The Role of Organizational Environmental, and Human Factors in E-Learning Diffusion

The Role of Organizational Environmental, and Human Factors in E-Learning Diffusion

Kholekile L. Gwebu (University of New Hampshire, USA) and Jing Wang (Kent State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-270-1.ch016
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Improvements in technology have led to innovations in training such as Electronic Learning (E-learning). E-learning aims to help organizations in their training initiatives by simplifying the training process and cutting cost. It also attempts to help employees in their learning processes by making learning readily accessible. Unfortunately, the diffusion of this innovation has not been as successful as was initially predicted. In this article we explore the drivers behind the diffusion of e-learning. Apart from the factors investigated by previous research, we believe that one more dimension—human factors—should be taken into account when evaluating the diffusion of a training innovation, since learners are, to a large extent, the central issue of training. In the case of e-learning we believe that motivation plays a key role in the diffusion of e-learning.
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With the rapid improvement in technology and the growing demand for a knowledge- based labor force, the demand for e-learning has grown considerably over the past few years. E-learning has provided organizations and employees with tremendous advantages over traditional training (Li & Lau, 2006). It transcends the limitation of time and space and has been reported to provide companies with time and cost saving benefits in the long run (Li & Lau, 2006; Ong, Lai, & Yishun, 2004; Zhang, 2004). In a recent report, Deloitte and Touche (2002) spell out some of the major advantages of e-learning including: increased volume of training, geographic distribution and reusability of content. E-learning gives organizations the ability to simultaneously train a larger percentage of employees than does traditional classroom-based training as employees can be trained anytime from anywhere. Moreover, it permits large dispersed organizations to train all their employees with homogeneous content. This is extremely useful for organizations that want to ensure that employees gain standardized skills and knowledge. Furthermore, it has the power to bring people together for collaborative learning (Zhang & Nunamaker, 2003).

Along with its unique advantages, the improvements in technology have also facilitated the adoption and implementation of e-learning. The wide accessibility of the internet, increased bandwidth, better delivery platforms, and the growing selection of high-quality e-learning products have all added to the feasibility and attractiveness of e-learning (McCrea, Gay, & Bacon, 2000). The strategic importance of e-learning is real and many companies have been investing heavily in this education sector (Huynh, Umesh, & Valacich, 2003). In fact, 95% of the respondents of an American Society for Training and Development survey conducted in 2003 indicated that they had used some form of e-learning in their organizations (Renée, Barbara, & Eduardo, 2005) . However, many e-learning initiatives are not living up to initial expectations. According to a study done by the Silicon Valley World Internet Center on corporate e-learning (Duggan & Barich, 2001), out of 44 respondents, only 21% indicated a very high level of executive confidence in e-learning; 58% regarded top management confidence as moderate, 15% unknown and 6% as very low. Additionally, a number of studies have suggested that a large number of e-learning initiatives fail (Hamid, 2001). Such findings have spurred research which attempts to identify factors which contribute to the success of e-learning.

One research stream has primarily focused on the effect of technology on the success of e-learning. Researchers have indicated that text-based e-learning systems tend to make learners disengaged and have proposed the use of different multimedia systems in e-learning (Merchant, Kreie, & Cronan, 2001; Zhang, 2004). Prototype systems that are multimedia integrated are also developed and tested to demonstrate the important role of technology in e-learning (Sampson, Karagiannidis, & Cardinali, 2002; Zhang, 2004). Although such studies have improved our understanding of the alignment between different technologies and e-learners, they remain hampered by one major limitation: they adopt a technological deterministic view and postulate direct links between technology and e-learning success. By its very nature, such an approach propagates technological materialism and amplifies technology specifics. Human action, interpretation, and organizational and environmental contexts play little role in this stream of research. Hence, this approach provides relatively little detail about the organizational contexts and human action that shape the observed e-learning outcome. Such a materialistic view diminishes the importance of human agency, organizational structures, and complex social environments and falls short in explaining why identical e-learning technologies succeed in some organizations but fail in others.

