Factors influencing acceptance and resistance to elearning in small-to medium-sized enterprises.
The increased sophistication of telecommunications technology during the past decade, especially with the incorporation of the use of the Internet into the mainstream of Canadian society, has resulted in a convergence of focus for the training and business sectors. The purpose of this study was to investigate what influences acceptance and resistance to a corporate elearning initiative provided by X Company to its dealer network to identify the factors affecting participation. The research used a survey design to gather both qualitative (interview instrument) and quantitative (questionnaire instrument) data to examine the factors affecting learner interest in, and resistance to, training and elearning. The results provided insight into the attitudes and perceptions of X Company employees about the training and identified areas for further attention to facilitate a ‘best practices’ approach for increasing participation. The research question explored was: “What barriers and enticers emerge regarding elearning in a group of employees offered an elearning training opportunity.” Lewin’s Force Field Theory was used to examine the driving and restraining forces that influence an individual’s ‘fields’ and was used as the framework to apply the findings to gain a clearer understanding of the factors that supported or detracted from participation in this elearning initiative. Lewin suggests that consideration of what encourages learners to embrace new methods for learning is important but equally, the factors that cause resistance to learning must be thoroughly examined. If an employee, in this instance, is motivated to try new methods of learning then participation will be high however, if they are resistant to learning their level of participation will be low. Supporting factors for elearning in this study indicated appreciation for being provided with work related training, with increased product knowledge and stronger customer service skills that were formally recognized by the employer, being the others. Detractors which appeared to cause resistance were insufficient time to complete the lessons, insufficient coaching and support, incentives that did not hold meaning and, in some cases, lack of remuneration for lesson completion. Additional detractors were inadequate technology (server freezes, incompatible plug-ins, inaccessible links to testing, inability to access using dial-up connections) and no practical assessments of learning on the store floor after lessons were completed.