Employee training initiatives often are the first bits of fat trimmed from a corporate budget. It’s money better spent elsewhere, right?Not exactly, says Connie Moorhead, president of The CMOOR Group (www.cmoor.com), an e-learning organization in Louisville, KY. “Getting students into the ‘brick-and-mortar’ classroom is a major difficulty in traditional training programs,” she explains, citing corporate America’s desire to keep worker downtime to a minimum as a major hurdle in training initiatives. “Thousands of dollars can be saved in both travel and downtime by using e-learning. It provides access to training for students when and where they need it.”This training approach has many facets, and its use varies from industry to industry. “A ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution just won’t work,” Moorhead says. “There’s no real out-of-the-box solution. It comes down to understanding each client’s training needs.”Between January and March, the American Management Association, New York City, conducted an online survey of its Executive Members to obtain a quick snapshot of how these business movers and shakers felt about the state of their organizations and the economy. Fifty-eight percent of the 130 respondents reported that they planned to scale back travel expenditures, while 25 percent announced they would be reducing training and development budgets.“Vendors in the e-learning market are proving to be quick studies. By improving content and resolving localization issues, they are successfully overcoming corporations’ reluctance to use e-learning,” notes Cushing Anderson, program manager for Framingham, MA-based IDC’s corporate e-learning research. “Increasing Internet usage; faster, more reliable connections; and decreasing telecommunications costs will also contribute to the market’s growth.”Since 1994, Connie Moorhead and her business partner and husband, Chris Moorhead, have devoted their e-learning consulting business to the manufacturing, security, and construction industries, developing web-based, interactive training programs from manuals, classroom, or instructor-led training to create what they call “blended or distance-learning” environments. This blended approach, which takes the best of multiple educational sources and combines them into an easy accessible format, is the heart of e-learning.When developing an e-learning strategy for a client, the Moorheads examine a number of factors, including current training needs, how training has been approached in the past, and what problems management hopes to solve with training.They say an effective e-learning program offers training availability all day, everyday, from any Internet connection with no special equipment required. They tailor courses not only to suit each client’s training needs but also their technical requirements, giving them easy accessibility.“There’s a huge push for companies to put content on the Internet and call it e-learning,’ says Chris Moorhead. “Anyone can do that or put flashy media online for people to see. That doesn’t constitute e-learning. When we’re designing courses, we always keep the goal of learning and the content in mind.”The method’s measurability is a key benefit, Chris says. It makes e-learning unique. Managers can track who has logged on and taken the course. Those who have taken the course can go back in and review what they have learned. They also can download and print out various resources.“We have some people completely eliminating all other training mediums, but most of our clients are doing blended approaches,” Connie says. “It’s more than just an e-learning environment for many of them. It has become an ongoing resource that people use.”Robin Suttell, based in Cleveland, is contributing editor at Buildings magazine.