Some Results from Training Call Centre Personnel
Mark Miley, James A. Redmond and Colm Moore
Department of Computer Science, Trinity College, Dublin 2, Ireland
Keywords: e-Learning, traditional classroom learning, blended learning, SPOT+, industrial training.
Abstract: An analysis of the evaluation results on call centre trainees (n1 = 129, n2 = 176)) who underwent a
Traditional Classroom course and an e-Learning course, showed little difference in performance. A survey
questionnaire was completed by a subset of the same trainees (n = 43) later. The respondents expressed a
subjective preference for the Traditional Classroom approach, but the analysis of the questionnaire
responses indicated that they favoured e-Learning aspects slightly more. Although both courses were
dissimilar in duration (7 hours vs. 1 hour) an argument can be made for blended learning. Despite the
widely expressed preference for the traditional classroom mode, it appears that the e-Learning mode can be
equally acceptable, perhaps if the duration is much shorter as happened here. When triangulated against the
SPOT+ study (n = 2000), the results were similar.
LCC’s Learning and Development for Services
(LDS) team provides training and coaching for
LCC’s operations which deliver multilingual support
to a high quality Service Level. All support level
offerings provide a 24x7x365 “break/fix” warranty
to customers with an additional solutions team
providing advanced software services. The total
number of employees exceeds 400, and is rising
constantly, across 15 teams, 4-5 management teams
and 15 technical teams with a total of 7 languages
(English, French, German, Dutch, Spanish, Italian
and Portuguese) supported. The main focus is on
operational performance (the key metric being
customer satisfaction) and the LDS team's primary
objective is to enable this to be met and exceeded
from both a technical and behavioural level.
Coupled with increasing expansion, the advent
of remote working and virtual teams has placed an
extra emphasis on the need for flexible training
solutions from the LDS team, with e-Learning being
an obvious potential solution to be investigated.
The aim of the study was to evaluate e-Learning
vs. Traditional Classroom learning for training help
desk staff for a major PC manufacturing company.
Tracey (1992) argues that there are a number of
advantages with the Traditional Classroom
approach. These include customization to meet the
organizational needs, flexibility as the instructor can
adjust content, instructional strategy, and methods
and techniques to meet trainee needs. All of these
require the “human touch” which King et al. (2001)
note “cannot be easily given by technology-based
training”. However it is not a flawless approach and
has inherent disadvantages including its success
being dependent almost entirely on the competence
of the instructor, and for large and dispersed trainee
populations, time and expense become inhibiting
Kapp & McKeague (2002) acknowledge key
advantages to traditional classroom based training
which include “face-to-face exchange of
information, ideas and concepts between the trainer
and students and among students themselves”. They
continue that another interesting advantage is being
“an effective method for teaching problem-solving”.
A recent American Society for Training and
Development (ASTD) State of the Industry report
(2004) indicated that instructor led training made up
62.8% of the total average of learning hours among
benchmark Forum organisations. On this evidence it
Miley M., A. Redmond J. and Moore C. (2008).
TRADITIONAL LEARNING VS. e-LEARNING - Some Results from Training Call Centre Personnel.
In Proceedings of the Tenth International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems - HCI, pages 299-307
DOI: 10.5220/0001721302990307
is clear that the traditional classroom based approach
is still the most popular amongst organisations.
e-Learning (electronic learning) is a term covering a
wide set of applications and processes, such as Web-
based learning, computer based learning, virtual
classrooms, and digital collaboration. "Learning via
technologies has increased steadily since 1999 as
classroom based training has decreased” (Sugrue,
2004). The figures point towards a sharp increase of
technology based training up from 8.4% of average
learning hours to nearly 30% between 1999 and
Kamsin (2005) identified a number of key
benefits of e-Learning such as: convenience,
flexibility, and self-paced individual instruction.
Kapp & McKeague (2002) also note that “e-
Learning delivers a consistent instruction” along
with it being non-time bound, self-paced and both,
cost and time saving.
However, they also pointed to the fact that
drawbacks to e-Learning are just as important to
consider: technology issues and limitations, and
cultural acceptance. They also conclude that along
with these drawbacks, e-Learning also “has no
personal touch, does not promote problem-solving or
network building by students, and is expensive to
In a recent ASTD study, Sugrue (2004) asserted
that “efficiency and global access are key drivers of
the shift to technology-based delivery.
