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E-Learning in Banking

E-Learning in Banking

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Published by: api-3860347 on Oct 19, 2008
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E-Learning in Banking: Perspectives and Initiatives
V.P. Gulati and M.V. Sivakumaran
Institute for Development and Research in
Banking Technology (IDRBT), Hyderabad.
Email:v pgu lat i @idr bt.ac . in ;mv s iv ak umar an@ idr b t.ac . in

The emerging perspectives in e-learning are discussed. The need to re-orient traditional training systems to offer web-based learning, by taking full advantage of the internet technology, is being explained. The IDRBT initiatives in providing e-learning to bankers in India and the emerging challenges for the training system in this regard are considered and commented upon. The paper emphasizes the paramount need for organizations to get into the continuous learning mode to succeed and survive in the knowledge era.

1. Introduction

\u2018Knowledge Transfer\u2019 seems to be the new mantra that is gaining more acceptance than the traditionally accepted definition of \u2018education\u2019. Classrooms today, transcend limitations of time, space, race and language. The Internet has revolutionized the concept of distance education. However, there are certain factors that differentiate the good and the better from the mediocre and the average.

2. Knowledge Transfer in the Banking Industry

In a country like India, where the sheer volume of people, the expanse of regions and the diversity of languages exists, this new medium of learning holds immense promise. Take for instance, the banking industry - a vertical segment, where timely adoption of technology plays a critical role in deciding the leader and the laggard. With an employee base from different streams of education and walks of life, it becomes imperative to enhance the awareness and transfer of technology in an easy and efficient manner.

If we look at the traditional way of imparting education in this industry, the role of the staff training colleges and similar academic institutions has been vital and significant. While these have largely met our requirements, the changing face of technology being used in our operations necessitates the need to reflect these changes in our human capital on par. The need to transform

into a learning organization is more apparent in
today\u2019s dynamic environment.
\ue000V.P.Gulati, Director, IDRBT
\ue000M.V.Sivakumaran, Faculty, IDRBT
2.1 The Learning Organization

The Society for Organizational Learning (MIT) defines a "Learning Organization" as one in which people at all levels, individually and collectively, are continually increasing their capacity to produce results they really care about. The Learning Organization is therefore a collective ideal, a vision.

The distinguishing feature about a learning organization is that it promotes a culture of learning, a community of learners, and it ensures that individual learning enriches and enhances the organization as a whole. There can be no organizational learning without individual learning, but individual learning must be shared and used by the organization (P. West 1994).

The familiar litany of challenges and changes- global competition, technological advances, quality


work, demographic diversity, changing social structures - is driving organizations to adapt and change. "The ability to learn faster than your competitors may be the only sustainable competitive advantage" (Murrell and Walsh 1993, p. 295).

Today, the banking industry is in the midst of a huge transformation. The voluntary retirement schemes floated by various banks are largely driven by the need to have richer human capital, and the adoption of technology in various operational areas. The need of the hour is to impart knowledge more than learning, and to retool the experienced personnel into more valuable ones. The traditional approach of job rotation and promotional incentives too are being looked at in a different perspective. Banks today realize the need to design career paths and job


profiles clearly for1 2its personnel, as the flux of human capital across industries is not a barrier for the learners.

2.2 Issues involved in Training

The issue that a bank faces today is to have cost effective, highly accessible and efficient means of knowledge transfer.

\ue000How can a bank ensure that its employees are
knowledgeable than just literate?
\ue000 How can it harness the power of various media
to impart the same knowledge across different
learning curves?
\ue000Most importantly, how can a bank ensure that
training goes in tandem with daily operations,
without compromising on the quality aspect?
\ue000How can a bank personalize the training needs
of its staff?
2.3 Internet as a Learning Medium

The Internet is being widely positioned as the next big thing in distance education, harnessing the power of multimedia to simulate classroom scenarios. Using the web as a medium raises its own challenges. The goal is to transfer, as effectively and efficiently as possible, a concise and logical block of information from the teacher or the computer into the minds of the learners.

Computer based training materials or CBTs are mostly designed with superficial knowledge transfer in mind. In the process, extraneous information is often left out in order to simplify the content. This constrains the learners to having limited number of paths through the lesson.

This approach would work well for the training of basic skills in areas of knowledge that are well defined and stable. However, technology does not tend to remain stagnant or stable to ensure success of this approach. As adults we face one ill-defined problem after another. The specific facts that we have to know change so quickly that some knowledge becomes obsolete almost as soon as we master it.

