As the newest member of the corporate training division of BIC, you have been asked to investigate and analyze the merits of creating online courses for the company’s employees. The president of your company thinks e learning might be a good employee benefit as well as a terrific way for employees to learn new skills that they can use on the job. You have already done your research. Copy of Notes: NOTES-- RESEARCH Online courses open up new horizons for working adults, who often find it difficult to juggle conventional classes with jobs and families. Adults over 25 now represent nearly half of higher education students; most are employed and want more education to advance their careers. Some experts believe that online learning will never be as good as face-to-face instruction. Online learning requires no commute and is appealing for employees who travel regularly. Enrollment in courses offered online by post-secondary in institutions is expected to increase from 4 million students in 2009 to 7 million students in 2014. E-learning is a cost –effective way to get better-educated employees. More than one-third of the $50 billion spent on employee training every year is spent on e-learning. Examples of Companies using E-Learning At IBM, some 200,000 employees received education or training online last year, and 75 percent of the company’s Highmark Blue Shield for new managers is online. E-Learning cut IBM’s training bill by $350 million last year—mostly because online courses do not require travel. There are no national statistics but a recent report from the Chronicle of Higher Education found that college/universities are seeing dropout rates for e-learners are higher. A recent study of corporate online learners reported that employees want the following things from their online courses: college credit or a certificate; active correspondence with an online facilitator who has frequent virtual office hours; access to 24-hour, seven –days-a-week technical support; and the ability to start a course anytime. Corporate e-learners said that their top reason for dropping a course was lack of time. Many had trouble completing courses from their desktops because of frequent distractions caused by coworkers. Some said they would access courses only through the company’s intranet, so they could not finish their assignments from home. Besides lack of time, corporate e-learners cited the following as e-learning disadvantages: lack of management over-sight, lack of motivation, problems with technology, lack of student support, individual learning preferences, poorly designed courses, substandard/inexperienced instructors. A study by GE Capital found that finishing a corporate online course was dependent on whether managers gave reinforcement on attendance, how important employees were made to feel, and whether employee progress in the course was tracked. Oracle found that interactivity can be a critical success factor for online courses. Company studies showed that only 25 percent of employees finish classes that are strictly self-paced. However, 75 percent finish when given similar assignment and access to tutors through email, phone, or online discussion groups. Company managers must supervise e-learning just as they would any other important initiative. For online learning to work, companies must develop a culture that takes online learning just as seriously as classroom training. For many e-learners, studying at home is optimal. Whenever possible, companies should offer courses through the Internet or provide intranet access at home. Having employees studying on their own time will more than cover any added costs. Corporate e-learning has flared into a $2.3 billion market, making it one of the fastest-growing segments of the education industry.