Organisations cut delivery costs dramatically if they
have a large audience for learning content that can
be transferred to reusable online materials. While the
cost of digital development may go up, the cost per
use becomes negligible if the audience is large".
3.1 The Blended Learning Approach
Blended Learning is learning events that combine
aspects of online and face-to-face instruction.
Blended Learning incorporates in some form both a
traditional and an e-Learning approach. As Zenger
and Uehlein (2001) noted, the “two methodologies
can not only co-exist, but can also come together to
create something far better”.
Sparrow (2004) in his study into blended
learning in the United States and United Kingdom,
found that blended learning programs typically
consisted of the following: (1) Instructor-led
training; (2) Custom e-Learning courses; (3)
Workshops and other print based materials; (4)
Workplace assignments.
He discovered that key drivers for this new
training method included participant time, cost of
delivery, line manager commitment, participant
costs and transfer of learning. However key
challenges for implementing this approach to
training cited in his study were: organizational
culture, senior management support, content
tailoring, cost of development, low uptake, cost of
delivery and difficulty in co-ordinating programs.
Cost can also prove a prohibiting factor due to
the fact that a company will have high front end
costs for e-Learning and also keep a lot of the
moderately high delivery costs associated with
instructor-led training. Furthermore, implementers
of training like blended learning itself are in
unfamiliar territory, with selecting the appropriate
target audience and tailoring of content being the
hardest challenges.
Sugrue (2004) notes in a recent study that “while
the ASTD’s statistics cover learning content that is
delivered via technology, in many cases technology
based learning is preceded or followed by non-
technology based learning, such as coaching, on-the-
job practice, and live discussions” thus reflecting
more of a blended approach being incorporated
industry wide.
Many departments within LCC have adopted e-
Learning at different times in the past, with little
sustainable success, reverting back later to a
traditional classroom approach with an instructor
training the subject. It was decided to analyse
comparative performance for two courses previously
run by LDS for which performance data were
available. These courses were chosen because there
was a substantial overlap in the number of trainees
who had taken both courses.
Data gathered on both training courses, one a
traditional instructor led course and the other an e-
Learning course, were taken over a two year period
with all training taking place in LCC. Trainees
included mainly technical agents but also managers,
call expeditors and coaches.
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4.1 Course Given via Traditional
Classroom Approach
Problem Diagnosis Methodology (PDM) II is a soft
skills based training course which is instructor led
with a total duration of one (7 hour) day. It is a
mandatory course for all New Hires into the
technical support part of the organisation.
Its main objectives are to:
• Demonstrate technicians' ability to use the PDM II
process within their role.
• Explain each stage of the process
• Define and create a correct Problem description
• Identify key changes within a call and prioritise
these changes
• Show how PDM II integrates into the current
As a result of the training, the technicians will be
able to execute the PDM II process to resolve
problems over the phone and document the process.
The trainees must complete a 10-question post-
course test upon completion of the training. The
questions and answers to this test can be found in the
Appendix C in Miley (2007).
4.2 Course Given via an e-Learning
Problem Restriction of Hazardous Substances
(RoHS) is a mandatory compliance, e-Learning
training course given to all LCC employees. This is
a response to the European Union (EU) directive
commonly referred to as RoHS or Restriction of
Hazardous Substances. RoHS requires all
manufacturers of electronic goods to produce their
products in such a manner as to restrict the content
and amount of the following six hazardous
substances: lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent
chromium, polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs) and
polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs).
The course takes trainees between 30 and 60
minutes to complete and they must pass an 11-
question post-course test upon its completion. The
questions and answers to this test can be found in
Miley (2007 - Appendix B).
4.3 Results from Training Course
Table 1 summarises the results for the two courses
that were run, the traditional classroom based
approach (PDM II) and the other being the e-
Learning approach (RoHS). The passing score for
the traditional course was 70% while the passing
score for the e-Learning course was 80%. Results
are available for 129 people who attended the
PDMII course. These also attended the RoHS
A paired t-test applied to the results gives a p-
value of 0.0104 enough to reject the null hypothesis
that the results are equal. But the 99% confidence
interval ranges from -6.718 to 0.018 which passes
through zero (barely) and so suggests there might
not be a statistical difference in the results. An effect
size analysis, using G*Power (Faul et al. (2007))
showed an effect size of 0.289, supporting the
finding that the difference in means is relatively
insignificant. A complete listings of statistical
findings can be found in Miley (2007 - Appendix B).
