Research Carried Out for the British Open University Shows More Companies are Considering Online Training

March 11, 2002

A recent survey of 1,021 companies with 500+ employees indicated that almost

30% had already used online staff development programmes, and another 30% would

consider online training. The survey was carried out by telephone by Croydon

Market Research Centre (CMRC) for COROUS the corporate arm of the British Open

University between January 11 and February 4, 2002.

The research also ranked the Open University as the most trusted potential supplier

for online learning packages. The survey, which sampled companies with more

than 500 employees, revealed that businesses are not planning to reduce their

training budgets for next year, despite the current downturn in the economy.

Companies surveyed said that the advantages of online learning included staff

being able to learn at their own pace and in their own time. They described

online learning as being convenient and flexible, easy to use and available

to a wide audience.

Others commented that the disadvantages were that online learning is impersonal

with no interaction with teachers or peers, offers no personal feedback, is

not suitable for all subjects and requires a degree of computer literacy before


Marion Baldwin, Commercial Director for COROUS which develops online learning

for corporate clients, said the survey highlighted some of the popular misconceptions

about online learning.

"Many people assume that online learning is an isolating experience but

this is simply not the case. Well-developed online programmes engage the learner,

offer personal feedback, stimulate interaction with an online tutor or moderator,

and can include group working with colleagues in their own or other companies,"

she said.

"It is very encouraging to see how many companies are already using, or

considering, online learning, and to see how many employees have access to the

internet and e-mail. This will make online learning a more viable option in

the future."

The research showed that the percentage of staff with a PC on their desk and

access to the internet and e-mail ranged from 38% for the wholesale and retail

sector up to around 90% for national government.

COROUS is devising online learning packages for numerous companies including

insurance giant Royal and SunAlliance, Shell International Exploration and Janssen-Cilag,

and established a collaborative online discussion forum for the Cambridge Programme

for Industry in 2001. It has also established the COROUS Connect Network, a

designated forum for companies to share their ideas and experiences about e-learning.

The Network holds quarterly meetings for members, hosts online discussion topics

each month and offers online resources, presentations and information. All Network

members are interested in e-learning and plan to use online learning for staff

development in the future. More information about COROUS can be found at its

website at

Contact details (for interviews and photographs)

OU Media Relations Fiona Leslie 01908 653256