-2. Janis Morariu
Janis Morariu, Ph.D., is the Principal for Learning Strategy and Design at IBM Learning Services. Janis has over twenty years of experience in maximizing individual and organizational performance through training and performance support strategies and solutions for a wide variety of audiences and industries, ranging from healthcare professionals to international bankers, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and kindergarten through college educational institutions. She received her doctorate in cognitive psychology from the University of Nebraska and an Ed.S. and M.S. in instructional systems technology from Indiana University. She has published over thirty articles and presented at over thirty-five conference sessions in the fields of technology-based training, distributed learning, electronic performance support systems (EPSS), and knowledge management.
Question: What do you see as the impact of e-learning on companies and enterprises?
Janis Morariu: I see the major impact of well-designed e-learning as being on performance and productivity, both for the individual and the organization as a whole. That's really what e-learning is targeting with the right performance-based strategies.
With e-learning, employees will be provided with greater training opportunities that can take them beyond just conceptual and procedural understanding. It can take them into decision-making and problem-solving, and that impacts productivity tremendously.
Question: Do you think the impact is something to look for now, or is it still in the future?
Janis Morariu: I see some of it happening now. But the greater impact is in the future. I don't see very good focus on measurements within corporations that can help quantify the return on investment and the real impact of e-learning on the company.
Most companies today are talking about the impact of e-learning in terms of cost avoidance, not having to send students to class, not having to pay for travel and hotels. Although that cost case is compelling, the real impact is going to come from showing measurable performance improvement and increased productivity.
Question: Do you hear companies asking for e-learning today, or do they consider it only after you suggest it?
Janis Morariu: Companies are definitely asking for e-learning today. They realize that they have to do things differently—some companies have dabbled in computer-based training, and others have had some very bad experiences in their past. When I talk to those companies, I am emphasizing all four tiers of learning—it's not just about moving the self-study computer-based training to the Web. It's really about leveraging technology so we can put people in touch with experts and each other to form powerful teams. In fact, what we're really aiming at is learning communities enabled through the technology.
Companies are asking us about our blended learning strategy because we are proving through our own global implementation and first-hand experience that it works, and that it can make a difference on the bottom line.
Question: Can you tell us about a specific company where you know e-learning has been implemented?
Janis Morariu: One airplane manufacturing company had a particularly hard time with their timeframes and their use of tools to meet production schedules. Our performance consultants were called in to improve the performance and productivity of the engineers. We streamlined processes, and improved the training approach. We showed a strong return on the training investment, with an emphasis on the productivity increases and dramatic reduction in errors and inefficiencies.
Another example is a pharmaceutical company that is using a customized version of the IBM e-learning-based management development curriculum. Their feedback to us is that this program is very well received and is providing a level of training and experience that they have not been able to provide in the past. It's about the flexibility of the e-learning, and the blending of different kinds of e-learning across the IBM 4-Tier Learning Model—from the online reference materials that people start with to the collaboration and teaming, saving the face-to-face training for those tasks and skills that really require it and can justify the cost of bringing people together.
I'm talking with a healthcare/insurance company right now that wants a very sophisticated system that integrates e-learning with knowledge management, with very strong collaborative community tools, so that they can more effectively leverage their "masters," or mentors, worldwide. This company is betting a lot of their business on using e-learning to get teams up to speed, to maintain teams and update skills, and to support these teams with "just-in-time" access to information, training, and experts. So the concept of just-in-time e-learning is very critical to the strategy of this company. Within a year, this company wants to establish e-learning collaboration technologies as an integral part of a much larger solution that includes ongoing workflow and performance support.