This discrepancy, (between rejecting the null
hypothesis and the small effect size), can be
explained by the low number of questions in the
tests, 10 and 11 respectively, as well as the different
pass levels. The data suggest that if there is an
overall difference in mean results between the two
methods, it is statistically very small.
Table 1: Group Statistics on Traditional and e-Learning
Group Statistics
Count n = 129 176
Mean Score
81.63 84.68
Median 80 90
10.37 11.38
It was decided to follow up the training with a
questionnaire to the staff trained on these two
courses so as to get feedback on their attitudes to e-
Learning versus a Traditional Classroom course.
The design of this Questionnaire was influenced
by the data collection used in the Spot+ survey
(Spot+, 2003). The essential idea for doing this was
to help compare the various studies via a
triangulation to the Spot+ study. The same questions
were asked on this questionnaire as had previously
been used in part of the Spot+ (2003) study.
Loveridge (1990) defines triangulation as “multiple
methods to capture a sense of reality”.
The Questionnaire consists of 32 questions. It is
made up of three sections:
- the general environment (Questions 1 to 5);
- course evaluation and preference of approach; the
views of the trainees about the value of e-
TRADITIONAL LEARNING VS. e-LEARNING - Some Results from Training Call Centre Personnel
Learning methods and traditional methods along
with their actual educational potential (Questions
6 to 8).
- The final section was heavily influenced by the
research carried out in the Spot+ report
(Questions 9 to 32).
A copy of the Questionnaire is presented in
Miley (2007 - Appendix A).
The first section of the questionnaire has five
questions dealing with the general environment: the
gender of the respondent, ownership of a Personal
Computer (PC), type of broadband, tenure and
support regions.
The second section seeks to measure preferences
between studying with e-Learning and studying with
traditional methods so the next three questions
(Questions 6 - 8) attempt to measure trainee
satisfaction ratings of the e-Learning course
(Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS)), the
traditional classroom course (Problem, Description
Methodology II (PDM II) and their overall
preference for e-Learning over the traditional
classroom approach. All items are measured on a
four point scale (1 = “I totally agree”; 2 = “I mostly
agree”; 3 = “I mostly disagree”; 4 = ”I totally
disagree”). A fifth category ( 5 = “I do not know”)
was added for trainees who lacked the information
or experience needed to answer the question.
The final section of the questionnaire (12
questions + 12 questions) uses the same four point
scale as Section 2 and seeks to measure two main
areas. Firstly, it logs the "positive perception of the
different advantages that e-Learning can bring to
learning and education", and secondly, "positive
attitude towards learning with traditional methods
and negative attitude towards learning with e-
Learning". The 24 questions are provided in a
randomised order to prevent contrasting questions
appearing next to each other .
5.1 SPOT+ Study
The SEUSISS project Final report (2003) “based in
part upon 10 years of data collection in the
University of Edinburgh, was a partnership between
seven European universities, all of them traditional
and research-orientated”. Overall data were
collected and analysed on more than 13,000 students
in universities across Europe on their views on ICT,
along with employers views on ICT.
The Spot+ survey, a follow-on study to
SEUSSIS, which studied “Students’ perceptions of
the use of ICT (Information and Communications
Technology) in university learning and teaching”,
collected and analysed data on about 2000 students
from about thirteen different universities in Europe.
5.2 Questionnaire Administration:
Distribution, Sampling & Coding
Prior to sending out the questionnaire, all questions
were tested in a pilot version. Based on responses
from participants in the pilot test, appropriate
changes were made to the questionnaire.
The questionnaire for this research was
developed and administered using Microsoft’s
Sharepoint Web Services Portal, an application all
participants are familiar with in their everyday work.
