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E-learning Spreads among Small Businesses This article presents several examples of small companies that have adopted this training method and shares their experiences.

The new online training tools offer a dynamic options for small businesses with personnel in different regions that seek flexibility and savings What information you need to use these classrooms.

Training in virtual classrooms is an option that allows companies to save time, ensure flexibility and reduce costs. Although only a limited number of small companies have gone with virtual learning to date, the number is growing quickly. “Approximately 60% of those who participate in e-learning programs are from cities outside the capital of Buenos Aires," explains Leonardo Gargiulo, the extended learning secretary at Eseade, an institution that has used this method since 2011. According to Gargiulo, the secret to success of online training is based on three pillars:

“A platform that is easy to access and does not require hardware knowledge on the part of the user; a teacher, who generates a dynamic classroom, with participation and multimedia, and a work methodology with clear requirements."

This type of learning is very useful for companies whose personnel are located in different provinces, conclude Gargiulo. Eseade offers a distance management diploma that includes an executive training course (a five-month course costing 6,000 pesos) and a financial course (10 hour, $1,200).

For those who are far

“Over the past two years, the increased access to virtual tools and the wide variety of selection allowed me and other executive staff members to start training courses related to our main activity,” explains Daniel Ferreira, an executive at 3 Comunicación Estratégicas, a consulting firm that offers communication, human resources and market research services. The company has 16 employees and annual sales of around 3.2 million pesos. They have spent around $20,000 in virtual training since their headquarters are located in the city of Comodoro Rivadavia.

“Virtual classrooms allow us to train with specialists who are not available in the Patagonia region and given the fact that we are a small firm that needs to save time and money, e-learning is better for us than traditional training."

Summarizes Ferreira.

Francisco Pedrido owns the restaurant Los Tuchos in Guadalajara, Mexico. At the end of 2011, Pedrido owned three Argentine food restaurants in Mexico and one Italian food restaurant with 14 employees. He had invested US$40,000 and sales had reached US$800 per day. Pedrido recently sold two of the restaurants and he is currently managing the one restaurant left while in Argentina, where he has returned to start a new project similar to the one in Mexico. "In August, I plan to return to Mexico and continue taking classes in Eseade's distance management program, where I have been studying every Friday since April. There are ten of us students and we connect to the virtual classroom, which allows us to interact with professors. At my Mexico restaurant, I have applied my knowledge of human resources, motivation and leadership, and questions related to marketing and positioning," explains the entrepreneur.

The first results are already in: “The business is more organized and I am taking advantage of economic, human and material resources in a new way. This has allowed me to lower product costs by 8%," concludes Pedrido.

Advantages to the System

Carlos Pizarro Navia, Argentina's director at Bridge (a company that provides language services and cultural exchange, headquartered in Denver)also believes that the demand for online training is on the rise. With offices in Chile, Brazil, Argentina and plans to open in Qatar, Bridge has a Learning Management System that provides solutions for different types of classes and student profiles. “An LMS for end users must have the latest available technology without requiring the student to be a software expert,” affirms Pizarro. In addition, Pizarro believes that the quality of the teacher-student interactions must be high, whatever the communication method utilized. He does, however, warn that, “Many platforms overlook the teacher--and that is a mistake.".

Another educational institute, Instituto Madero, offers face-to-face and online programs to teach leadership competencies for middle-ranking executives. "Our headquarters are in Buenos Aires and we have many offices in the interior, especially in the north and in Patagonia, where our clients frequently request virtual training sessions," explains Guillermo Lúquez, academic director at the institute. According to the director, this training method also provides benefits for whoever provides the training. “The costs or programs are lower than face-to-face meetings because there is no need to spend on classrooms, equipment or travel. The classes are shorter and divided in modules so students can pass each module by taking short, frequent tests,” he explains. “The only area where the virtual classroom is not as effective is when the class is about attitudes or management abilities such as communication, motivation or negotiation."

In terms of the latest trends, Lúquez expects that formal education (at the school and university level) will be incorporating more virtual activities in the future, since the culture of the Y generation is already digital and their education requires this format.

By: Ángeles Thorne for www.cronista.com

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