Main menu




As defined by Pollard and Hillage (2001), e-learning is “the provision of learning and support opportunities through computer and network technologies designed to help performance and human development.” E-learning promotes learning by expanding and complementing face-to-face learning rather than replacing it.

The name "e-learning" first appeared in the United States in the mid-1990s, but it began to play a large role only in the late 1990s. Like many HR practices, it was based on earlier developments - computer-assisted vocational training, online vocational training, open or distance learning, and informal e-learning derived from knowledge management methods. The main difference is that e-learning is based primarily on websites, although it may include distributable technology products (mainly CD-ROMs) that do not require the user's computer to be connected to a network.

E-learning is not so much a technology as learning based on technology. However, it is the use of internal networks (intranet) that opens up the maximum opportunities for learning. At its highest, e-learning is a much more comprehensive learning method than previous ones, especially when combined with other learning methods.

There are different types of e-learning:

• self-paced e-learning, where the learner uses the technology, but is not associated with instructors or other learners at the time;

• live e-learning, in which, in addition to using technology, the learner interacts with an instructor located elsewhere;

• Collaborative e-learning, providing learning through the exchange of information and knowledge between learners through discussion forums, practice societies, bulletin boards and chat rooms.


According to Pollard and Hillage (2001), the goal of e-learning is to provide learning "just in time, in the right amount, and just for you." It allows you to learn at the moment of the most urgent need for learning (“just in time”, and not “just in this case”) and when it is most convenient doing it. Learning can be carried out in fragments or chunks that focus on specific learning tasks. It is learner-centric and can be tailored to the needs of the individual - learners can choose from different tasks within the overall package.


E-learning offers learners around the world the most up-to-date information. There is an opportunity for collaboration and exchange of information between students, although most of them work in isolation most of the time.

The main principle of e-learning is “connectivity” – the process by which computers are networked, exchange information and connect people with each other. This is accomplished by what is often referred to as an "e-learning landscape or architecture" shaped by the hardware, software, and connectivity components needed to facilitate learning. When designing such a system, much attention is paid to "functionality" - what each part of it should do.

Here are the main components of the e-learning landscape:

• Learning management system - gives users access to various learning processes and allows the learning process to be carried out at the right pace. Facilitates learning management, including managing class schedules and course publication;

• learning content management system - is an authorized course or program preparation system, a collection of learning objectives and modules (sometimes called a repository) and a means of sending the entire course to a delivery system (sometimes called a delivery interface);

• Learning Portals - Points of access to learning information and services to help students find the material they need.


The e-learning process includes defining the system, encouraging access, advising and assisting individual learners, and encouraging and facilitating the creation of a learning community. E-learning puts the focus on the learner. It offers the means to satisfy human needs for learning. But individual learning can be supplemented by participation in study groups or "interest societies", whose members both acquire knowledge and exchange it.

The emphasis is on learning at their own pace—students are in control of their own pace of learning, although their teachers can set goals and give them directions on how to learn. However, while self-guided learning is encouraged, the outcome of e-learning is greatly influenced by the support provided to learners. Ultimately, it is the effectiveness of this support that decides, not the sophistication of the technology. The quality of the content of the curriculum is important, but it can be improved with the support of teachers and "electronic moderators". The latter, according to Salmon (2001), preside over all study group activities in "knowledge sharing forums", ensuring the exchange of information and presentations of forum participants, providing guidance and making appropriate comments.


E-learning programs may include common business applications and processes, introductory programs, and often information technology skills development. They are not very effective for developing the so-called soft skills of team building, communication or presentation, which rely on interpersonal contacts. But these programs can lay out basic principles that prepare people for face-to-face practice sessions, provide reinforcement through post-event reading, help with self-assessment, and provide chat support.

Programs may consist of generic content purchased from vendors, but most organizations prefer customized modules on websites, either developed in-house or ordered from software firms; these modules offer material structured according to a specific plan. The content must comply with the following pedagogical principles:

  • • students must be stimulated to the learning process;
  • • the program and its content should be most relevant to the case, the presentation method should be interesting; graphics, animation, audio, interactive modeling, scripting, case studies, projects, Q&A sessions and problem solving activities should be used where appropriate – the program should not become a “page turning”;
  • • learners should be encouraged to respond to stimuli and be involved in the learning process;
  • • students should understand their learning goals, work towards them mostly on their own, but get help when needed;
  • • the program should be built as a series of sequential steps and presented in the form of "chunks", or modules, each of which contains a clear goal and a conclusion;
  • • students are required to plan their own learning process (learning at their own pace);
  • • students should evaluate their own progress, but also receive feedback;
  • • Students should be encouraged to reflect on what they have learned, referring to their own experiences.

