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Issue E-learning in companies
Outline [HSh:] We are working now with the Scandinavian insurance company Scandia. They moved away from the standardised products were people were led by instructions. They have a lot of non-academic staff. E-learning was fine for instruction purposes where people had to learn about management in insurance or calculation of costs. Now the market for financing and insurance has become much more turbulant. In view of this, they are moving over to what they say is much more 'leadership by values, team style of working, working closely with customers, identifying new products and services'. What they are looking for, also in partnership with other companies like Volvo and Erikson, is a way to define these shared contexts. They say, instead of knowing the market today our employees much more have to be able to construct the knowledge that they do not yet have for the market of tomorrow. 
This means completely different contexts for learning. In particular, more and more firms see a division of labour in the regional context. Taking the example of Scandia again, they are faced with regional specialisation in clusters and networks. For those clusters to survive and have a business case it is necessary to move beyond using technology for instruction and delivery of information to actually creating and shaping these contexts. This is not so much the e-learning case, it is about digital strategies within the contradiction of using technology for optimisation within the firm, within the value chain, for transforming new business to other types of products and services. And it is in this context that e-learning possibly can fit in.
Debate [HB:] Talking about Scandia: all employees have to be able to construct knowledge. Has there been an evaluation about whether digital solutions are very helpful in that, or not?
[HSh:] In the sense that you think about learning as a design process: where you are in contact with your customer and think about designing a new type of product or service; in that dialogue different types of possibilities come up; this is not transferring knowledge about products which they already have, but it is about constructing a new process or product or service; where you have to deal with those things you do not yet know, in that sense creating knowledge that you do not yet have. And very often you have standard framework technologies that you implement; this implementation strategy may actually create business advantages; so in that sense, in your implementation and learning surrounding you should think much more about knowledge construction. 
Reference More about the evaluation of different initiatives in ICT is set out in the colloquium paper on ' Policy issues surrounding regional knowledge centres' (Shapiro 2001).
Event CEDRA: Brussels Nov 01
Descriptors D-WBL  EP09          V13
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Editor: Sabine Manning  © WIFO