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E-learning in the service of small business

Firmer, January 2016. Author: Paweł Teper

Ms. Agnieszka successfully conducts e-tutoring and e-courses for learning English. A consulting firm is supporting operations by relying on e-training. A company offering fleet management tools is building its expert image by educating consumers using an e-learning platform.  Here are some examples of the use of e-learning in modern business. They show that it is a valuable tool for small (sometimes even one-man) companies. This model of education can be used not only to train our own employees but also as an idea for our own business or a tool supporting it.

E-learning has been used around the world for years. We most often associate it with large companies. It allows to educate employees without high costs and complicated logistics. By using interactive and multimedia content, training becomes convenient, enjoyable, and extremely effective. This is a valuable solution for quite small companies as well. The big ones can indeed benefit most from economies of scale.

The more employees, the greater the savings. It is also true that “small businesses” successfully use e-learning platforms to achieve their own goals. These are slightly different goals and have different benefits, which I will briefly outline below.

Ideas for a business

If we have the right idea and we hit the fertile ground, nothing stands in the way of earning on it. Moreover – this is what virtually every business is based on. Some of the first companies in Poland to use e-learning for business were health and safety training centers offering remote courses for entrepreneurs. E-learning platforms allow you to profit from an idea as long as there is demand in the niche.

Of course, in the beginning, a platform must be created where we will collect and share materials. We need to prepare interesting training content and give it an attractive look. However, these are relatively low costs and, most importantly, incurred on a one-time basis. Let’s look at the www.abc-angielski.pl service for example. The owner of the platform and the author of the content available in it is one person – a teacher and enthusiast of English.

ABC English offers language training as well as preparation for sixth-grade, middle, and high school exams. A large number of interactive exercises and teachers’ comments support the acquisition of knowledge. As it turns out, there is a demand for this type of service.

“I have always been passionate about the English language. I knew I wanted to make passion my way of life, only ... I was still looking for a business idea that wouldn't be stodgy and wouldn't require a lot of financial capital.

Before the launch of the www.abc-angielski.pl platform, I was tutoring through one-on-one meetings with students. I quickly ran out of time for lessons with all those interested. Then, to be able to give lessons at a distance, I used simple communication tools such as the phone and Skype. However, here too I lacked flexibility and the ability to spread my wings. The basic idea was to create a space where my students would feel comfortable.

Setting up a stationary language school at this stage was not an option. For many years as a teacher, I prepared and collected a lot of educational materials. That's how the idea of sharing teaching aids quickly and easily came about. It was only necessary to organize them logically and make them available to my students. The www.abc-angielski.pl platform was created as a didactic tool for working with students at various levels.

Each of them can quickly find all the necessary materials. This is very important, as many of the students are preparing for middle school and high school exams. Thanks to the platform, they can practice skills such as reading and vocabulary, listening comprehension, and grammar rules at their convenience. I, on the other hand, have a very convenient tool to manage lessons, tests, and teaching courses for individual students.

I think that the e-learning platform is a hit. As many of my students point out, www.abc-angielski.pl helps them not only pass their exams and have better grades but also use the language of Shakespeare more confidently. In turn, it gives me the satisfaction of doing business in a way that suits me very well.” Agnieszka Skiba Abc-angielski


Training methods

It is a convenient and affordable form of training for both entrepreneurs and employees. Acquiring new knowledge and expanding competencies is necessary to remain competitive in the market. Unfortunately, with calendars overflowing with other obligations, it is difficult to set aside even half a day to attend the training. To make matters worse - the smaller the company, the more difficult it is to find a replacement for the training-related absence.

What if we want to improve the competencies of several employees? The solution may be to use online courses prepared by external companies. An example is the www.sztuka-sprzedazy.pl This platform is designed for entrepreneurs, managers, sales representatives, and customer service.

People for whom it is important to develop sales skills. It is an extension of the company's offer of traditional training, as well as individual courses delivered via video conference. The tasks and exercises available to customers strongly allow to support the traditional process of expanding knowledge.

Image building

Implementing their own platforms does not always have to involve direct profit. Many companies do it to emphasize their image as specialists, to bring their offerings closer, to make their audiences more aware, or to fulfill a social mission. Safety Logic is a group of experts in business fleet management. They are also the originators of the educational project "Conscious Driver" (www.elearning.swiadomykierowca.pl).

Its goal was to test drivers' knowledge, make them more aware, and, as a result, raise the overall level of safety on the roads. A very right idea and worth propagating. Thanks to it, the Safety Logic brand is thoughtfully building its image in the consciousness of not only potential customers. It shows itself from a very good side, drawing attention to current communication problems and trying to counteract them.An interesting service is www.polskijazyk.pl.

It is an initiative of the organization OKNO NA WSCHÓD, which brings together representatives of various industries who use their knowledge and capabilities to develop educational, economic, and cultural cooperation between the EU and Ukraine, Belarus, or Russia. "Polish jazyk" is a portal aimed primarily at young people who would like to study in Poland.

It helps them learn our language, as well as promotes and introduces the contemporary culture and history of Poland. It is the first tool of this type using modern methods and techniques of education. What is important – users can get access to these methods at no cost.

“For the past couple of years, the OKNO NA WSCHÓD Foundation has been germinating the idea of creating a comprehensive, free, and innovative tool to enable all interested people from the East to learn the Polish language. The concept was able to materialize when funding was received from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland in 2015.

In less than a year, thanks to the titanic work and commitment of many people, the e-learning platform www.polskijazyk.pl was launched. Its purpose is to promote the study of the Polish language and Polish history and culture among young Russian speakers interested in studying or working in Poland.

In addition, the platform is a great tool for Poles and the Polish diaspora in the East to learn Polish. In just a few months, more than 12 thousand users registered on the platform. Currently, there are almost 20 thousand of them already.” Szymon Łapiński, OKNO NA WSCHÓD

Foundation Tools for traders

Let’s assume that your company produces some goods. Assume that they have quite a few features and versions, on which not only their final parameters depend, but also their price. Salespeople have a hard nut to crack, especially if these are custom-made products. In such a case, it is difficult to present the final product to the customer. Most often, we can also forget about something like an “off-the-shelf" price list.

A properly designed e-learning platform is a valuable knowledge base for traders. What’s more – they can reach for it during a meeting with the client and present him with the most important attributes of the product. In the case of interactive presentations, they can go through the process of “parameterization” of the product sold together with the client.

Let’s go further – such a platform could be extended, for example, with a calculator, which will allow us to provide a price offer already during the meeting. And if the customer wants several variant offers? No problem!

In conclusion

In the case of this type of IT solutions, we are limited only by the imagination that we have demonstrated at the implementation stage. Then we only benefit from a well-designed tool that can be not only an effective help to facilitate employee training but also a great “bargaining chip” for sellers.

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