Amongst the many advantages of using
Sharepoint was the fact that it enables the researcher
to generate surveys automatically and distribute
them electronically. In addition, all respondents can
reply automatically and responses are recorded
online. Computer administered questionnaires have
the advantage of relatively low cost, ease of
administration, elimination of interviewer bias, and
the opportunity to do instantaneous evidence
collection and analysis.
The research population chosen for the study
consists of the actual LCC trainees who attended
both the Traditional Classroom based training and
also the e-Learning training over a two year period.
An initial email was sent to all prospective
respondents outlining the nature of the research and
notifying them about the location of the
questionnaire on Sharepoint, a specific date of
completion, and a set of directions as to how the
survey should be completed and their responses
recorded. The completed questionnaires filled in by
the respondents using Microsoft’s Sharepoint
Services were analysed using the statistical package
DataDesk, Version 6.2. A complete set of the
descriptive statistics and results is provided in Miley
(2007 - Appendix B).
The study findings are broken down into four
sections. In the first section there is an initial
breakdown of the sample population by gender,
length of tenure in LCC, Personal Computer (PC)
ownership, internet accessibility and support
regions. In the second section the findings relating
to evaluations of the Traditional Classroom based
training and the e-Learning training approach are
ICEIS 2008 - International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems
presented. Next we present the findings from a
positive perception of e-Learning and a positive
perception of the Traditional Classroom based
approach resulting from responses gathered via the
questionnaire. Finally we look at further statistical
analysis of the traditional classroom training and e-
Learning training which took place.
6.1 Breakdown of Sample Population
The questionnaire was sent to all trainees who had
participated in both courses within the previous two
years. However a number of out of office (OoO)
replies were returned indicating that some had left
LCC since attending the training. Consequently the
actual number of recipients who received the
questionnaire was 141. 43 of these responded giving
a response rate of 32.7% for the sample population.
The 43 respondents included mainly technical
support personnel, but also managers, call
expeditors, coaches and trainers who had attended
both training courses. The sample population
represents a good cross section of the Enterprise
Expert Centre (EEC) workforce. Of this sample
population the gender breakdown was strongly male
orientated with just one female.
12% of the population had been in LCC for less
than 6 months. The majority (70%) of employees
have been employed for less than 2 years. This
breakdown reflects the relative youth of the LCC
European Expert Centre (EEC) which has only been
in existence since 2001 and the high attrition rates
which are associated with call centre environments
(Finnegan, 2005). Overall only 9% of employees
who attended both training courses have been in
LCC for 5 years or more.
Only one of the sample population did not have
access to a PC outside of work. 9% of the sample
did not have Internet access. The sample population
also covered a wide cultural background and all
spoke, at least, basic English.
This points to a positive and open environment
for e-Learning opportunities without restrictions on
access to equipment.
6.2 Evaluation of Training Approaches
The responses evaluation for the Traditional
Classroom (PDM II) based approach and the e-
Learning approach (RoHS) reflect a very high
degree of satisfaction with both courses.
44% of participants "totally agreed" with the
traditional classroom course (PDM II) being taught
very well, while 16% felt similarly towards the e-
Learning course. However 47% of participants
"mostly agreed" that the Traditional Classroom
course (PDM II) was taught very well as opposed to
58% for the e-Learning course (RoHS). To
summarise, 91% were happy ("totally agree" +
"mostly agree") with the teaching of the PDM II
(Traditional Classroom) course vs. 74% being happy
with the teaching of the RoHS (e-Learning) course.
No participant thought either course was taught
In contrast to the evaluation of the individual
courses 47% of respondents mostly disagreed with
the preference of e-Learning over the Traditional
Classroom based approach, with a further 26%
totally disagreeing with this statement. This is
illustrated further in Table 2 with a breakdown of the
frequencies with regard to Preference of e-Learning
over Traditional Classroom based approach. Only
19% of respondents agreed in some form to this
Table 2: Preference for e-Learning vs. Traditional
Do not
3% 12% 47% 26% 9%
Q. 8: I prefer e-Learning over the traditional classroom
based approach
This table shows a very strong preference (73%)
for the Traditional Classroom approach over e-
Learning despite the fact that the e-Learning course
was much shorter (about 1 hour) than the traditional
classroom course (1 seven hour day). The responses
show a very high level of preference for the
Traditional Classroom approach over e-Learning.
