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Planning and Implementing Long Distance Learning

Essay by   •  August 4, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  3,707 Words (15 Pages)  •  1,693 Views

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Using LearnLinc/long distance training will decrease the overall cost of new hire and existing employee training as well as increase quality scores of participants. This paper will explain the benefits of using LearnLinc/long distance learning as a way to improve the training program for any business while increasing production and quality of work while cutting costs significantly. It will also explain an implementation of long distance learning at Aetna US Healthcare. There are several case studies that are noted as well as two major corporations that are currently using LearnLinc/long distance learning to conduct their training. This method of training is an excellent alternative to the high costs of standard trainer led classroom training. This is the future of business training and education.

When establishing a distance education program, one of the first things considered is the cost of the system and will it improve the training program. Aetna U.S. Healthcare was looking for a way to increase the quality of their training as well as decrease training costs. Aetna established long distance learning in 1997. LearnLinc caused the accuracy of Aetna's program to increase by 4% and in the process have trained over 4,000 associates in the last 2 years. After initial costs, Aetna has saved 3 million dollars so far. MCI, another company looking to decrease training costs, has delivered over 300 LearnLinc classes and estimates their savings as $1,500 per person or 2.8 million dollars. This results in a 237 percent return on their initial investment in 1 year. These statistics, as well as others to be discussed later, are the main reason companies are choosing long distance learning over more traditional classroom led training by an instructor. The companies that have done statistical analysis of their training programs are reporting savings as much as 5.6 million dollars in a 12-month period. In addition to the cost savings, they are also reporting an increase in production and quality scores while associates are in training on LearnLinc. Aetna has reported an increase in the students learning accuracy to 97%. The increase is a dramatic turnaround from the old way of conducting training. Companies used to send trainers throughout country at tremendous cost to conduct training classes. The travel costs for 1 trainer in 1999 for Prudential was $25,000. Now, using LearnLinc, those costs have been cut to zero.

The design stage begins with determining the training needs of the company and their budget. Since the adoption of modern media for instructional purpose, attempts have been made to measure the effect that a given technology has on student achievement. Early in the history of electronic technologies such as film and radio, educational researchers were driven to demonstrate that these revolutionary devices had a positive impact on learning (Lockee, 1999). From the statistical analysis and case studies done by several organizations, it has been proven that LearnLinc is an effective training tool as well as cost efficient. Most training budgets are roughly 5 percent of the company's total revenue. Training and Development is a 62 billion-dollar industry. Corporate spending on web training hit 600 million in less than 5 years and is expected to increase to 10 billion by 2002. For large companies like Aetna, it's more cost-effective to bring the class to the employees than to get the employees to the class. This is where the benefits of long distance learning are most effective. Aetna is estimating savings of over 3 million dollars in just 18 months. With an annual training budget of 5 million, this is a substantial saving for the training department. The Aetna manager of business process training states "You get to a point with return on investment when you don't even need to track it anymore." With the savings using LearnLinc, Aetna is moving forward to make the program available to its entire customer service department.

Although the costs of offering distance education courses may be high initially, there are high costs associated with offering conventional courses as well. Travel costs, overtime, additional trainers needed to make up for the trainers not available due to traveling and other costs that make up a considerable amount of the training budget. In 1999, there were 25 trainers on the national team that conducted training throughout the 4 National Service Centers for Prudential Healthcare. When Aetna U.S. Healthcare purchased Prudential, 8 of those trainers were sent to Middletown, CT for training on Aetna systems. This training was all conducted using LearnLinc, but for some reason, all the trainers continued to travel to other sites to accomplish this training. This really defeated the benefits of the LearnLinc system. The travel cost associated with this traditional or standard training was in excess of $50,000 for 8 weeks of training. Multiply this over an entire year and the travel costs are astronomical. This is how companies are able to save 3-5 million dollars in just 12 months by using LearnLinc and cutting out travel costs entirely.

What is LearnLinc/long distance learning? Even though distance education is now of interest to educators, it is not a new topic for learning. Its long history began with early correspondence courses, extended education and distance learning. It is only in the past few years, however, that research constructs have been identified to help design programs that better meet the needs of distance education learners (McIssac, M., & Blocher, M., 1998). It is quite simply an instructional delivery system, which connects learners with educational resources and trainers.

It provides educational access to learners not enrolled in educational facilities or institutions as well as connecting businesses and industries together for training purposes. The relatively new concept of distance learning is a process, which uses available resources and will evolve to incorporate emerging technologies. Distance learning combines training and education through electronically mediated instruction including satellite,



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