|Behind the wild enthusiasm is the
imperative to stay competitive in a fast-changing economy. Gone are the
days of long product cycles, 12-week management courses, and hefty
travel budgets to cover in-person training.
- The winner is often the one who zaps new
information out to the sales force fastest. Rather than fly trainers
to 7,000 dealerships, General Motors University now uses interactive
satellite broadcasts to help salespeople learn the best way to
highlight features on the new Buick. Six months before rolling out a
hot new pickup, GM used the broadcasts to teach mechanics learn how
to repair it; at one point, 1,400 employees around North America
were participating. "If we'd had to send everyone to a
bricks-and-mortar class, we never would have got all of it
done," says GM learning chief Donnee Ramelli.
Pharmaceutical companies like Merck are conducting live, interactive
classes over the Web, allowing sales reps to bone up on the latest
product information at home rather than fly to a conference center.
Intel employees out west can pursue an M.B.A. program designed
exclusively for them via
laptop, without having to take a sabbatical from work or decline
- Recognizing the benefits, Motorola's
admired corporate university already conducts 30 percent of its
training online and aims to deliver half its courses electronically
in the next few years.
- McDonald's trainees will get a taste of
Web-based learning later this year by logging into Hamburger
University and honing such skills as how to assemble a made-to-order
burger or properly place the drink on a tray.
- Circuit City's tutorial on digital camcorders consists of three 20-minute segments. Each contains audio
demonstrations of how to handle customer queries (which cables are
needed to E-mail video?), tests on terminology, and "try its"
that propel trainees back onto the floor to practice what they've
learned. Students with questions can E-mail experts and receive a
response within 24 hours.
- Continuing Medical Education at Detroit Receiving Hospital, embraces Web-based CME,
which has put 150 interactive case studies on the Web so that doctors
inside and outside the hospital can log on and learn about the latest
diagnostic practices or drug therapies. As in conventional morning
rounds, physicians take a virtual patient's history, view the MRIs and
blood smears, make a diagnosis, and suggest treatment. Internist
Lavoisier Cardozo, who oversees mdmorningreport.com, says that working
through all 150 cases has "helped me become more versatile."
recently as five years ago, every new full-time "sales
counselor" would have traveled to the store's Richmond, Va., base
for five days of classroom training. Today, with nearly 600 superstores,
50,000 employees, and a rapidly changing inventory of digital cameras,
high-definition TVs, and other consumer electronics, the training needs
are far more complex–and they're ongoing. So Circuit City executives
spent three intensive days talking about how to create a learning
culture and get the best results, and hooked up with a training company to
design and post customized courses. They thus avoided the common trap of
simply uploading the old text-based lessons onto a new delivery system.
Because the company's core staff is made up of
18-to-30-year-olds with "point-and-click attention spans,"
says Jeff Wells, senior vice president for human resources, courses had
to be short, fun, flexible, interactive, and instantly applicable on the
job. "We were trying to create a direct link between learning and
earning," explains Wells. In the year since the system debuted, the
time needed to educate a new hire has fallen by half, and Circuit City
has pared its training department from 83 people to 13. "Within a
few hours, we reduced the training budget by 50 percent and improved
effectiveness," says Wells. So far, at least, he has seen no
downside. At outlets like the Sterling, Va., store, E-learning has
translated into happier customers–and more sales.
Excerpted from U.S. News
article, "They're online and on the job: Managers and hamburger
flippers are being E-trained at work"