6.3 Positive Perception of e-Learning
Sections 6.3 and 6.4 give the results of the Positive
Perceptions questions of both methods respectively.
An initial glance at the frequencies shows there is a
very positive perception of the overall improvements
that can be achieved with the aid of e-Learning
materials in the learning environment. Table 3
shows a further breakdown of the frequencies in a
more graphical view.
Table 3: Improvements to overall learning.
Do not
Q.14 21% 65% 5% 2% 7%
Q.20 70% 26% 5% 0% 0%
TRADITIONAL LEARNING VS. e-LEARNING - Some Results from Training Call Centre Personnel
Q. 14: I think e-Learning can improve my learning
Q. 20: I think audio and video material can improve my
86% of respondents believed e-Learning can
improve their learning, while 96% of respondents
agreed that audio and video material improved their
learning. This indicated a high level of confidence
that both methods could improve their overall
learning experience.
6.4 Positive Perception of the
Traditional Classroom
The responses regarding the level of need for face to
face contact when learning was very high at 80%
(Table 4). Coupled with these findings was a mixed
level of responses for studying with a computer first,
and then returning to a traditional education methods
- 58%.
Table 4: Computer study and human interaction.
Do not
Q.11 33% 47% 19% 2% 0%
Q.25 21% 37% 28% 7% 7%
Q.32 40% 42% 12% 0% 7%
Q. 11: Good access to a tutor requires face to face
Q. 25: If studying with a computer turned out to be too
complex, I would like to return to traditional education
Q. 32: Computer-based teaching is lacking in "human"
interaction, since there is no face to face contact.
Approximately 80% of respondents agreed with
the need for face to face contact, either in a
computer based teaching approach or when seeking
a tutor. This is in contrast with approximately one
fifth of respondents who disagreed with these
statements. Irrespective of this, just over half of
respondents stated that they would return to
Traditional Classroom methods if studying with a
computer turned out to be too complex. Very few
respondents opted for neutral ground on any of the
three statements, with only 7% indicating that they
"do not know" with two of the statements. 82% felt
that "computer-based teaching is lacking in human
interaction since there is no face-to-face interaction".
6.5 Information
Section 6.5 gives general information from the
remaining questions asked about both methods. The
responses to reading and locating information are
displayed in Table 5 below.
Table 5: Information.
Do not
Q.13 14% 49% 28% 7% 2%
Q.15 9% 19% 53% 19% 0%
Q. 13: I prefer reading from printed text
Q. 15: Quality information is hard to find on the Web
A mixed set of responses from participants
greeted the statement of reading from printed text
with 63% showing support towards the statement
and 35% indicating their disagreement with the
statement. In contrast approximately 70% of
participants indicated that they disagreed with the
statement that quality information is hard to find on
the world wide web (WWW), with the remaining
30% agreeing with it.
The responses regarding the Traditional
Classroom training approach are presented
graphically in Table 6 below. An overwhelming
94% of respondents preferred being taught in a
traditional classroom based setting, with only 5%
preferring not to be. 58% preferred to study with
traditional education methods while 35% disagreed.
7% of respondents remained neutral indicating that
they did not know.
Table 6: Traditional Classroom Methods/ Settings.
Do not
16% 42% 35% 0% 7%
47% 47% 5% 0% 2%
Q. 24: I prefer to study with traditional education methods
Q. 31: I like being taught in a classroom setting
Table 7 shows the summary statistics for "positive
perception of the different advantages e-Learning
can bring to learning and education" and "positive
attitude towards learning with traditional
methods/negative attitude towards learning with e-
Learning". These values were calculated using the
Spot+ report as a model, selecting twelve pro
ICEIS 2008 - International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems
traditional learning questions and twelve pro e-
Learning questions and omitting any "I do not
know" answers. The percentage of "I do not know"
answers can be found in Miley (2007 - Appendix E)
and are also discussed later. Higher scores are more
positive, minimum score is 1 and maximum score is
Table 7: Some Group Statistics of Student Responses on
Positive Perceptions of e-Learning approach and
Traditional Classroom approach.
