Employee Training Gets Boost from Esri Virtual Campus

From the beginning, response to Esri's Virtual Campus Web-based training has been positive. More than 63,000 students from 168 countries have benefited from Esri's self-paced courses on GIS technology, GIS applications, and GIS science offered on the World Wide Web. Many organizations, including state and local Virtual Campus screen shot governments, private companies, and universities, are also finding the Virtual Campus to be a valuable component of their employee training programs. More and more, organizations are choosing to purchase annual Virtual Campus subscriptions to provide their members and employees with affordable, high-quality GIS education and training.

Virtual Campus subscriptions offer a number of advantages to organizations looking to upgrade employee knowledge and, at the same time, curb costs. Buying a one-year 100-seat subscription, for example, saves an organization between 44 and 50 percent of the cost of purchasing 100 individual courses, depending on the type of subscription. There are currently two Esri Virtual Campus subscription plans: the Education Subscription, which provides access to all Virtual Campus courses, including those from academic and industry experts; and the Training Subscription, which provides access to all Esri-authored courses, primarily technology courses that teach Esri software programs, including ArcInfo 8.

Organizations appreciate the savings a subscription can bring. "First we purchased 20 courses, and then we went for the subscription," said Nancy Lin of the South Florida Water Management District. Also attractive is the fact that organizations can incorporate the annual subscription fee into their annual budget as a line item under training.

Because training budgets can quickly be consumed, Virtual Campus subscriptions are a cost-effective solution for organizations with large numbers of employees who need to keep up-to-date. "We are planning to have the Virtual Campus replace instructor-led training in the area of basic technology software instruction," states Bob Canepa of San Diego County. Other organizations use Virtual Campus courses to augment classroom training. "Online training is an adjunct to more formal training, which is also offered," explains Paul Paris of the City of Chesapeake, Virginia. Organizations can have employees take Web-based courses and provide an instructor-trained coworker to serve as a mentor and to answer their questions.

Many organizations whose employees work off-site or in regional locations report that an Esri Virtual Campus subscription makes good sense. The New York train at homeState Department of Environmental Conservation's Larry Alber says, "New York's state government is regionally oriented, and the subscription gives employees all over the State the option to use Virtual Campus training." Virtual Campus courses also make sense for organizations providing training for new employees or quickly bringing existing employees up to speed. In Nevada's Washoe County, Tomas Lo plans to have employees start with online training then move on to classroom instruction as needed.

Many employees have embraced the Virtual Campus as a training option. As Janet Slate of the United States Geological Survey observes, "When we contacted employees to gauge interest in the Virtual Campus, there was a tremendous response from them." Virtual Campus courses are especially popular with motivated learners whose work schedules make attending traditional classroom training impractical. Online GIS training allows employees to learn at their convenience, in manageable chunks of time. "The Virtual Campus has more flexibility than classroom training," according to the City of Chesapeake's Paul Paris. Slate agrees, explaining that she really likes the "anytime format" and flexibility Virtual Campus courses provide employees.

A major benefit for organizations purchasing Esri Virtual Campus subscriptions is that they can track employee course usage and completion rates. After purchasing a subscription, an organization assigns one administrator to distribute course registration codes to employees. The administrator can easily track employee progress. Employees can move through the material rapidly. In fact, New York State's Alber reports that 50-75 percent of his employees who register complete a course within a few weeks time. In most cases, administrators ask employees to print and submit the Esri certificates of completion they earn after completing courses. In the case of San Diego County, employees list Virtual Campus course completions in their accomplishments for performance evaluations.

Esri Virtual Campus subscriptions offer organizations a robust, affordable GIS education and training program. Learn more about Esri Virtual Campus subscriptions and other Esri Training and Education offerings.

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