E-learning for Change in a Large Organization - Identifying Problems And Opportunities In The Implementation Of E-learning
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Taking e-learning into use in the workplace, represents a major challenge for the adopter organization. In practice, many e-learning implementations do not achieve the expected outcomes. While the mainstream literature on workplace e-learning mainly recommends a standardized implementation process, where the same type of implementation approach is used in all parts of the company, this study suggests that at least large, multilevel and complex organizations need to adopt a differentiated implementation process that takes the various organizational units into account. This research focuses on how e-learning can be used as a tool for change. Based on a case study of a large-scale implementation of enterprise-wide e-learning in the largest Norwegian telecommunications company, Telenor, the challenges arising in different work contexts during the different parts of the implementation are explored. In Telenor, e-learning was introduced as a strategic tool to support a massive relocation of more than 6000 employees to a new headquarter, and, in the long run, to build a learning organization. A further aim was to make learning more cost effective and more efficient. To analyze the unfolding implementation process, a socio-cultural perspective is used as an umbrella for the research. This perspective offers a framework for viewing the implementation as a situated and dynamic practice, mediated by physical and intellectual artefacts. The analysis is inspired by Activity Theory, another practice-based approach, which gives the opportunity to view the implementation activities as dynamic processes and non-isolated units within a network of interacting activity systems. Selected aspects of this theory are applied as a conceptual framework in order to understand the problems encountered when implementing e-learning enterprise-wide as well as to enlighten the opportunities for development that emerged in different parts of the company over a period of four years. In addition I draw on the theory of development of work, grounded theory, theory of action, and theories of innovation and strategic staff development. The research identifies the long term factors that contributed to the sustainability of e-learning in different parts of the organization, and recommends that future e-learning implementations focus on: treating e-learning as a complex artefact; establishing specific roles in the implementation process; and, challenges that emerge when e-learning is integrated with work. Most importantly, throughout the dissertation the importance of understanding context is stressed as the key issue for large-scale implementations in heterogeneous organizations. By this I contribute to the workplace e-learning literature.