Group Statistics e-Learning Traditional
Count n = 43 43
Mean Score
3.25 2.80
Median 3.25 2.78
0.28 0.43
Carrying out a paired t-test on the difference
between the mean results of the pro Traditional
Learning and the mean results of the pro e-Learning
questions provides a p value of < 0.001 enough to
reject the null hypothesis that Traditional Learning
and e-Learning are favoured equally by the
This can be reinforced by calculating a 99%
confidence interval on the difference between the
results of the pro Traditional Learning questions and
the pro e-Learning questions. An interval of between
0.2272 and 0.6671 is calculated, representing the
difference between the pro e-Learning and the pro
traditional learning questions showing that the e-
Learning is favoured by the candidates.
We note the small sample size of n = 43, and we
also note that we are comparing a 1-day traditional
classroom course with a 1-hour e-Learning course
taken at the user's convenience. We also must
question how good the short (10/11 questions) Post-
Question tests are? A complete listings of statistical
findings can be found in Miley (2007 - Appendix
7.1 Evaluation of Training Courses
Both training courses, PDM II and RoHS received
very high levels of satisfaction with approximately
90% of respondents feeling that each course was
taught very well. Although this is only the first level
measurement of evaluation according to Kirkpatrick
(1998), he does suggest how important it is to
achieve a positive reaction from a training course as
a “positive reaction may not ensure learning, but a
negative reaction almost certainly reduces the
possibility of its occurring”. This bodes well for
further training delivery using both methods and
illustrates that a number of pitfalls associated with
both approaches have been avoided.
In addition, when respondents were questioned
on the preference of e-Learning over the Traditional
Classroom based approach, over 70% of respondents
disagreed. This points to the fact the adoption of an
e-Learning approach is dependent on a mixture of
factors as discussed by Kapp & McKeague (2002).
This demonstrates the importance for Learning and
Development for Services (LDS) to learn and adhere
to these dependent factors when formulating,
delivering and evaluating an e-Learning training
7.2 Positive Perception of e-Learning
Overall, outcomes from respondents on the view of
the different merits that e-Learning can bring to
learning and education proved very positive. This
viewpoint concurs with results from the Spot+
report. Upon further investigation, however,
interesting findings are revealed for analysis.
Respondents showed strong agreement with the use
of e-Learning for information exchange, such as “to
ask questions of experts and relevant people, no
matter where they are” and “to share information
and ideas with people who have similar interests”,
again concurring with the Spot+ findings on the role
of ICT. Mixed views of disagreement for e-
Learning were expressed specifically around
“effective sharing of experiences”.
This indicates that although the respondents
believe e-Learning allows them to share information
amongst themselves and with experts on the subject,
they also believe that Traditional Learning methods
allow them to better share "experiences" and more
then just information.
7.3 Positive Perception of the
Traditional Classroom
Unlike the Spot+ report, respondents expressed
mixed views on learning purposes in the context of a
positive perception of the Traditional Classroom
based approach (defined as printed text and a
classroom setting). Almost all respondents preferred
“being taught in a Traditional Classroom setting”.
However approximately 35% disagreed with
preferring “reading from a printed text” which is an
obvious characteristic of the Traditional Classroom
approach. This, in isolation, is interesting, but as
TRADITIONAL LEARNING VS. e-LEARNING - Some Results from Training Call Centre Personnel
approximately 70% disagreed with the question:
“Quality information is hard to find on the web”, it
adds significant support to a blended learning
approach model.
The preceding responses, however, may be
heavily influenced by the nature of the work
performed by the sample group. Online searching
for quality information is a core aspect in being
successful in one's role in EEC in LDS.
Further evidence is apparent when viewing the
results of the statement “prefer to study with
traditional education methods” which received a mix
of positive and negative results, approximately 50%
and 35% respectively. While in contrast,
approximately 80% of respondents agreed in some
form with “computer-based teaching/learning is
lacking in “human interaction”".
Unsurprisingly, comparing the responses of
perception of Traditional Learning and e-Learning
from this study with those of the Spot+ report
provides very similar results. Mean values for a
Positive Perception to e-Learning are 3.25, aligning
well with 3.27 in the Spot+ report, and Positive
Perception towards the Traditional Classroom based
approach is 2.80 which is quite similar to 2.69 in the
Spot+ report.