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Patricia Ordóñez de Pablos
Table of Contents
Chapter 1
Jakob Lauring, Toke Bjerregaard
This chapter deals with the role of language use and knowledge sharing in the context of international subsidiaries. The chapter analyzes the role... Sample PDF
Knowledge Sharing and Sociality: On the Linguistic Embeddedness of Knowledge Exchange in International Subsidiaries
Chapter 2
Ruth Alas
This chapter analyzes organizational changes and organizational learning in Estonian companies. During the last decades, Estonia has transformed... Sample PDF
Organizational Learning During Changes in Estonian Organization
Chapter 3
Giovanni Schiuma
Today’s global business is characterised by interconnectedness, interdependence, and an increasing level of complexity that force organisations to... Sample PDF
Strategies for Assessing Organisational Knowledge Assets
Chapter 4
Poul Houman Andersen
In order to capture market dividends and stay at par with the competition in the knowledge-based economy, firms must constantly develop their skill... Sample PDF
Division of Interfirm Activities in the Knowledge-Based Economy: The Crucial Role of Knowledge Processors
Chapter 5
Luiz Antonio Joia, Paulo Sérgio da Silva Sanz
Since the early 1990s, research has been conducted in an attempt to establish a viable and reliable manner of measuring the intangible assets, also... Sample PDF
The Conundrum of Valuing a Company's Intellectual Capital: The Role of Taken-for-Granted Indicators
Chapter 6
Tongo Constantine Imafidon
This chapter avers that over the past years, monolithic organizations, as opposed to multicultural organizations, have been created by many top... Sample PDF
The Multicultural Organization: A Historic Organizational Theory for Gaining Competitiveness in Global Business Environment
Chapter 7
Arla Juntunen
This chapter focuses on the challenges of developing a knowledge management platform to support organizational memory and knowledge transfer. The... Sample PDF
Developing a Corporate Memory as a Competitive Advantage in the ICT-Sector
Chapter 8
Corrado lo Storto
This chapter reports the findings of an empirical study whose purpose is to identify the attributes of the organization infrastructure that support... Sample PDF
Learning Organizations or Organizations for Learning? How Small Firms can Learn from Planned and Random Technical Problem-Solving: Implications for Technical Education
Chapter 9
Ernesto Villalba
The present study explores the relationship between the knowledge-enabling environment and the demand of training in 18 small private companies... Sample PDF
Learning at the Core: Knowledge Management as an Employer Strategy for Lifelong Learning
Chapter 10
Dimitris Bibikas, Iraklis Paraskakis, Alexandros G. Psychogios, Ana C. Vasconcelos
The increasing pressure of today’s highly globalised markets has lead organisations to continuously compete for knowledge and innovation. Despite... Sample PDF
An Integrated Knowledge Innovation Process Management Model: The Case of Skandia
Chapter 11
Christian Nielsen, Robin Roslender, Per Nikolaj Bukh
During the last decade, many calls for improving disclosure practices, in relation to intellectual capital and intangibles, have been uttered in the... Sample PDF
Intellectual Capital Reporting: Can a Strategy Perspective Solve Accounting Problems?
Chapter 12
Huei-Chen Hsu
The main points of this chapter are probing for the combination of information technology and virtual work, and how to change the distribution of... Sample PDF
Managing the Information Technology: Knowledge Transfer in Virtual Teams
Chapter 13
Miltiadis D. Lytras, Patricia Ordóñez de Pablos
Multinational companies (MNCs) are facing important challenges within the current economic context. Rapid technological changes, the globalization... Sample PDF
The Building of the Intellectual Capital Statement in Multinationals: Challenges for the Future
Chapter 14
Pedro López Sáez, José Emilio Navas López, Gregorio Martín de Castro
During more than a decade, the literature has provided several intellectual capital models. Nevertheless, empirical evidence is still necessary in... Sample PDF
Intellectual Capital in Knowledge-Intensive Firms: Exploring the Concept and Main Components in Boston's Route 128
Chapter 15
Weiling Ke, Kwok Kee Wei
This chapter uses organizational learning as a lens to study how firms implement the enterprise system. The core research questions are: What are... Sample PDF
Organizations and Learning Process: Its Antecedents and Consequences in Enterprise System Implementation
Chapter 16
Kholekile L. Gwebu, Jing Wang
Improvements in technology have led to innovations in training such as Electronic Learning (E-learning). E-learning aims to help organizations in... Sample PDF
The Role of Organizational Environmental, and Human Factors in E-Learning Diffusion
Chapter 17
Mikel Sorli, Dragan Stokic
Managing of knowledge for innovation in an extended enterprise (EE) environment is a key issue. This in turn requires effective utilization of... Sample PDF
Supporting Innovation Through Knowledge Management in the Extended Enterprise
Chapter 18
Luis Felipe Luna-Reyes
Contemporary organizations face the challenge of growing and advancing in a complex and changing environment (Johannessen, Olaisen, & Olsen, 2001;... Sample PDF
Government Innovation Through Knowledge Management
Chapter 19
Marc Henselewski, Stefan Smolnik, Gerold Riempp
Today’s business environment is characterized by highly transparent markets and global competition. Technology life cycles are decreasing due to the... Sample PDF
A Technology-Focused Framework for Integrating Knowledge Management into Strategic Innovation Management
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