Using E-learning

Welcome to the post-hype era of e-learning. In the hyper-hyped phase of e-learning’s evolution, organizations developed and deployed e-learning because that was the thing to do. Some projects succeeded but many did not. Claims of 1000+% return on investment were common but seldom verified by any standard accounting principles. Training, and e-learning in particular, was a world unto itself.

Fast forward to now. Organizations are still intensely interested in e-learning. But to justify the investments in e-learning, they are demanding projects manifestly aligned to high-level and bottom-line corporate objectives and holding these projects fully accountable for achieving promised results. Now that we have gotten real, how do we use e-learning? This book tells how.

What is this book about?

Using E-Learning explains how to use e-learning for corporate purposes, not as an end in itself. With this book you can develop a comprehensive, concrete, and specific strategy for using e-learning in your organization.

This book assumes that the organization has decided to use e-learning and is now interested in how to do so in an effective, efficient, and financially responsible way.

It goes beyond deciding whether to use e-learning. It will guide you in deciding what types of e-learning to use, how much e-learning to implement, how to mix e-learning with other forms of learning and electronic media, and how to implement e-learning projects to accomplish precisely targeted organizational objectives.

Some of the issues discussed here apply at the level of the training department. Others apply at the level of the organization. Some will be ideas you can implement directly. Others will require sharing visions, building alliances, and relentless experimentation.

Who should read it?

This book is for anyone who wants to use e-learning wisely. It is for those who will be implementing e-learning in an organization. The reader may be a manager of a training department, a senior staffer charged with leading an e-learning project, a chief learning officer, or even the chief executive officer.

For the corporate training leader, this book tells how to use e-learning to strategically reposition training functions so they clearly and strongly support corporate goals. It details how to execute the traditional goals of training quicker, less expensively, and for more people in the organization.

For the corporate executive, it tells how to use e-learning to further organizational goals, such as increasing profits, smoothing operations, recruiting and retaining talent, and getting to market quicker. If the executives of your organization need to know how e-learning fits into corporate strategies, send them copies of this book.

It is for anyone who wants training to take a leadership role in the movement to a knowledge society.

How is this book different?

With this book, “some assembly is required.” E-learning does not work well when used by rote. Effective use of e-learning requires combining its techniques and technologies in ways that fulfill your goals for your unique situation.

Instead of clear-cut, simplistic advice, much of this book consists of checklists of possibilities to consider, ideas to ponder, and practices to avoid. For many crucial issues you will find a brief explanation of the issue and pointers to resources to help you conduct the research necessary to make a decision appropriate for you and your organization.

You will find lots of small economic analyses showing the economic consequences of implementing e-learning solutions. We hope you disagree with all of them. By doing so, you will go to the book’s Web site ( and download the spreadsheet containing these analyses so you can do your own analyses. Don’t forget to send your improvements back to the author (

Each chapter ends with a section titled “Your Turn,” which gives you an opportunity to apply what you have just read. You can write your answers right in the book or download a blank copy of the activity from the book’s Web site ( By completing these activities, you will build a clear plan for using e-learning to accomplish the goals of your organization.

William Horton
September 2001

E-learning design specialists