Expediting Personalized Just-in-Time Training with E-Learning Management Systems

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Contribution to Book

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Encyclopedia of Human Resource Information Systems: Challenges in E-HRM






E-learning may be described as the utilization of technology to support the delivery of education. Although e-learning has been around for a long time, the use of the “e” in front of “learning” began soon after the start of using the “e” in front of other terms such as “commerce,” “business,” and “governance.” More than 25 years ago, training firms began bringing students into training centers and sitting them in front of terminals hooked to boxes equipped with headphones. Training center staff would assist trainees in inserting video disks that included lessons on new products, processes, or programs. Training sessions typically lasted two or three hours or more. This was e-learning in its infancy and it was well-received by students because they could needed training when they wanted it; they no longer had to wait for the next instructor-led class scheduled for months in the future. E-learning also has roots in distance education (DE)—the process of providing education where the instruction and learning are in different physical locations (Kelly, 2000). Historically, distance education first emerged in the form of correspondence courses; materials would be mailed to students who would complete readings, reports, and exams and mail them back to course instructors to be evaluated. Television, videotaping, and satellite broadcasting allowed distance education to expand beyond textbooks and printed materials. Using these technologies, learners could experience a classroom-like environment without physically attending class. However, expensive production environments were required to achieve such learning experiences. Computer-based training (CBT) technologies are other precursors of e-learning. These evolved during the 1980s but because early multimedia development tools were primitive and hardware-dependent, the cost associated with CBT delivery was too high to foster widespread adoption. CBT growth was also limited by the need to physically distribute training new media such as CDs whenever updates to training content were made. Today, intranets and the public Internet make it unnecessary for learners to travel training centers because similar types of learning can be delivered directly to the desktop. Learning can take place 24/7 at locations and times that are most convenient to the learner. Intranets and the Internet provide a low-cost medium for content delivery and a cost-effective course development environment. Streaming video and audio is increasingly used to enliven the training/learning experience. Today’s e-learning technologies also enable trainers to simulate the environment in which learning will be applied and to provide the practice needed to master context-specific skills. Training content is now being personalized to ensure that individual students complete only the learning modules that they need or want. And, the development of systems to manage such learning is now producing world class training program content from mixtures of internal and external expertise.