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The e-learning age has arrived

23 January 2013

Our appetite for technology and trends in social media are all signs that E-Learning has come of age, says Julian Roberts Charlie Sheen has just been entered in the Guinness World Book of Records for attracting 1,000

Our appetite for technology and trends in social media are all signs that E-Learning has come of age, says Julian Roberts

Charlie Sheen has just been entered in the Guinness World Book of Records for attracting 1,000,000 followers in one day on Twitter. 24 hours of video is uploaded to You Tube every minute. Facebook has over 500,000,000 active users.

People across the world spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook. These types of social media may not be to all of our tastes, but these statistics show that we as consumers are starting to move our social interactions online.

Health and safety training has been available online for over 10 years. When it first appeared on the scene it was viewed as a poor relation to traditional face to face training. However, one of the big advantages of E-Learning has always been its availability 24 hours a day from any location with access to the internet. With the government promising broadband and faster download speeds in every UK home by 2012, the internet is becoming the focus for both business and social interactions.

As the internet matures, so technology in turn develops and evolves to take advantage of the advances that have been made in recent years. The thought of having a Wi-Fi enabled car would have seemed like science fiction a few years ago, but Audi has just launched Wi-Fi as an option on some of its luxury models, including Google maps built into the car.

And, of course, the Apple iPad has had a huge impact with over 3,000,000 units sold in the UK alone providing a true "internet anywhere" experience. Mobile phones are now basically mobile computers with many boasting 1GHz processors which we would have been happy with in our desktop PC five years ago.

For us in the health & safety and training industries, these advances mean that we now have greater access to the people that we want to educate and inform. We are able to push rich meaningful information to them through their internet enabled devices, be it a computer, a phone, a tablet or even their car. This training does not need to be flat and uninteresting, but can be interactive and immersive ensuring that the receiver is engaged in the training and retains the knowledge through an enjoyable training experience.

Embracing change We need to embrace these new technologies and think how they can help us in our day to day lives. For example, combining online employee risk assessments with online training provides both the end user with a meaningful training experience and the business with valuable training data including visibility of workplace risks that may have been difficult to identify previously.

With recent advances in web technology, the creation of online Health and Safety training can now be put in the hands of the customer. Rapid Course Authoring Tools provide a platform to create E-Learning courses from scratch with little or no technical knowledge.

These can then be rolled out to staff using a Learning Management System (LMS).

As with anything that you create, it is much easier to start with a basic course and amend it to suit your own needs rather than with a blank sheet of paper.

Some providers offer a library of courses that can be edited using a Rapid Course Authoring Tool, to suit the needs and policies of your own business.

Of course, all of these new technologies take time to filter down into real life business applications. Does this mean that we will all be doing our training on mobile phones by the end of the year? It is very unlikely. However, E-Learning via the internet has now reached a stage of maturity where it is viewed not only as a viable alternative to traditional training, but as a more efficient, flexible, effective and less costly solution. With Software as a Service (SaaS) now becoming common place in businesses across the globe, online Health and Safety E-Learning has come of age.

Julian Roberts is managing director at EssentialSkillz