Program content must be prepared using authorized tools such as Macromedia (Authorware and Flash).


E-learning is provided through websites and intranets; CD-ROMs are also widely used. It is possible to provide learning in the form of online coaching and discussion forums. Content can be presented using PowerPoint, video and audio clips, drag and drop questions, PDF files, links to websites and learner communities.


In a sense, blended e-learning is balanced learning, where a balance must be struck between e-learning, face-to-face learning, and learning in informal groups (teams and communities of interest). An example of a mixed program is shown in fig. 39.1.


E-learning is more accessible and makes it possible to use a wide variety of learning resources in different places around the world. It can speed up the learning process by as much as 50% and focus on the organization's critical learning needs. The cost of learning can be reduced by 2 times by reducing the number of training hours. Here is what Van Dam (2004) writes about this:

E-learning at your own pace can be done at any time, i.e. "Just in time". E-learning can be carried out anywhere - in the office, at home or other places, which eliminates the costs and expenses of moving. The acquisition of skills and knowledge will occur at any pace and in any way, since the learning process is led by the student himself, he is very individualized. Anyone in the organization can engage in e-learning, participate in classes, and share experiences and knowledge.


The main steps in developing e-learning processes are described below.


1. Define (or redefine) human resource development strategy in the context of the organization's business strategy, environment, culture, and technology.

2. Identify the organization's learning needs - what investments need to be made in people to increase the organization's intellectual capital, its stock of knowledge and skills, and hence its organizational capabilities.

3. In the light of the above, assess the strengths and weaknesses of existing employee development measures.


4. Identify the scope of e-learning development. There is also a need to assess the need to expand current capabilities through a blended approach using complementary and mutually reinforcing delivery methods.

5. Identify any areas where e-learning would be particularly helpful; because existing learning needs can be met by both electronic and more traditional means. Find out what specific opportunities the technology offers to expand knowledge. Find out what access employees have two computers.


6. For each aspect of e-learning, please specify the following:

  1. the need for learning;
  2. how e-learning will meet this need;
  3. the learning system to be used;
  4. the content (in the broad sense) that will be offered;
  5. how e-learning will fit in with other forms of learning;
  6. the extent to which the program will take into account the interests of individual or group learning;
  7. Which member of the organization will be responsible for the development and implementation of e-learning.

7. Decide to what extent learning systems, including e-learning content, should be developed in-house or purchased from external providers. In doing so, the following factors should be taken into account:

  1. availability of resources for content development within the organization;
  2. how strongly the training material must be individualized to meet the needs of the organization;
  3. the likelihood of suitable material being available elsewhere;
  4. The relative cost of both options.

8. If you decide on external providers, determine which services you will use (based on recommendations, to the extent possible). In doing so, the following criteria should be followed:

  1. understanding the requirements;
  2. the teaching method used (pedagogical principles and theoretical views from which these methods stem);
  3. the end result associated with these methods and how they are evaluated;
  4. how appropriate the training material is (how it meets the requirements);
  5. Cost.

9. Select and train teachers and electronic moderators.
10. Ensure that facilities and equipment for e-learning (computers, learning centers, etc.) are available. Keep in mind that it may be necessary to guide users as they work in training centers.
11. Prepare a summary of the material.
12. Make sure everyone is aware of the e-learning opportunity, the role they and their managers play in it, and the support they will receive from their instructors and moderators.
13. Ensure that preparation for e-learning is linked to other HR initiatives such as performance management, career planning and knowledge management.
14. Start e-learning; you can start with a pilot scheme in one department or a specific area, such as information technology studies.
15. Monitor and evaluate the quality and impact of e-learning.
All content of the B&Q e-learning system is divided into customized learning modules that focus on the needs of store employees. For example, the showroom module, which is related to the sale of kitchen and bathroom furnishings, uses both audio and video components, with different options for different types of buyers. All modules consist of one byte chunks and allow students to evaluate their progress.

Black & Decker

The Blended Sales Representative Program consists of 16 self-paced e-learning courses, on-the-job training, classroom training, and mentoring.

Prudential Financial

Newcomers who have just joined the company take part in a seven-week Life Center program.
Sixty percent of the program time is self-paced e-learning that makes extensive use of simulations, and 40% is instructor-led in the classroom.


Unilever offers a blended leadership development program that combines online work with classroom and coaching. A tool is used to help build a web community; it begins with a virtual experiential module designed to develop students' thinking and prepare them for dialogue before they begin to study the program face-to-face with a teacher. The program then offers virtual teamwork and encourages participants to engage in learning outside of the program itself. Throughout the program, assignments and projects are widely used. They include individual projects focused on personal development and business improvement, as well as working on a project in a team.