The global, knowledge-based economy is causing rapid change when it comes to workforce composition and the nature and character of work itself. At the same time, ‘e-learning’ is increasingly positioned as the panacea for workplace learning needs for a transforming workplace and the global, knowledge-based economy (Industry Canada, 2005; Rohrbach, 2007). In this information age of intense political, social, technological, and environmental upheaval, do organizations bear any social responsibility towards their employees when mandating workplace learning from their employees through e-learning? The International Organization for Standardization (ISO, 2007a) specifies four key areas that all organizations need to pay heed to for ‘social responsibility’ to be accomplished: “environment; human rights and labor practices; organizational governance and fair operating practices; and, consumer issues and community involvement/society development” (para. 6). Accordingly, given the criteria of “organizational governance and fair operating practices,” this article argues for e-learning adaptability as a burgeoning social responsibility in the workplace, when thinking about workplace learning, by discussing: (a) the workforce diversity, and other workplace changes, that increasingly challenge the current approaches to e-learning at work; and then, (b) highlights the e-learning adaptability framework (Remtulla, 2007) as one methodology to assess and enable e-learning adaptability to meet this social responsibility for the benefit of a global workforce.
For hundreds of years, American government agencies have collected and provided data and information (such as statutes and regulations, court decisions, votes by Congress, and the records of hearings) for both citizens and government. In fact, American Federal Government has adapted progressive computer and telecommunication technologies both operationally and in policy to harness computing power to improve government performance and enhance citizen access to government and other information services and resources since the development of Internet technology—from the initial steps to establish the Internet in the late 1960s (originally ARPANET) to the establishment of the National Information Infrastructure (NII) and National Performance Review (NPR) initiatives in 1993 (Aldrich, Bertot, & McClure, 2000).
In the early 1990s, city governments began to use e-mail, listserv, and the World Wide Web (WWW or Web) to deliver information and services; and by the end of the 1990s, Web-based services were already an integral and significant part of Electronic Government (e-government) (Ho, 2002). E-government, simply defined as utilizing the Internet and Web for delivering government information and services to citizens, refers to the use by government agencies of IT (such as Wide Area Networks, the Internet, and mobile computing) that have the ability to transform relations with citizens, businesses, and other arms of government (AOEMA, 2006). In essence, e-government could enable citizens to interact and receive services from the federal, state, or local government “24 hours a day,” “7 days a week”; it has taken promising steps to deploy e-government services, but much remains to be done, both in implementing e-government services and in developing new technologies and concepts (AOEMA, 2006). All the government activities essentially arise from a mixture of motives intertwined, principally in the interests of efficiency, information access and provision, and democracy (Hirst & Norton, 1999).
And in the electronic information age, the traditional roles of the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) libraries in selecting, acquiring, organizing, and providing access to and services for government information are more important than ever (Jacobs, Jacobs, & Yeo, 2005).
Key Terms in this Chapter
Culture: The common values and paradigms that individuals share with each other across the various communities and contexts they encounter in the workplace.
Universalizing: To generalize to all people, circumstances, and situations.
Context: The shifting and overlapping political, social, technological, and environmental spaces that individuals occupy in the workplace.
Normalizing: To conform to a standard or widely accepted norm.
Workplace Learning: The skills and competencies that individuals gain knowledge of for work through higher and tertiary education and (re)certification; through workplace learning interventions, both formally organized or informally through coaching and mentoring between coworkers; or by means of other self-directed efforts both inside and outside of the workplace.
E-Learning Adaptability Framework: A multiperspectival framework for assessing e-learning for a global workforce based on a continuum of three perspectives: media, genre, and learning.
Community: The numerous professional, bureaucratic, social, gendered, racial, cultural, and other groups that individuals affiliate and associate with in the workplace.
Homogenizing: To make uniform and constant in function and intention.
Knowledge-Based Economy: “An expression coined to describe trends in advanced economies towards greater dependence on knowledge, information and high skill levels, and the increasing need for ready access to all of these by the business and public sectors” (OECD, 2005, para. 71). Also called knowledge economy .