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Do we need management systems?
Bob Little reports on the in-depth discussions on learning management systems, skills management systems and virtual classrooms that took place at the March 2004 meeting of the eLearning Network.
Part 3: Virtual Classrooms
Margaret Flynn, professional services manager with VC producers, Centra Europe, explained that Centra provides an online collaboration tool. This tool serves not only the e-learning market but also the business meetings and marketing sectors. She said: "It's a learning delivery system rather than an LMS but most VCs will have some ability to 'manage' learning - through tracking who has attended each session."
In looking at quantifying the value of a VC, Flynn contrasted factors relating to 'efficiency' (easier to measure) and 'effectiveness' (harder to measure). On the 'efficiency' side, Flynn named the elimination of travel; the ability to produce content faster and cheaper than before, and the global reach of the VC.
However, she commented, you have to be careful with the argument that you can save travel and subsistence costs by using a VC compared with the traditional classroom-based approach - since an accountant might argue that, if you did no training whatsoever, you could save 100 per cent of the training costs!
On the 'effectiveness' side, Flynn suggested that the vale of a VC lies in its revenue productivity; 'expert leverage', that is, giving the learners access to the key experts in a particular field as well as saving these experts having to travel around the world to dispense their expertise; relationship development, and 'critical business process acceleration and improvement'.
Flynn said that Centra focuses on four business critical process:
Flynn provided three examples of ROI from using a VC. These included Wyndham International, which has saved over $1m in travel, subsistence and related telecommunications costs since implementing the Centra VC - making regular savings of some 40 per cent over its previous expenditure on training, and the University of Tenness, which has gained some $2m in revenue through delivering some of its courses via Centra technology and has also saved $250,000 a year through using Centra as opposed to videoconferencing.
Flynn believes that buying a VC is money well spent because:
"Using a VC can bring about a real difference in terms of process improvement, access to experts (expert leverage), relationship leverage and time to market," said Flynn. "The one overriding business case justification for a VC is its cost savings compared with those of the traditional classroom. This is closely followed by the access that VCs give to key subject matter experts."
© 2004 e-Learning Network. Reproduced with permission. Any opinions or views contained in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Training Reference.
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