The development and evaluation of distance learning materials for administrative personnel in a multi-national company
There has been substantial research into the role of distance learning in education. Despite the rise in the popularity and practice of this form of learning in business, there has not been a parallel increase in the amount of research carried out in this field. An extensive investigation was conducted into the entire distance learning system of a multi-national company with particular emphasis on the design, implementation and evaluation of the materials. In addition, the performance and attitudes of trainees were examined. The results of a comparative study indicated that trainees using distance learning had significantly higher test scores than trainees using conventional face-to-face training. The influence of the previous distance learning experience, educational background and selected study environment of trainees was investigated. Trainees with previous experience of distance learning were more likely to complete the course and with significantly higher test scores than trainees with no previous experience. The more advanced the educational background of trainees, the greater the likelihood of their completing the course, although there was no significant difference in the test scores achieved. Trainees preferred to use the materials at home and those opting to study in this environment scored significantly higher than those studying in the office, the study room at work or in a combination of environments. The influence of learning styles (Kolb, 1976) was tested. The results indicated that the convergers had the greatest completion rates and scored significantly higher than trainees with the assimilator, accommodator and diverger learning styles. The attitudes of the trainees, supervisors and trainers were examined using questionnaire, interview and discussion techniques. The findings highlighted the potential problems of lack of awareness and low motivation which could prove to be major obstacles to the success of distance learning in business.