions of our immature coworkers.

So how do we know if online training is appropriate or effective for soft skills development? Many organizations are attempting to answer the same question. A number of online training models include follow-up meetings and sessions to allow trainees to interact and test their knowledge. This means that local HR reps have a chance to evaluate the effectiveness of the training, if only on an informal level. Metrics for soft skills learning are hard to define, but many programs use a survey/user satisfaction model to collect data and measure success. However, with the incorporation of more and more Web 2.0 tools into e-learning programs, people skills can indeed be exercised online. Between blogs, WIKI, social networking/bookmarking, and video sharing, employees really are able to communicate and learn in a group setting from the comfort of their cubes.


1 comment:

Shipra said...


Developing soft skill is the need of the time and if any body wants to grow faster, then he.she has to learn soft skills.


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