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Include online classes in tuition-Reimbursement plans

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in Career Management,Workplace Communication

If your organization refuses to reimburse tuition for employees who enroll in online college courses, it might be time to reconsider.

Online education is surpassing face-to-face classroom training as a favorite among employees for college courses (and for on-the-job training).

And the quality of online education has improved, too. Chief academic officers at 1,000 colleges and universities confirmed that the quality of online courses now equals that of face-to-face classes, according to a new Alfred P. Sloan Foundation survey.

Enrollments in virtual courses—both at traditional schools and in corporate training departments—are growing by double digits every year. There’s hardly a more convenient way to earn college credits, renew professional certifications and get up to speed on changing technology.

If your employees typically need to leave work early to attend college courses, you can allow them to use company computers during off-duty time to attend to their online coursework.

Plus, more organizations are turning to the Web to train employees, rather than classroom settings. About 18 percent of all corporate training in 2006 was offered via the Internet, estimates ePath Learning, an e-learning vendor. And research firm IDC forecasts a 27 percent annual growth in the market for online training and course-work over the next four years.

If you want to incorporate e-learning into your training, consider these points:

  • Don’t abandon the traditional classroom. Rather, add some Internet-based training to your traditional offerings, so employees can choose the delivery method that’s most comfortable for them. E-learning isn’t for everyone.
  • Partner with a local community college or university that has a program that’s relevant to the work your employees perform. Choose a partner with experience in online education, and check that the Council for Higher Education accredits the program. (www.chea.org)  

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