Exploring organizational transfer in self-directed, self-selected elearning courses

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Garcia, Anjelica Wright, Ed.D., UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, 2011, 138 pages; 3487902 Abstract:  Self-directed elearning courses have been implemented at a rapid rate by many organizations and are perceived as having many organizational advantages such as cost savings, wide dissemination, and maximum availability to learners in the organization, and learner advantages, such as breadth and choice of learning opportunities. Management employees in a large transportation company were surveyed to assess their perceptions of transfer from self-directed elearning courses. This case showed that only 19% of management employees who have access utilized the elearning platform. Of that, only 1% of the IT courses and 3% of management courses were accessed by 50 or more people, or approximately 1% of the population who had access to them.  However, amongst those taking advantage of the program and responding, 62% reported using the knowledge and skills presented in the course in their current job. Several motivation variables showed significant positive correlations with perceived transfer with the exceptions of supervisory suggestion and required assignment. Demographic variables did not play a role in transfer of training with the exception of those that had time devoted to learning and training, who reported greater transfer. Among those who did indicate transfer, approximately 31% of the course content was applied in the current job although 24% of the respondents in this group could not identify a single course objective utilized. Among those who did not transfer, 82% indicated they did not need to use the knowledge and skills within six months of taking the course and 69% indicated that the primary reason for engaging in the course was that it was assigned as a requirement. Responses were also sub-grouped by those who completed and did not complete courses, management and information technology course participants, and participants of courses identified as central to the organization. Among these sub-groups, few significant differences from the general population were found, although IT participants who did not transfer placed were more likely to blame utility value and management participants who did not transfer were more likely to blame organizational climate variables. Using a theoretical lens of transfer and self-directed learning theory, this study provides evidence for the hypothesis that participation in self-directed elearning courses may help educate the employee population and, thus, contribute to the bottom line of the organization. However, hurdles have also been identified and organizations should be aware that some choices, actions, or lack of actions may make self-directed elearning courses less useful.  
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