Smart Moves: Train while you work

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The Independent Online
The residential training week away from the workplace has long since been supplanted in management circles by the short and snappy in- house course.

Now, however, these courses are themselves under threat. Knocking on the door of the management status quo is the electronic training session. Not only can the trainee stay within the office walls, but chained to the desk as well. Continuous learning, it seems, now means exactly that.

One of the pioneers of the ultimate in convenience learning is the Ashridge Business School, which recently launched the virtual version of its learning resource centre. For a cool pounds 6,000 corporate clients can at any time get into the Virtual Learning Resource Centre (VLRC) to access the electronic version of Ashridge's multimedia library.

A former Ashridge employee, Eddie Obeng, has gone even further, setting up Pentacle, a virtual business school, on the premise that there needs to be a continuous link between learning and implementation. It is Obeng's view that such a relationship is better achieved by having an organisation built around a network of experts with low overheads and constant communication with clients.

And other business schools are starting to catch on to the benefits of the technology, particularly as an aid to "distance learning" and part- time programmes as well as a means of keeping in touch with alumni.

The VLRC makes available, among other packages, 40 learning programmes on major skills such as strategic awareness, marketing strategy and planning and performance management.

As many as 10 leading companies, including Allied Irish Bank, Texaco, Channel 5 and MCI WorldCom, are already on board as subscribers.

"We find the VLRC works well if employees are focused before using it," said Cath Jones, the VLRC project manager. "If, for example, it is linked into an organisation's performance reviews or personal development plans it will have more relevance."

"The VLRC is a natural evolution of what is already an invaluable service to our customers," said Andrew Ettinger, director of learning resources at Ashridge. "Now companies can invest in learning so that managers can find the resources of a business school at their fingertips."

Further information is available from 01442 841158; by fax from 01442 841211; or e-mail: cath.jones@