The borderline between 1st and 2nd generation e-learning is situated in between dimension 3 and 4. It is wishful thinking to assume that if all is provided for as to concept, technology and content, the end-user will automatically show up on the assumption that ‘if you build it, they will come’. Creating a favourable climate for e-learning requires efforts that are both top-down and bottom-up.
We cannot take for granted that users will find their way to an e-learning course themselves. E-learning is so fundamentally different to most employers and employees that the platform as well as the courses need to be constantly promoted and the participants motivated. We have called this dimension ‘Culture&Attitude’. ‘Culture’ refers to the organisation (top down) and ‘attitude’ to the personal attitude of the learner (bottom up). Hence, it is a learning climate that needs to be created. In that respect it is important to have sponsorship from the highest echelons in the organisation and to create a ‘champions’ community throughout the organization. The latter empower the workforce with e-learning and function as beacons for other learners in the organisation. Changing the organisation into a learning organisation, with active learner-users sharing their life long learning experience in a broad learner’s community is an objective that can be achieved with change management techniques if values and climate fit.
It should be stressed that the implicit expectations as to time and place (distance) play a crucial role. They are not only used as a handy excuse, they often are a real excuse. Therefore, the organisation needs to lower the threshold for e-learning and encourage it by valuing the time spent and reserve the virtual and physical space (e.g. reserving resource centers with tutoring and reference materials). Out of our personal experience, we suggest that an e-learning community finds itself in real encounters as well. A kick-off meeting at the beginning of the course and a wrap-up at the end open the doors to a lasting learning community. Also, a simple ‘busy e-learning’ notice on the door knob should not be mocked at, but rather respected. Changing culture and attitude are processes that take a long time and require constant attention. How do you create a 'language of learning' in your organisation?
Here are a number of features of this dimension: (i) Communication plan: e-learning is still a waste land to many learners. (ii) Sensitising : Who are possible champions? How can e-learning improve efficiency and effectiveness at the personal level? How are e-learning efforts valued by management? (iii) Motivatation: Why do learners drop out? Why do they show a low commitment? An organisation needs to question the reasons and take measures for a favourable climate and well-defined values. (iv) Learning strategies: how does a passive learner become an autonomous and responsible e-learner ?