Sunday, October 9, 2011

E-Learning & M-Learning In The Process Industries-Presenting The Business Case

Executive Summary:

Today’s business depends heavily on employees who are trained in the right skills that they need to run the business. It is not for nothing that an ideal business organization is also called "The Learning Organization". With shortage of staff due to competitive pressures like downsizing and outsourcing, it is highly critical for any business to ensure that all of its employees are trained regularly. This is especially so, for businesses like the process industry (chemical processing, oil & gas production, refining, petrochemical manufacturing, etc) who are heavily involved in engineering and technology, because of the rapid changes and advancements (and equally rapid obsolescence) in technology today. Not just technology changes, but the employees of these businesses have to be regularly trained in safety aspects of plant operations, to ensure safety & environment compliance.

Training employees and other stake-holders in your business regularly is a daunting task if attempted to do with the traditional instructor led training. In this White Paper, we examine the issues involved and see how e-learning can offer a better solution.

The challenge of learning in the traditional way:

In current times, in the process industries, there are several problems and issues related to learning in the traditional way. By traditional way, we mean attending a live class, or training workshop, or information seminar, where the expert teacher or instructor teaches a group of learners on the subject matter.

The problems and issues include the following

• Not all employees can be spared for such training at the same time. The employee has to travel away from the place of work for a full 2-3 days at the minimum.

• Costs of travel and stay, if learners are coming from different locations to study. These costs can be pretty significant if air travel is involved.

• Different employees may have different levels of grasping, hence even after undergoing the same course, each learner’s level of understanding will be different.

• Pressure on Instructor to complete the course in shortest possible time.

• No scope for learners to revise the course concepts or re-take the course again and again, unless the company has a policy of regular refresher training. However, typically this is done only for essential training like mandatory safety training, fire-fighting, etc.

• Learning is a continuous process but instructor led training makes it a one shot event.

Let us see now how this situation can be improved.

The case for e-learning & m-learning:

As can be seen from above, process technology has come a long way but people are still caught up in 18th century techniques to teach 21st century technology. How is this so? The traditional classroom based training, is a product of the industrial revolution of the 18th century. At that time, this kind of teaching was the state of the art. Now with the advent of the internet, broadband connections & excellent software, is teaching using these old methods OK?

Certainly not! 21st century training has to be imparted to learners in 21st century fashion! Not in an obsolete way.

Hence all over the world businesses, big or small, local or global are turning to e-learning & m-learning as a means of imparting effective learning.

What does one mean by e-learning & m-learning.? E-learning can be defined as using computer technology, internet, multimedia & other technology to impart learning. M-learning is similar to e-learning except that, it happens not with a computer or laptop, but with a mobile phone.

Advantages of e-learning & m-learning:

The advantages of e-learning are:

• No need to spare all employees at the same time. The employee can choose time and place of learning.

• It will be self paced and if need be can be run again and again till employee is confidently well versed in the subject.

• No time constraints. Learning can be in bite sized chunks or all at once-totally as per the learner’s need-rather than the instructor’s comfort.

• Large number of courses can be managed through suitable LMS (Learning Management Systems) by a very small number of training administrators. The LMS can also document and log number of courses taken, test scores, time taken, etc for each learner which can provide intelligent data for developing your employee’s skills.

• It results in measurable learning. Due to score tracking, progress tracking and time tracking, the performance of each employee undergoing the training becomes measurable. In earlier days with traditional training, this was typically not done.

• Flexible course deployment---either through stand alone CD ROMs, Internet or a company wide Intranet. Hence no travel and stay expenses, which can be a substantial cost today.

Geography is history. Learning can be anywhere, anytime at your convenience.

An e-learning solution can be either off the shelf courses, or a custom designed course.

Off the shelf courses:

You can find several excellently designed off-the-shelf courses in several topic areas .For process industries, these include e-learning courses on Hazardous Area Instrumentation, RFID technology and Gas Monitors from Abhisam Software. To know more about these please visit

Custom Designed courses:

A custom designed course has to be designed keeping in mind the audience, goals of the course, time allotted to the course and testing requirements. You should ensure that a custom designed course provider can provide to you all these resources at competitive costs. Often custom designed courses tend to be very very expensive. For most standard topics you can safely assume that the standard off the shelf e-learning course is good enough.

Use the right teaching tools in the course:

Your off the shelf course provider should have produced the course not merely as a bunch of pages stuck together electronically but an integrated course consisting of text, flash based animations, graphics, photos, videos, exercises & simulations. It should also have a glossary & an assessment test. For example e-learning courses made by Abhisam Software have all of these features. Also the arrangement of the course material should have a logical progression, starting from basic concepts going to more advanced topics.

Going beyond traditional courses-Electronic Learning Manuals ( Not just e-books):

One should think of going beyond just traditional courses and putting all of your company’s user manuals, procedures, maintenance manuals and installation guides into e-learning modules. This is especially useful for companies who sell capital equipment and need to train their customers thoroughly. Instead of supplying a staid user manual (with perhaps a three day course thrown in for good measure) it would be a better option to convert all this knowledge into an e- learning module which can then be used teach everybody who needs to know it anytime. Say, your company makes an oil fired heater and needs to train the customers in its operation. What better way to train than do it through an e-learning course which through the right combination of text matter, graphics, animation and sound can create quite a lasting impact. This kind of audio-visual training has better retention amongst plant operators than going though a dull manual.

( Please note that we are not talking here of e-books or e-manuals, which are nothing but soft copies of the same dull manuals! )

These kind of modules can be hosted on the company’s website and used to impart very effective training to even faraway customers in a cost effective manner. Does your e-learning service provider have this kind of service?


Ideally courses which are organization-specific should be able to be deployed immediately in a cost effective manner.

The easiest way to do this is to buy the course from a service provider who does not ask you to install any specialized or expensive software. You should be able to take the course directly by using your PC or laptop & logging in to the course provider’s site via a web browser like Internet Explorer. All of Abhisam Software’s online courses are hosted online by Abhisam Software & its business partners and are available to you instantly by just visiting the course pages. No special software is needed. Thus you can get trained on subjects like Hazardous Area Instrumentation, Gas Monitors or RFID almost immediately.

If you do have a Learning Management System (LMS for short) already installed in your company then your e-learning course provider must be able to give you courses that are compatible with your LMS. Most LMS these days conform to the SCORM or AICC standards and so the courses must also follow these standards. All of Abhisam Software’s e-learning courses are also available in SCORM or AICC compatible formats.


e-learning is a technology whose time has arrived and companies, especially those in the Process Industries now have compelling reasons to adopt it, which was not the case a few years back.

If you are not considering e-learning for your organization, then you are losing an excellent opportunity to sharpen skills, increase productivity and thus increase the general skill level of your organization, at a fraction of the cost of traditional learning.

If you are unsure about how e-learning can help your company or organization, don’t hesitate. Contact us now and get a free no obligation consultation.

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