Taking E-Learning To The Front Lines - InformationWeek

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Taking E-Learning To The Front Lines

More and more companies are turning to online learning to speed product launches and other time-sensitive developments. At the same time, E-learning activity is being decentralized, shifting from training personnel to product-line managers.

DigitalThink Inc. is taking advantage of and promoting that trend with its E-Briefings product, which targets line managers who need to convey strategic information quickly. DigitalThink says that through E-Briefings it will create and host training within two weeks after receiving audio, graphics, or text content from a company. E-Briefings can also be installed on a customer's training home page.

Company managers can track how well new information is being digested by monitoring results from quizzes that can be built into lessons.

"We don't expect this to be a training-department product," says Josh Bersen, DigitalThink's VP of product management, pointing out that many training departments are already swamped with requests for strategic projects. While training departments may be involved in implementation, business managers will likely be making the acquisition decisions, he says.

Hewlett-Packard enlisted DigitalThink's E-Briefings in September to communicate changes in deployment processes for its Superdome Unix server. CEO Carly Fiorina's mandate for an enhanced "total customer experience" meant that Jim Whitten, an HP program manager, needed to inform 2,000 employees worldwide about changes in Superdome deployment. He initially considered face-to-face training, but the logistics soon became unwieldy.

Unable to line up internal resources for a one-month turnaround on training content, Whitten became a beta user for E-briefings and launched the Superdome training in early September. DigitalThink came through on its promise to deliver training material in a month. "The quick turnaround was huge," he says. Whitten also appreciates the ability to generate usage reports himself--available in HTML format or an Excel spreadsheet. He sends out reports every two weeks to deployment and development managers. "It's part of our business-deployment process," he says. "We can tell whether we're meeting our goals for information distribution."

The price to produce and host an E-Briefings session is $17,500. DigitalThink charges $20 for each registered user, with no fee for the first 100 users. For companies with 1,000 to 5,000 users, the individual fee is $15; for those with more than 5,000 users, the fee drops to $10.

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