I recall what Steven J Gill said in this context: \u201cModern businesses are good at creating infrastructure for decision making but not for learning. But learning and application of learning

are critical to organizational success in the
Knowledge Age.\u201d
3. Breaking Barriers

In this backdrop, open learning will be patronized more. Access, Cost and Flexibility will be key factors in choosing the delivery methods. Technology limitations or bandwidth constraints are no longer a concern in distance education. A country-wide reliable and high-bandwidth leased line network is already available and a large number of players are augmenting this capacity. Professional development will determine personal success. Training offerings will mushroom with quality being the differentiating factor.

3.1 Traditional Corporate Training

We were used to short, dense packaged approach in corporate training especially with regard to IT. The sessions were usually timed away from normal routines. Planning, organizing and instruction modes were lacking in real assessment. Imparting practical know-how was overlooked or compromised for dense theoretical transfer of knowledge. Interactions were not optimized for knowledge transfer. The approach was increasingly passive.

3.2 Corporate Training Revisited

To be productive, the active learning approach must be with constructivism as the corner stone, training becoming more and more learner- focussed, and less teacher-focussed. Training should be in tandem with daily routines and requirements and this should normally lead to reward for professional development in line with corporate direction. To achieve these we must incorporate quality design elements in open learning systems.

3.3 Professional Development of Bankers

A coherent long-term plan dove-tailed to meet the banker's needs will form the core of a successful e-learning strategy for banks. The strategy should provide for professional development to take place over time, in a meaningful manner. The


leadership development of the participants. The system should be capable of supporting activities balanced with individual learning needs, by giving them enough scope for applying the knowledge gained on a day-to-day basis

3.4 Traditional Audio Visual Aids and
Emerging Technology

If we consider the recent use of audio visual aids, the use of video and CBTs have been adopted for the benefits they offered to open learning. Videos are powerful and flexible, bring classroom to public domain and illustrate concepts and ideas. While most learn and retain more from images, the use of video is synergistic when coupled with lecture.

Computer based training aids (CBTs) on the other hand, have been considered a proven method, with the ability to couple images, video, sound and text. It can be individualized and flexible, with built in assessment of skills, providing a cost effective education means over time.

Today, asynchronous learning tools combine the traditional power of reading material and audio/video tape with data interaction mode such as email, listserv, discussion boards, groupware, multimedia and web-based training.

While the asynchronous mode facilitates flexibility and repeatability, the synchronous mode fosters group instruction with teleconferencing, audio conferencing

conference and computer chats.

Web based learning is the current frontier for distance education providers. It involves CBT using


most predominant and elevating characteristic of web based learning is that it is interactive and not passive. It is also easy to distribute, evaluate and update.

4. IDRBT Initiatives

We at IDRBT have planned to take full advantage of this potential medium of Web Based Learning to provide value added professional development options to bankers across the country.

We are offering a Web Based Post Graduate
Management. The programme, scheduled to start
in January 2002, is modular in nature spread over
a period of two years.

The central objective of the programme is to impart the state of the art knowledge of technology and its management relevant for modern Banking and Financial services to meet the emerging challenges of the information era. The program aims to evolve and offer the expert knowledge of each of its courses to individuals crossing geographic boundaries in a cost effective manner through online learning experience of a virtual classroom scenario.

Although the program is initially targeted at individuals working in Banks and Financial Institutions of India but in due course of time it is expected to be open for any qualified individual of the globe who is interested in pursuing a career in Banking and Financial Sector if the candidate satisfies the required norms.

Our web based training initiative incorporates the natural complexity of a subject, by factoring in multiple perspectives of the subject involved. The higher goal is not restricted to the mere transfer of content from the instructor/computer to the learner. The learner is encouraged to construct his/her own perception of the content, subject to revision through feedback. Giving tasks and opportunities, information resources and support, and allowing collaboration with other learners achieve this. A constructivist use of technology presents information to the learner in multiple forms from multiple sources and invites the learner to make sense of it.

The learner can acquire the required information from several sources via the internet, and from off-line sources including his or her own prior experience, from information gathered while collaborating with other learners, and from references and other sources of expertise found somewhere far away from the computer screen.

In general, a constructivist approach is more learner-focused, and less teacher-focused. The emphasis is on creating an environment in which the learners can actively create their own meaning in the context, rather than to passively absorb knowledge structures created by the instructor. In this approach, the instructor's role moves away from being the sole source of information and moves toward being a coach and originator of resources. The stress here is on

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