INVESTING IN IT INFRASTRUCTURE
Question 1. How should Settle and his team evaluate the e-learning option? What factors should they consider when deciding between eLearning and traditional, classroom-based education? Settle should evaluate the eLearning option based on the following principles for delivering value: (1) Have a clearly defined portfolio value management process. In the case, Settle has had a basically financial budget already. There are two vendors that clearly listed to choose, one is RealServer, and the other is Microsoft. (2) Aim for chunks of value. ELearning would enable MBUSA to scale its training systems without building additional training facilities. It improves employee productivity by reducing travel strain, eliminating unnecessary time away from home, and connecting with technicians at their point of work, rather than in unfamiliar classroom environment. (3) Adopt a holistic orientation to technology value. Settle aims to incorporate eLearning as an integral part of an overall program of business change. He considers the web-based distance learning option will benefit dealerships, technicians and MBUSA. (4) Aim for joint ownership of technology initiatives. Settle and his project manager for media development, Richard Thomas, were quite interested in exploring the web-based distance learning option due to the enormous potential benefits to the retail organization. (5) Experiment more often. The objective of a web-based distance learning and certification program is to migrate some or all in-class instruction with virtual classrooms. Here, I assume Settle would apply eLearning to a number of technicians that exceed the classroom capacity (4500), those who have access to computers to take the on-line courses. In this way, the technical training department can undertake pilot studies. The instructional design goal was to develop a learning course that could teach effectively in both face-to-face and distance learning environment. Both an expert-instructor-led approach and eLearning between the two formats were highly desired because the course content is highly dynamic, requiring frequent updates and practical working knowledge. There are few factors that Settle and his team should be aware when deciding between eLearning and traditional, classroom-based education. (1) Training quality. Would students learn as well with material presented in an on-line format, and would they feel they receive the same level and quality of education as with in-class instruction. This will be solved by IT experiments, which identify more about what will be needed to make an idea successful. (2) Training capacity. If the technical training department expands the classroom capacity at the existing education center, it would meet the recent capacity needs. However, with the growth number of technicians, the department may have to build more education centers while eLearning option can bear. (3) Training cost. According to the financial model, it seems preferable to eLearning option. The cost calculation of expand classroom capacity option excluding the initial capital required to build the facility, to operate a training center with two or three classrooms, including instructor salaries, administrative staff, and building utilities and maintenance. While the cost calculation of eLearning option considers more expense. (4) Product documentation availability. In October 2001, there were about 200 internal MBUSA employees who received the product documentation. ELearning assets provide both means and opportunities for more adequately assess learning. With an eLearning system, dealership technicians could access information on-demand, to receive support when and where they need it. Technicians could prepare for certifications at their discretion as well. (5) Refresh rate. New, more complex technologies were being designed into the cars, which increased the difficulty level of installation,...
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