GoogleTranslate Service

Barriers to elearning in Small and Medium Enterprises

March 9th, 2011 by Graham Attwell

I have been doing some thinking recently on the use of technology for learning in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). Or rather the lack of it. Some six or seven years ago we did a project on this finding that although there was much use of technology for informal learning, there was very little awareness, take up or implementation of elearning systems in SMEs (the book of the project is available on our publications page).
Since then there has been considerable public expenditure in Europe encouraging the enhanced use of technology for learning. Small and Medium Enterprises are seen as a key sector for creating employment and for innovation. Training and Continuing Professional Development are critical to innovation and the growth of SMEs. SMEs do not provide sufficient training because they cannot spare the time for staff to attend external training programmes and because internal training is too expensive. Therefore use elearning – so goes the logic. But the logic is clearly flawed. SMEs have not rushed to embrace the possibilities of elearning, despite pubic subventions. So what are the barriers and constraints. The following list is based on a series of meetings and consultation albeit in the somewhat specialist field of careers guidance, which, in England, is organised through private careers companies under contracts with local and national government. Indeed, one of the problems, I think, is that we have tended to treat SMEs as a homogeneous entity, whilst, in reality, the possibilities and approach in different sectors varies greatly and there is also big differences between an SME of 250 workers (the EU says an SME is any organisation employing less than 300 staff) and small enterprises with say 8 or ten staff.

  1. Lack of resources. Lack of formal based learning courses or resources. Most training programmes and Continuing Professional Development opportunities are face to face. This may reflect culture, lack of awareness of potential of e-learning and lack of technically proficient specialists to develop e-learning resources, plus of course the cost of producing high quality learning materials.
  2. Poor infrastructure. Many careers companies have a poor network infrastructure and are using out of date computers with even more out of date web browsers etc. Furthermore many of companies have set up heavy firewalls preventing access to social networking sites.
  3. Lack of competence or confidence in use of computers by some careers advisers. May be some reluctance by staff to become involved in elearning.
  4. Lack of awareness by senior managers and staff development officers of potential of elearning. Lack of local champions for change
  5. Despite all these problems and barriers, most careers advisers use computers as part of their everyday job. There are requirements to use networked systems for record keeping. In addition many use the computers for informal learning and especially for browsing for resources, also using the computer in direct work with clients. However such activity is not viewed by managers as ‘learning’ neither is it accredited.
  6. Lack of time. It is difficult to persuade managers to provide time for informal (or formal) online learning, especially given present financial climate. Many do appear to use computer for work purposes at home and in their own time.
  7. Cost. Many online resources are expensive and at present careers services are under heavy financial pressure. Is also worth noting that practices of companies in paying for online access by say mobile phone varies greatly. Staff may be unwilling to use mobile devices if are expected to pay themselves.
  8. Confidentiality. Much of the work is confidential. This may mitigate against the use of open social software networks.
  9. Organisational structures. Careers companies have to bid for contracts and may be unwilling to share learning opportunities or resources with other companies who may be perceived as competitors.
  10. Lack of functionality to share informal learning. Are only limited networks and community applications for sharing learning. there are some signs this may be changing but most learning is hared and disseminated face to face or by email.
  11. Much of the work of careers advisers take place outside the office. Access to resources including internet may be limited.

These barriers could be categorised as social, pedagogical, organsiational and technological. In reality the different categories probably reinforce each other and overlap. But each area needs to be addressed if progress is to be made.

I would be interested in other opinions as to barriers in developing elearning in SMEs – in this or other sectors

Please follow and like us:

One Response to “Barriers to elearning in Small and Medium Enterprises”

  1. Don Presant says:

    Our approach is to work through regional and national sector councils for collective solutions, such as common frameowrks and learning networks. It’s not perfect, but can work.

  • Search

    Social Media

    News Bites

    Cyborg patented?

    Forbes reports that Microsoft has obtained a patent for a “conversational chatbot of a specific person” created from images, recordings, participation in social networks, emails, letters, etc., coupled with the possible generation of a 2D or 3D model of the person.

    Please follow and like us:

    Racial bias in algorithms

    From the UK Open Data Institute’s Week in Data newsletter

    This week, Twitter apologised for racial bias within its image-cropping algorithm. The feature is designed to automatically crop images to highlight focal points – including faces. But, Twitter users discovered that, in practice, white faces were focused on, and black faces were cropped out. And, Twitter isn’t the only platform struggling with its algorithm – YouTube has also announced plans to bring back higher levels of human moderation for removing content, after its AI-centred approach resulted in over-censorship, with videos being removed at far higher rates than with human moderators.

    Please follow and like us:

    Gap between rich and poor university students widest for 12 years

    Via The Canary.

    The gap between poor students and their more affluent peers attending university has widened to its largest point for 12 years, according to data published by the Department for Education (DfE).

    Better-off pupils are significantly more likely to go to university than their more disadvantaged peers. And the gap between the two groups – 18.8 percentage points – is the widest it’s been since 2006/07.

    The latest statistics show that 26.3% of pupils eligible for FSMs went on to university in 2018/19, compared with 45.1% of those who did not receive free meals. Only 12.7% of white British males who were eligible for FSMs went to university by the age of 19. The progression rate has fallen slightly for the first time since 2011/12, according to the DfE analysis.

    Please follow and like us:

    Quality Training

    From Raconteur. A recent report by global learning consultancy Kineo examined the learning intentions of 8,000 employees across 13 different industries. It found a huge gap between the quality of training offered and the needs of employees. Of those surveyed, 85 per cent said they , with only 16 per cent of employees finding the learning programmes offered by their employers effective.

    Please follow and like us:

    Other Pontydysgu Spaces

    • Pontydysgu on the Web

      Our Wikispace for teaching and learning
      Sounds of the Bazaar Radio LIVE
      Join our Sounds of the Bazaar Facebook goup. Just click on the logo above.

      We will be at Online Educa Berlin 2015. See the info above. The stream URL to play in your application is Stream URL or go to our new stream webpage here SoB Stream Page.

      Please follow and like us:
  • Twitter

  • Recent Posts

  • Archives

  • Meta

  • Categories