Leaner Support Requirements for Online Workplace Training in the South African Furniture Industry


  • Iain S. Macdonald
  • Mark Bullen
  • Robert A. Kozak




E-learning, learner support, workplace learners, corporate training, online training.


In 2005, a qualitative research project was conducted to evaluate the suitability of e-learning as a means of delivering training to workplace learners in the South African furniture manufacturing sector. Twenty learners participated in a three-month pilot e-learning course and were monitored throughout. While the study was designed primarily to investigate the effectiveness of various pedagogical techniques in a South African context, the importance of providing adequate support to learners emerged as a critical theme during the research project, and this is the subject of this article. Issues included: poor awareness among learners’ superiors, IT staff, and financial managers about the e-learning activities that their employees were involved in; sensitivity about costs incurred by employees in connecting to the Internet; a ‘hands-off’ attitude to online training by human resources staff; and a failure in many cases to set aside adequate study hours for employees. Recommendations for companies undertaking training via e-learning include: performing a cost-benefit analysis of face-to-face versus online training; facilitating clear and timely communication within the organisation regarding e-learning activities; and establishing a study plan for each learner with the active involvement of learners’ supervisors, IT support specialists, human resources staff, and financial managers.





Innovations in Online and Blended Education in Community Colleges