E-learning contract to snip St George training costs

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St George Bank expects big training cost savings after entering into a long-term, multi-million dollar partnership with Click2learn Asia Pacific as part of its enterprise-wide e-Learning implementation.

The bank invested between $2 million and $3 million earlier this year in software licences and associated e-Learning infrastructure, according to St George' corporate performance centre general manager Colin Pitt.

On-line learning systems could in many cases provide staff with the same training for just 20 percent of similar face-to-face training costs, Pitt said. It enabled the bank to train large numbers of staff in "one-twentieth" of the time it took to do with face-to-face trainers.

St George has so far put 250 managers through its internal eMPower Management Development course, and would soon put another 400 through the course.

The bank had first started looking to blend on-line curriculum with its training methodologies two years ago. Following an evaluation process, the company licensed the Click2learn Learn Management platform, and has engaged Click2learn to host the bank's service.

Click2learn joins IBM - which provides the bank with curriculum and content through its relationship with Harvard - as St George's primary eLearning partners.

Pitt did not reveal the specific savings its eLearning systems had produced, but said although the initial $3 million investment was substantial, the on-going costs of the program were small. The bank would be saving "multiple" millions annually on training costs, he said.

"It's an extremely minor cost once you've paid for the licence. After that it's a very inexpensive process," Pitt said.

"Of course, you've got to develop content (for eLearning systems), but you've got to do that anyway (for face-to-face training)," he said.

Pitt said the bank had not tried to substitute its face-to-face learning processes with online learning systems - but had rather "blended" the eLearning systems into the existing St George training methodologies.

"It's about leveraging learning technology and blending it with our existing learning methodologies," Pitt said.

"It's not a substitution for face-to-face. There are some applications that are better suited to online learning than others."

Pitt said the real power of eLearning systems lay in combining it with face-to-face training. Using online systems to give staff initial training prior to face-to-face courses was especially successful.

In the early days of the Click2learn roll-out, Pitt said the eLearning technology had been particularly successful in rolling out "compliance" training, where legislation - such as privacy legislation - requires that staff be trained, and that their certification be catalogues.

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