Why Should You Read This Book?
You should read this book because it quickly gets you on the right path to understanding e-learning. Whether you're a novice or you think that you're already an expert, you'll profit from the understandable answers this book gives to key questions about e-learning.
My own experience is that people are sometimes reluctant to ask the basic questions, and insist on answers that make sense from their particular point of view. But this book really answers the key e-learning questions. And it arranges the material in such a way that you can quickly find the questions and answers you are really interested in.
I'm particularly pleased that Allan Henderson has taken the time from his busy schedule to write this book. We've needed a focused book like this for some time. Over the past five years, Allan has been a pioneer and thought leader for IBM in the e-learning space. Along with his ability to make complex topics understandable, Allan brings a wealth of practical e-learning experience to the table.
I hope you will find this book as engaging and informative as I did when I read it in the draft stages. There's a lot here—but I think you'll find it interesting, informative, and presented in a way that's easy to grasp.
And best of all, I think you will ultimately find that e-learning is in fact a good way to improve the knowledge and skills of your workforce, and thus improve your business.
Director of E-Learning Technology IBM Learning Services
To the Reader...
I've written this book to answer key questions that business managers and trainers ask about using e-learning in their company. It's a survival guide, as the subtitle of the book says.
What's different here is my focus on the "business context" of e-learning.
I'm assuming that you, the reader, are a businessperson (yes, you're in business—even if you are a trainer) who is interested in e-learning to the extent that it can improve your company's business. Otherwise, what's the point? You're accustomed to making business trade-offs, and you recognize that all business tools, even the most wondrous ones promising the most far-reaching benefits, come at some cost.
This book is your invitation to join me in thinking about e-learning as a business tool. As a seasoned businessperson, you already know that businesses don't automatically benefit from just getting one more tool. The benefits come from knowing how to apply various business tools—from knowing that you don't use a screwdriver to hammer a nail. I'd like to see you use e-learning so that you use it to "really make a difference in your business," and that you do it in a way that gets the "most bang for your buck."
How Is This Book Different?
I promise to give you a balanced view here. I'm not trying to sell you anything except the notion that sooner or later—and not too much later—e-learning will become important to your company.
But, there are a more than few pitfalls to watch out for. To put it bluntly , there are lots of ways of doing e-learning ineffectively. That's the last thing you need in your business.
Should You Scan for the "Good Parts"?
Of course you should scan for the good parts. I know how most people read business-oriented books—in a hurry. This book was designed so you can quickly find the information you need and quickly skip over the parts you don't.
I won't feel slighted if you don't read every word here. In fact I don't really care if you start at the beginning, or read from back to front, or just skip around looking for the good parts. But a word of caution. Just because you haven't asked a particular question doesn't mean you shouldn't be asking it. Look at all the questions listed in the table of contents, and consider those that haven't occurred to you yet.
Take what you think is useful. I know that you're a busy person and have lots of other things to attend to.
I can't count the number of people who influenced my thinking about e-learning. I'm grateful to all of them. I'm particularly grateful to all my IBM colleagues in the IBM Learning Services Division who provide a stimulating thought environment that is at the same time tempered with the need for practical business results. I appreciate the support of Don Ross and James Sharpe, my immediate managers at IBM, while I wrote this book. They are e-learning thought leaders in their own right and I hope they each find the time to write their own book on e-learning. I appreciate getting the capsule description of the IBM Basic Blue program, which appears in a modified form in Chapter 1, from Peter Orton in IBM's Management Development Organization. John Malpass and
Melissa Uppelshotten from IBM read some of the early chapter drafts and gave me additional insights and encouragement. I am grateful to Janis Morariu, Steve Rae, Andrew Sadler, James Sharpe, and Elliott Masie, all e-learning thought leaders who were generous with their time and knowledge, the results of which are the thought-leader interviews in Chapter 5. And I owe a debt to Kay McGowan and Philippe Therias from the IBM legal department for their speed in handling the legal review. Needless to say, the views and opinions expressed in this book are my own and are not necessarily shared by the book's publisher or by IBM. Mistakes of commission, omission, and fuzzy thinking in this book are all my own, of course. (I never needed any help making mistakes.)