This is such an interesting cross-section of my work (technical writing, instructional design, and eLearning) and my hobby that I almost didn’t know where to post it. In fact, I may still cross-post.
First, I came across a press release about Diageo Chateau and Estate offering eLearning to train their sales and distributors. What a brilliant use of eLearning! Everyday I see eLearning used where it isn’t appropriate, because it is cheaper and easier for the company but not beneficial to the learners. From an instructional design perspective, not all learning has to be done in the classroom. But not all learning is appropriate online either. I think Diageo have hit the nail squarely on the head.
The DC&E e-Learning solution has a video host that greets the
viewer and gives a virtual tour around the site and offers navigational
tips. The result is a dynamic, personal experience that would be
similar to having a private tutor, complete with pop-up facts, and
extra credit quiz questions.
Further, the program allows the
distributor sales force to review and train themselves from home
computers, 24/7 and on their own schedule. Most important, it allows us
to measure the success of our training through online tracking of
testing modules by distributor.
"Training a large sales force
to be effective at selling our portfolio of wine has always been a
challenge," said Will Smith, Director of Education at DC&E and
creator of the program. "With the speed at which brands are brought to
the market and the depth of our existing portfolio, it became apparent
to us that we needed a whole new approach. Our goal was to create an
online-environment that instantly engages the viewer and makes the
training experience both rewarding and enjoyable."
A mobile sales force is one of the best uses of eLearning methodology. A sales force (or distributors) trained by entertaining and measured learning is even better. As a note, if the training is not engaging, and the information not applied within 30 days, 90% of the information will leave the user’s head. No kidding. This is why it is so important that the learning is measurable and applicable as well.
The press release got me to thinking – wouldn’t an eLearning course on wine for the average consumer be just as useful? A few googles later and I realized I’m not the only one with that idea.
The European Wine Academy (EWA) is offering online programs, although they aren’t aimed at the average consumer. The e-programs include a Professional Certificate and Associate Degrees, with courses including Sommeliership and Hospitality, Wine Tourism, Wine Sales and Retail,
Wine Entrepreneurship, Wine Marketing, Wine Business Management, and
Oenology. The EWA is using a course management system to allow students to work together on global teams, chat, and of course, participate in class discussions and assessments. The part of me that wants to study to be a sommelier is someday is quite intrigued by this.
California State University’s Extended Education program offers classes targeted at the local community. With eLearning, they can now target a larger range of students and are attempting just that with Wine for Beginners. This is your basic how to sniff and swirl class – but it’s online.
I could post for a while on the various Wine eLearning classes offered out there. You can no longer think of distance learning as tv screens or books and tests. Distance learning is interactive and involves web cams, webex computer sharing, interactive presentations, chat rooms and discussion boards. While it does involve self-discipline, it also lets the user learn whenever the time is right, be it noon or midnight. Admittedly I’m a bit of an eLearning evangelist, but the applications, when applied correctly, are neverending.
The entrepreneur in me sees an opportunity here that I’m still turning over in my mind. I’ll keep you posted.
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