Imagine you're taking an electronic training course and you don't like something you heard. Wouldn't it be great to throw something - say, produce - at the instructor?
It's possible. Of course, the produce - a tomato to show disapproval or an apple if you're pleased - isn't real. It's virtual.
With electronic learning, such things are possible.
Foley & Lardner describes itself as a law firm that leverages technology for clients. About six months ago it began offering online training.
The firm, which is based in Milwaukee, handles human resource and employment law issues for auto suppliers and others. It sets up extranets - networks that connect people inside and outside a company - to keep clients abreast of legal issues.
Such training makes sense to avoid the cost of bringing in a trainer or sending employees off-site for long periods. It also shows how e-learning has grown beyond IT issues.
According to the Commission on Technology and Adult Learning, corporate e-learning was a $1.2 billion market in 2001 and is expected to grow to a $7 billion market by 2003. Numbers specific to the auto industry were not available.
Foley & Lardner can train about 30 employees at a time. Employees access a training Web site where they download PowerPoint presentations.
Meanwhile, a teleconference call is placed to a Foley & Lardner
(foleylardner.com) trainer, who instructs and answer questions. Students can ask questions in person or send e-mails.
That's where the virtual fruit comes in. Ann Mennell, 38, the partner who spearheaded the firm's online training project, says it's a way to keep things lively.
Foley & Lardner's fledgling online training mainly covers filling in new human resources workers on company policies and procedures. The firm plans to expand the training to more topics, such as sexual harassment. it
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