You don't need special hardware for elearning - but it helps!

E-Learning and Business Simulations

This page explores the differences and synergies between E-learning and business simulations used to develop business wisdom. (The icon to the left reflects my view how special hadeware can help wirh E-learning delivery.)











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Although business simulations can be regarded as a branch of E-learning, most people see E-learning as a process involving lone trainees interacting with learning software (web, LAN, WAN or computer-based (CD-ROM) and where the emphasis is on content (acquiring knowledge - bottom end of Bloom).

Commonly E-Learning involves learners working at remote sites, at their own pace, at convenient times. E-Learning usually but not uniquely does not involve other learners. (The exceptions are virtual classrooms and digital collaboration but these have limitations.)

I see E-learning as the twentieth century equivalent of the eighteenth century lecture. But, just as the Steam Engine was much more powerful than the horse, E-learning is, potentially, far more effective, efficient and engaging than the lecture. (Iconclastically, I see the lecture as a eighteenth century device because I feel that major swathes of the learning industry has not moved on from that time. I see E-learning as a twentieth century device since it is sufficiently established to be seen as the norm in the twenty-first century - but only if used appropriately).

Business Simulations

I categorise business simulations used for management development and business training as Computer Aided Management Education (CAME) where the purpose is to develop business wisdom - the ability to make the wise decisions that lead to business and personal success. Although they use a computer, this is as an aid and is not a major player (these are the participants and the trainer). So, they differ from E-learning and address significantly different business learning needs.

E-learning, Business Simulation and Business Learning

I see E-learning as a foundation. It provides basic business knowledge such as basic financial, marketing, operations and people theories and definitions. Primarily, it is concerned with knowledge acquisition and not its application.

In contrast, Business Simulation is not good at building basic knowledge. Rather, it provides a way to explore, challenge & use acquired knowledge. It provides controlled and coached experiences, it focuses on developing managerial wisdom (the ability to think through a real-world problem) and provides a way of practicing decision-making.

In other words, E-learning starts the business learning process and business simulations completes it.

E-Learning vs Classroom

A survey of experienced e-learning training professionals [1] in Learning Circuits - ASTD's Online Magazine All About E-Learning identified where on-line (e-learning) is appropriate and where classroom learning is appropriate.

E-learning Content Classroom Content
  • Short, targeted, task-driven, and episodic content
  • Content that needs frequent updating
  • Information delivery
  • Managing the learning process (class schedule, orientation)
  • Performance assessments
  • IT-related topics
  • Longer, broad, and programmatic content
  • Topics that require face-to-face interactions
  • Complex or new topics
  • Business problem solving
  • Expert observation
  • Culture building
  • Networking

In the same article Tony O’Driscoll (IBM Institute for Advanced Learning) says “Classroom situations are best for issue-based discussion. Where conceptual and applied knowledge are being leveraged to solve real or simulated business problems,”

[1] Khitrykh, Ioulia and Eric Nelson, What Works, Learning Circuits - ASTD's Online Magazine All About E-Learning.

© 2002 Jeremy J. S. B. Hall

Most recent update: 08/01/15
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