Research is now starting to show positive ROI on E-Learning programs according to a recent report issued by IDC
in Framingham, Massachusetts.
Cushing Anderson, program manager for learning services research at IDC, worked with one of the leading e-learning companies, KnowledgeNet, to determine the impact of prescriptive learning on knowledge transfer as measured by test scores.
"Direct measurement of knowledge transfer to correlate and support bottom-line and top-line measurements has often been tedious and expensive and rarely part of the ROI calculation," states Anderson. "However, the learning industry is beginning to reach a level of maturity where integrated authoring, delivery, and management technologies can be combined with the latest in instructional design principles to achieve effective and measurable knowledge transfer."
The study examined courses that were provided to nearly 12,000 employees and affiliates during a 6-month period and which required an 80% passing score by the technology manufacturer involved.
Of these, nearly 4,000 learners completed a voluntary pre-test, providing them with a personalized learning path focused on areas of individual weakness. Tailored e-learning experiences resulted in scores increases from approximately 54% to 89% for all courses. Additionally 82% of learners exceeded the passing test score on the first attempt.
According to Anderson, e-learning has been on a strong and steady growth curve for several years, because of recent investments by well-known corporations and an influx of vendors.
The U.S. Army recently signed a multimillion-dollar deal with Redwood City, California-based SmartForce to deliver the hosted MySmartForce e-learning platform to more than 150,000 of its geographically dispersed personnel this year. The deal marks a training strategy to move from computer-based training to e-learning in an effort to leverage interactive and up-to-date IT systems.
The computer-based training is an interactive but static course environment where students can't ask questions or access additional information. In contrast, the e-learning offers a dynamic learning environment where experts in the subject matter readily available to students through e-mail and chat room capabilities.
At Comdex, Cisco CEO John Chambers described e-learning as "the next major killer application." According to estimates from IDC, the worldwide e-learning market will grow from $2.2 billion in 2000 to $18.5 billion by 2005.