Accenture/Andersen Consulting has used some form of distance learning since the 1970s, says the firm’s global head of education, Ian Napier. The internet has been a vehicle for its training “for two-and-a-half to three years”.
The perspective of training within companies like Accenture, and increasingly within corporates, has changed, Napier says. In the early 90s Andersen Consulting courses inculcated basic and advanced — but still general – consulting. The course a consultant took was dependent largely on seniority, “and everyone took the same programme”.
Now Accenture — like many other firms — concentrates on the “point of need”, he says. With individuals taking courses relevant to the particular projects they are scheduled to work on. Online training makes it easier to handle the needs of individuals and small groups and to supply courses at short notice, he says. About 60% of Accenture’s internal courses are still general, but the rest are more specialist and demand-driven.
Corporates and government bodies are moving in a similar direction, Napier says.
Like Kevin Dixon, he says the technology is only part of a successful online training exercise. “You have to do the pedagogy, to understand what the learning outcomes need to be. A lot of dot-com education providers think the technology alone justifies e-learning.”