E-Learning vs chalk and talk – Where are we now?

July 16, 2013

On Monday evening (8th July 2013) The Society for Computers and Law (SCL) Knowledge Management Committee hosted an event at Pinsent Mason LLP.

The event was discussing e-Learning vs more traditional methods. There was a panel of three speakers: Usha Puri-Dewage our Senior L&D Consultant, giving an overview of e-learning in law firms;
Pip Johnson from Ad Alta Learning Ltd, predicting trends and demonstrating future technologies; and Cathy Mattis from BLP giving her experience of e-learning as a client from her distance learning MBA at Warwick University.

Usha provided a brief overview of the evolution of eLearning since the economic turmoil in 2008, which had a significant impact on learning & training methods. Combined with latest technological developments it has realised more innovative ways to share knowledge and learning. Usha then described the Linklaters journey  of developing and implementing e-learning technologies to improve the offering to Linklaters employees. E-learning has been effective where the topic can be commoditised, such as annual training that does not change and refreshers. The benefits of e-learning technologies was highlighted such as efficiency, flexibility speed and effectiveness.

Usha highlighted and Pip agreed that there is behavioural change of how fee earners and clients want to learn. More traditional methods of learning such as presentations/lectures were not necessarily the desirable method of learning anymore. People want to dip in and out of learning when they have free time, maybe on the train or during quiet periods of the day etc. It was highlighted that just over 7 minutes was the optimum time to learn and e-learning modules could be prepared to meet this.

It was agreed by the panel that e-learning cannot be a singular event and that blended learning using a combination of eLearning, discussion, presentations, social media/forums, etc  are still required to improve understanding. For instance e-learning on its own does not allow the user to raise questions. However in order for learning & knowledge sharing to be effective, it should be part of a series of events.

Pip using her crystal ball envisages that video content for training is going to grow rapidly. Video has becoming the preferred method in law firms for distributing training as it is cheap and effective. Pip predicts that user generated content will become a regular feature when learning online, with users commenting, blogging and using forums to discuss content on e-learning platforms.

There is a trend towards firms starting to use social media as an environment to access learning platforms and promotion. It is expected that social media such as Yammer, which allows private areas to share content, will continue to grow.

Cathy shared her experiences of a lawyer stepping back into education since law school and the differences in teaching methodology. The Warwick MBA that she has undertaken is 99.5% distance learning and Cathy prefers this in order to manage her work commitments, external commitments and completion of the MBA over 2 years.

Towards the end of the session there was a real spark of discussion around CPD, there was much confusion amongst the room as to how CPD could be recorded. With e-learning lasting under an hour did this count towards CPD points? With no real clarity on the matter from Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA) it is something that may be needs to be followed up…