first_imgThe key to bringing together a blended solution is ensuring all itscomponent parts work well together. Would Bayer’s mix of online learning andface-to-face mentoring succeed?It is not the end of the world if your first experience of e-learningdoesn’t quite go to plan. Hopefully, you emerge from the experience stronger,wiser and more enlightened as to what methods work best for the company. It certainly isn’t holding back global healthcare and chemicals giant Bayer– whose products range from antibiotics to coatings and colourants tobioscience solutions – from committing to a training future where e-learningplays a vital part. Karen Murphy, development consultant, Bayer Business Services, says:”There had been an attempt to use a bespoke e-learning tool to support amajor application, but it was not well received and the product’s functionalitydid not live up to our expectations.” Murphy is one of the people drivingthe company’s latest enterprise-wide learning solution, which combinese-learning with face-to-face and telephone mentoring. Bayer had a compelling reason to give e-learning another chance. Many of itsbusiness units have a high proportion of remotely-based staff – in somedivisions as high as 50 per cent – and Bayer didn’t want a group of individualsto be disadvantaged due to location, working pattern or job function. And therewas another reason: it made good business sense, with Murphy making a soundfinancial case for implementing the e-learning programme from the start. Bayer employees based in the field have a high reliance on technology, beingrequired to use IT systems to produce reports, extract information fromdatabases and customer relationship management programmes, as well ascommunicate with customers and head office. “Process improvementinitiatives are using technology to deliver business results more and morefrequently,” says Murphy. “Business unit directors identified a needto improve PC skills and individual confidence with technology. Without theability to use and exploit technology, people could not continue to deliverresults.” Bayer set out five main criteria for its learning programme, and it had todeliver on all counts for every individual in the workforce: – To identify skills gaps – monitor existing skills and build upon them – Offer flexibility – provide consistent training to office and field staff – Time saving – offer tailored content specific to user requirements – Learning retention – provide a post-course support tool to maximise thebenefits of training and increase knowledge retention – Support and mentor – assist users with the cultural move to e-learning It appointed blended solutions provider Global Knowledge and its certifiedbusiness partner, Trainers IT. Bayer had already worked with the latter on anumber of key IT projects and Trainers IT assessed Bayer’s needs and came upwith a blended learning solution. It is based on Global Knowledge’s trainingproduct SPeLWEB, (self-paced e-learning web) which allows the user to accesse-learning courses through a standard browser. SPeLWEB would be used alongsidea managed mentoring programme by Trainers IT. When accessing technical content,users need a Flash and Windows Media player installed (both of which are free)but SPeLWEB facilitates everything else. Client security Peter McClintock, Global Knowledge sales director for the UK and Irelandexplains: “In Bayer’s case, certain firewall restrictions have caused usto move the content inside the firewall, however, it is still accessed througha standard browser. The main challenges of the job were due to client securityand limited bandwidth. We worked with Bayer to overcome this, and a dedicatedserver was installed on the client’s intranet.” Initially, the courses available were largely technical, but GlobalKnowledge’s portfolio includes training in major systems from manufacturerssuch as Siebel, Lotus, Microsoft and Oracle. Bayer now has a number ofe-learning projects at varying stages, ranging from a small pilot being run ata remote location, to much larger projects where participants have completedcompulsory models and are now working on their elective modules. “Each project team agrees a defined learning path for participants.This reflects the specific skills needed for each job role, and helps focus ondeveloping those skills,” says Murphy. “We have a number of blendede-learning solutions for soft skills, covering areas such as managingperformance, managing recruitment and facilitation skills. Again, some are atpilot and some at completion.” Mentoring is a vital part of the training solution, and Trainers IT providesthis by phone or in person to bring a proactive face-to-face component to thetraining. The assigned mentor meets delegates in the classroom launch session,then contacts each learner by telephone during their first week of going livewith the e-learning. Janie Brown of Trainers IT says: “If necessary, the mentor will talkthem through any lessons or address any technical queries. Depending on the responsein terms of support required by the user, the mentor might call regularly. Forsome users the mentor arranges a face-to-face session, which we consider to bepersonal coaching rather than mentoring.” Mentors are assigned to the helpdesk team so that when a user calls thehelpdesk for support, they can usually talk directly to their mentor. Bayer hopes to train more than 150 people in the UK this year via e-learning– 100 of whom will go through the PC skills blended programme. Murphy explainsthat most will complete their compulsory modules in the first quarter, theirelectives in the second quarter “and the rest of the year is available tothem to explore content of interest to them, regardless of whether it is key totheir job role,” she says. So far, the training programme has received good feedback from learners, whohave said being able to learn flexibly suits them. They also report itsusefulness as a research tool, since they can tap in a question and it willretrieve the answer. Cost-savings also seem to be stacking up, with a saving of 113 per centagainst the classroom rate being achieved so far. “Time-savings have yetto be calculated, but early indications are that they are significant,”says Murphy. “One participant said he had saved about 45 minutes a day bybeing able to automate some of his routine tasks.” Bayer has also speeded up its return on investment by running its trainingas a business, and charging business units for the training. Murphy claims tohave already recouped its outlay by providing internal customers with theblended solution: “Our customers pay for this unique but highlycompetitive solution and we have been able to recoup our investment andreinvest in the development of more blended products. “Our strategy is to offer blended learning solutions whereverappropriate and add value to the development process. Many of our trainingdepartments are offering unique e-learning solutions to the challenges thatface a diverse business operating at country, regional and global levels.”Bayer’s TIPS for e-learning success1. Make the experience feel as familiar as possible, ie,booking onto a programme using your standard booking forms2. Encourage ‘buddy’ studying for those delegates who feel theywill be learning in isolation3. Help delegates to learn in this new way – most of us weretaught in a classroom and learning online is a very different experience In summaryProject pays offBayer’s aim: To create a blended training programme forits workforce, with the initial aim of training 150 people in the UK this yearWhy? A high proportion of its workforce is basedremotely (in some divisions as high as 50 per cent) and Bayer wanted a trainingprogramme that would be inclusive for the entire workforce. Additionally,employees have a high reliance on technology and if they can’t use it properly,it could affect business resultsIs e-learning delivering? Bayer has already seen areturn on investment as it charges internal business units, which haverecognised the high-quality, competitive, blended training programmes. Itclaims a saving of 113 per cent has been made against classroom trainingalready. The right chemistryOn 1 Mar 2003 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Articlelast_img read more

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