7.4 Results: Traditional Classroom vs.
e-Learning Approach
The relatively high scoring marks for both courses
illustrates a ceiling effect and also a floor effect.
This is because trainees must continue to sit the end
of course exam until they have passed it, in essence
making it a pass/fail exam rather than a specific
scoring exam.
This is reflected in mean results of 81.63% in the
Traditional Classroom course and 84.68% in the e-
Learning course. Interestingly, although both results
are quite similar, the pass marks for each course
were different. 70% in the former and 80% in the
This points to the traditional class performing
better with stronger delta improvements when the
pass mark is subtracted from the respondent's score.
The fact remains that both a ceiling effect and floor
effect occur in the results of the exams, instead of a
Bell curve for normal distribution.
7.5 Limitations & Implications for
Future Practice
The first limitation, as noted earlier, is that
responses to the survey was relatively low at just
33%. A further limitation in the research is that it
only deals with a questionnaire and results from the
same group of trainees in two different courses, e-
Learning and Traditional Classroom, both of which
are quantitative in nature. Also both courses were
not of the same duration (one hour vs. one seven
hour day).
One other limitation is the fact that the post-
course exams completed by trainees at the end of
both the e-Learning course and Traditional
Classroom based course only contain 11 and 10
questions respectively. Hence this is a very limited
question pool from which to adequately test the
knowledge gained from attendees. However this
does fulfil the business need from an LCC
perspective as a method to test training success
which is both quick and cost efficient.
For LCC, the main implication arising from the
study is the subjective preference shown towards the
Traditional Classroom based approach. The widely
expressed dislike shown towards an e-Learning
course, even a short one, suggests that finding a
blended approach is a better way to proceed. Perhaps
the 7:1 ratio of traditional course duration to e-
Learning duration, which just happened in this
study, reflects what could be a good blend ratio in
practice. There is evidence in other situations of
dislike for e-Learning and also anecdotal evidence of
such dislike. There is also evidence to support a
small quantum of e-Learning for a larger quantum of
traditional teaching (Lee, Redmond & Dolan, 2007).
7.6 Don't Know Analysis
Some areas of concern however centre around the “I
do not know” responses, high amongst respondents
concerning “in online courses, small-group learning
may become disorganised” at 26%. Other examples,
are “learning with E-Learning requires highly
developed study skills” at 14% and 7% “e-Learning
can improve my learning”. Similar results were
experienced in the Spot+ report which put forward
the argument that this may be caused due to low
levels of experience with ICT. This is not the case
in the Enterprise Expert Centre (EEC) due to the
background and job role of the sample group.
Instead, a low level of experience with e-Learning
by the sample population may have caused them to
cautiously view it and instead opt for the Traditional
Classroom based approach which they have
encountered since childhood.
ICEIS 2008 - International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems
It can be seen from the research carried out on this
small sample population that there are statistically
significant differences between Traditional
Classroom training and e-Learning with regard to
exam results from either course amongst trainees but
they are relatively small in magnitude favouring e-
There were high levels of PC ownership and
access to the Internet outside of work among the
participants which facilitates the use of e-Learning
tools without worrying about access to equipment.
Evaluation of both training courses, Traditional and
e-Learning, received high levels of satisfaction from
respondents and scoring for the end of course exam
for both courses showed only small differences.
However, when questioned directly via the
questionnaire, over Preference for e-Learning over
Traditional, the majority preferred the Traditional
Classroom approach by far, illustrating a strong
degree of support for current training approaches in
the industry.
Regarding the degree of support for a Positive
Perception of e-Learning and a Positive Perception
of Traditional Classroom, the findings point to there
being a small difference in favour of e-Learning.
The results on a sample population of a
computer call centre trainees were similar to the
SPOT+ study on about 2000 university students.
There is a paradox in that the trainees disliked e-
Learning but the questionnaire statistics show that
they preferred the e-Learning methodology in their
questionnaire replies.
As noted elegantly in a Chinese Proverb:
“Teachers open the door. You enter by
yourself” .
We would like to acknowledge the support of Mr.
Christopher MacNulty in facilitating the provision of
data and support for the Questionnaire. We would
also like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their
insightful comments and suggestions.
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TRADITIONAL LEARNING VS. e-LEARNING - Some Results from Training Call Centre Personnel