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The E-workplace And E-learning

The E-workplace And E-learning by Peter Miller
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There can be little argument that the electronic and digital revolution is changing the way people in workplaces behave and interact with each other as they go about their daily work routines. The digital revolution has meant that new words and terms are being introduced into our everyday workplace vocabulary in an attempt to describe succinctly what is occurring. Words and terms like the e-workplace, e-teams, e-commerce, new-economy etc. are defining the way we work in modern organisations. Another term has evolved recently to explain the education and training corollary of the move towards the e-workplace. E-learning (electronic learning) is the term used by some to describe the new forms of learning enabled in workplaces by the electronic revolution. In this themed issue of the Journal, we examine the e-workplace and e-learning from a number of different perspectives.

In the paper from the United States and Singapore, Chan Veng Seng, Estelle Zannes and R. Wayne Pace discuss their experiences with workplace communication and knowledge management in the e-workplace. Their paper is an interesting exploration of the consequences of the present advancements in the e-workplace and they suggest that the cultivation of a climate and culture that supports knowledge sharing and learning may be more important than electronic advancements and other infrastructure changes to workplaces. A number of steps to ensure the greatest advances in workplace learning in the new environment are proposed in the paper. The suggestion that the function of human resource development needs to be re-defined to include knowledge management is provocative, as is their prediction in the growth of CLKMO positions within organisations.

Helen Darch and Trevor Lucas report on an investigation into the barriers to the uptake of e-commerce by small to medium enterprises (SMEs). The findings of the investigation suggest that a lack of knowledge about e-commerce in general and poor technical skills are the major barriers to the implementation of e-commerce systems in SMEs. The conclusion of the research is that traditional training models are inappropriate in the e-workplace, and a new multi-pronged action learning model is suggested to overcome the barriers to advancement A study of the factors that are likely to be important for the effective implementation of online learning in organisations is the subject of the paper from Diane Newton, Stewart Hase and Allan Ellis. Six major factors were identified from the research as important for the effective implementation of an online learning initiative.

These included external influences, organisational culture, organisational structures, the training environment, learners’ needs and the online learning environment. The research supports some of the issues raised in the earlier paper from Chan Veng Seng and colleagues concerning the cultivation of an appropriate climate and culture for e-learning. Implications for the implementation of online learning in different organisational contexts are raised. The Forum contribution, ‘‘Virtual teams: a virtue for the conventional team’’ by Linda Arnison and Peter Miller, attempts to argue that the current focus of work team-related research, which is almost exclusively on virtual teams, needs to refocus to more research on conventional face-to-face teams. Conventional face-to-face teams remain the predominant form of organisational structure and this is likely to remain the case at least in the medium term, despite the rapid increase of virtual teams. Many conventional teams are also adopting some or all of the technologies and processes used by virtual teams and, as a consequence, are communicating and working as if they were virtual teams. A number of questions therefore arise for researchers. Have researchers forgotten the conventional face-to-face team in favour of research on the more glamorous and trendy virtual team? Are there lessons that can be learned for both types of teams by taking a fresh look at the way high technology face-toface teams are working? I trust you find this issue of the Journal stimulating and provocative. Good reading!

Guest Editor: Peter Miller

Previously published in: Journal of Workplace Learning, Volume 14, Number 4, 2002

Emerald Group Publishing Limited; January 2002
42 pages; ISBN 9781845446901
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Title: The E-workplace And E-learning
Author: Peter Miller
 
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