No longer are the terms "eLearning", "distance learning", "open learning" or "on-line learning" limited to achieving degrees or specific certificates.
What is eLearning?
eLearning now caters to all manner of railway organisations to help get their workforce up to speed quicker and better. Research shows that eLearning IS cost effective in knowledge development as well as within competency development.
Benefits of eLearning
Smarter Knowledge Development
Using eLearning to develop knowledge and comprehension is widely accepted and practised by educators around the globe. But can eLearning really be a smarter alternative to class-based learning? Absolutely! Again, research shows us that current eLearning processes are not the impersonal online experience of old. By utilising computing power, resource-rich learning environments and modern Learning Management Systems, today's eLearning courses can be powerful, focussed and highly engaging.
Better Skills Development
Do I mean learn the skills online to drive a train? No. Or maybe learn the skills online to repair faulty signalling equipment? No. Skill training is best done in a hands-on environment (real or simulated). So how does eLearning make better skills development? Quality rail skills trainers are in desperate shortage around the globe; we can't get enough of them. Yet those that are actively training are required to present and assess theory lessons AND to present and assess skills sessions. Why are we using this most valuable resource for theory training and assessment when eLearning can do the theory part smarter? We should leave this valuable resource to what they can do best – develop the skills and assess the competencies.
Consistent and Available Learning
Many countries are expanding their rail networks and upgrading their older sections. Both of these activities can bring the latest of technologies upon personnel who do not have the necessary skills. The skills shortage dictates that managers will have difficulty in releasing these personnel for training – they're just busy just keeping the network going.
With eLearning, everyone learns the same carefully-structured content which is specifically designed to maximise the learning outcomes. This consistent knowledge level is not normally available with in-class training.
Of course eLearning can make all learning available 24 X 7. There are periods of "downtime" and "off-peak" opportunities where (if a trainer was instantly available) some training could take place. However, with eLearning, the training is always available. In any part of the city, state or country at any time.
Rail industry eLearning
eLearning such as that available through organisations, can develop and assure all the knowledge requirements. When coupled with an on-the-job skills component, this comprehensively leads to competent rail industry personnel.