Learn@dow.now has grown quickly and is now one of the most comprehensive Web-based learning tools around. Current courses range from cost accounting and business ethics to chemistry and hazardous materials handling - each one offered in Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish (with some available in Chinese, Indonesian, Japanese and Thai). Most classes require a post-test to determine if the employee has mastered the subject matter for certification. When an employee finishes a class, a record of completion is automatically transferred to her permanent training file in PeopleSoft 7 HRMS. "It's important to look at how e-learning fits in with a company's global mission," explains Katherine Jones, managing director of enterprise business applications in the Palo Alto, Calif., office of the Aberdeen Group. "Anytime you have that many employees all over the world it's difficult to ensure the quality of education. They've definitely succeeded at that."
Employees appreciate the flexibility, control and convenience Learn@dow.now affords them. "You could move at your own pace," says two-year Dow employee Kellie Rogge, who works in business communications within Dow's Epoxy Products and Intermediates business unit and has taken several required courses and signed up for the popular Six Sigma training class. "And I don't have to spend an entire afternoon in a classroom."
Among the only complaints: Concentration can be tough in the typical work environment. "Sometimes it's hard when you're sitting in a cubicle and there's all this activity around you, but it's pretty user-friendly," says Heather Dudley, who joined Dow as an office professional in the Global Purchasing Marine unit in March 2001 and has taken several optional software courses such as Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint.
For that reason and others, Dow leaders say some classes may never hit the intranet. Course originators conduct an assessment before bringing a class online to determine if Web-based training will be effective. Many classes, such as software training courses, are tailor-made for Internet delivery. Others, such as those on leadership, benefit from the classroom experience. But Dow does offer online pre- and post-assessment testing via Learn@ dow.now for some in-person classes like safe driving, new employee orientation, purchasing and behaviour-based performance. Extra prep or review time provided online helps instructors minimise the amount of time employees spend away from work.
As for the online respect and responsibility class, the value has gone beyond the several million dollars saved by delivering the information through Learn@dow.now. "We demonstrated commitment from the senior leadership to protect our values of respect for people and to take swift and decisive action where those values are compromised," says David Wilkins, Dow's director of global diversity. "And we used the best available technology to design and deliver this important information to our global population."
Join the CIO Australia group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.