Making access to training and professional development considerably easier, iEnter is introducing a range of online training courses which include self-paced virtual modules. The courses combine practical and theoretical instruction which can be accessed and paid for online by anyone.
iEnter is an IBM Education Delivery and IBM Sales Partner within the stable of Arrow ECS, an IBM Global Training Provider.
According to iEnter managing director Jan Lewis, traditional training methods face several challenges: overheads are high and attending classes is hard for people working far from the venue, or in full-time employment. “The costs of taking someone out of their job, flying them to Johannesburg and putting them up in a hotel can be prohibitive. The internet bypasses all of that. Accordingly, we have launched several types of online training options to meet different needs,” he says. “In this way, we are allowing Africans across the continent to access the skills they need.”
Globally, e-learning is gaining popularity owing to its ability to reach more people at lower cost, while delivering an unprecedented level of flexibility and convenience. In its May 2013 edition, Elearning! magazine noted that companies are increasing their use of e-learning regardless of size, with 41.7% of global Fortune 500 companies using the technology during 2013.
As far back as 2000, Facts, Figures and Forces Behind e-Learning pointed out that ”With eLearning, students have more control over their learning process and can better understand the material, leading to a 60% faster learning curve, compared to instructor-led training.” And, according to a 2009 study from the USA Department of Education which appeared in the Internet Time Group Report, “Students who took part of their class online performed better, on average, than those taking the same course through traditional face-to-face instruction only. Students who mix online learning with traditional coursework [blended learning] do even better”.
Lewis also points out that IBM itself has drawn attention to the value of leveraging the Internet for training; after rolling out an e-learning programme for managers, the company reported in a 2013 article that participants learned nearly five times more material without increasing time spent training.
iEnter’s online training material is available in three formats, all of which are IBM Authorised. They are:
• Web-based training: typically small courses as introductions or delivering specific content that extends into other courses.
• Self-paced virtual courses: also Web-based, but with exercises and more-product related training.
• Instructor-led online training: students remotely access and participate in a classroom training course and receive the study guides and course exercises online. Students are bound to the instructor’s schedule and can fully interact during the course.
With an online store through which training can be purchased via EFT or credit card, iEnter’s training solutions are easily accessible from anywhere. “We are the only company in Africa which provides an online shop through which anyone can enroll and pay for IBM-approved training. Adding to the convenience for learners, we provide our course material with two options, online and printed, with all exercises taking place on virtual machines available in the cloud,” he says.
Additionally, Lewis says companies can extend the classroom machine rental so that the students have access to training environments even when the courses are completed, allowing for reinforcement or review as and when necessary.
“Through the introduction of a very wide range of IBM coursework, which can be more conveniently accessed that ever before, iEnter is working to make upskilling and professional development fit easily into busy lives, while meeting Africa’s demand for trained people,” he concludes.