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Sample of E-Learning Analysis at Bank of America Merrill

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Introduction

This essay aims to understand the concept of e-learning used in organisations, for aiding learning and development in its employees. In this essay, the learning practices used in Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML) have been critically analysed, followed by the suggestion of recommendations and understanding of limitations BAML may face in implementing these improvements.

E-learning is the method of learning which is used in organisations, by the use of electronic technologies such as mobile and internet, so as to enable the learning and understanding about a certain topic (Carliner and Patti, 2016, p.1). BAML utilizes E-learning in its learning approaches, in order to aid its employees regarding their learning and development as competent employees.

Learning Approaches at Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML):

Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML) utilizes E-learning approach by using traditional and cutting-edge tools and resources (bofaml.com 2016). It has been seen that various learning approaches are used by organisations, of which the approach of e-learning is raising ahead (CIPD, 2015, p.3). BAML promotes e-learning practices, so as to enable learning via online courses, interactive web videos, interactive audios, audio and video slideshows, webinars, and photo slideshows. The company uses this learning method, to foster group interaction amongst the trainer and the trainees, explaining them about the company, their job roles. Various learning modules, such as the leadership module is utilised by the organization, which enables them to develop the leadership qualities in their employees (Haythornthwaite et al. 2016, p.2). This proves to be beneficial for the firm and the employees since it makes them competent enough to sustain in the financial market.

E-Learning at Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Figure 1: E-Learning at Bank of America Merrill Lynch

E-learning method used can be any of the three types - interactive, collaborative and distributive. BAML utilizes the interactive approach of e-learning, where the trainer has to participate in training the trainee, on a voluntary basis (Hrtoňová et al. 2015, p.873). It has been seen that the trainers available at BAML participate voluntarily, promoting the career growth of the novice employees. This is a vital factor, which is considered at BAML since the availability of the trainer impact the learning and development of the employee. Further, the organization understands that the concept of implementing e-learning is to allow learning among those employees who have a flexible schedule (Hoyt, 2013, p.83). The organization does this by applying the strategy of planned guidance, where the employees are explained about the scope of each online course offered, so as to promote the understanding of various banking concepts like stocks, investments, bonds, debit and credit.

This allows BAML to develop the courses for the employees from the grass root level, as per their level of understanding. This has been due to globalization and advanced technology, which has enabled the world to come closer and increased the scope of a gain of knowledge. The BAML therefore uses an analytical framework, helping them to understand the level of concept understood in the mind of their employees, hence, designing a course for the employee (Holden and Stewart, 2013, p.212). This is enhanced by the inclusion of internal resources along with external expertise. These are provided through asynchronous e-learning, where they are provided with interactive audios and videos, and photo slideshows showing the graphs of company's status. This has proved to be beneficial for the company since it provides them with competent employees. However, it has been noted that rate of learning varies per employee since it depends on, technologies and modules used, availability of the trainer and attitude of the trainee in regard to the learning programme (Mills and Kelly, 2012, p.103).

Employee Learning and Development at Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML):

The concept of e-learning is to enable learning on the basis of two theories - theory of planned behavior and theory of instructional design. BAML applies the two theories in order to lead to positive learning and development among their employees (Ong et al. 2016, p.19). Since BAML uses an interactive e-learning approach, it lets the trainer focus on the learning needs and requirements of the trainee. This enables the employees to learn better, having a positive impact on their ability to learn and develop skills, as per the requirement of their industry (Silberman et al. 2015, p.1). Moreover, the traditional and cutting edge resources provided at BAML help the employees to get the learning material for themselves, than going to the learning centre to get trained for the work.

 Theories Influencing E-learning at Bank of America Merrill LynchFigure 2: Theories Influencing E-learning at Bank of America Merrill Lynch

The learning approaches used at BAML, further, enable them to practice and implement the concepts learnt, thus helping them to transfer their skills in real life situations by focusing on the knowledge acquired (Batalla-Busquets et al. 2013, p.44). However, the rate of learning and development via e-learning varies per employee. This is because of their attitude towards the learning programme provided at BAML. Such an attitude formed between the employees is due to the availability of the trainer and their positive expectations out of the learning programme (Burke et al. 2015, p.243).

Factors Influencing Learning and Development of Employees
Figure 3: Factors Influencing Learning and Development of Employees

It has been seen that lack of knowledge about the latest technology and learning methods, fails to gain the interest of the learner, creating a negative attitude towards the learning programme. BAML has overcome this problem by including the use of audio and video interaction, and photo slideshows showing company's graphical progress. Further, the age of the trainer also and rate of availability plays an immense role in the advanced behaviour formed in the trainee towards the programme (Gay, 2016, p.199). It has been seen that employees at BAML, The voluntary and active participation of the trainer, in monitoring the transfer of knowledge gained into daily life situations, helps to ensure quality learning and development amongst employees. However, this is further influenced by the expectations of the employees out of the programme. The employees usually expect that such learning would help them enhance and grow their career scope. When this is not fulfilled, it forms a negative attitude amongst the employees (Cheng et al. 2012, p.885). Thus, when the training fails to provide better work performance it leads to a negative attitude among the employee.

Recommendations for Improvement of Learning Practices at Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML):

The Bank of America Merrill Lynch has been seen to implement an interactive e-learning approach, with an analytical strategy by the use of traditional and cutting-edge resources. Even though this learning approach has enabled positive quality learning and development among their employees, it can still be improved, promoting better work performance and job sustenance of the employees. It has been seen that BAML only uses an interactive approach. Therefore, it would be advisable that it also uses a modified e-learning approach by combining interactive and collaborative approaches of e-learning. This will also enable the employees to work as a team, It has been seen that organizational performance does not depend on the efficiency and performance of an employee alone. It also depends on the performance of every team in the organization. Hence, by combining collaborative approach, BAML could train their employees to work as a unified team as well.

It has been observed that the e-learning facilities are only extended to the new employees working in Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Therefore, the training facilities should be extended to each employee, be it a novice or an experienced practitioner or an expert. This is because it is a well-known fact that, an organization be it a bank or a corporate house, only gains a competitive advantage, if it uses innovation and latest technology. BAML knows this is only possible by means of e-learning. So, e-learning should be provided to every employee in the bank.

The e-learning process can only prove to be truly successful if their employees are provided with a motivating and healthy work environment. BAML can do this by ensuring e-learning for every member, introducing practices and monitoring the same, motivating the employees on their good performance. This motivation can be provided through job offer letter for novice employees and apprentices, performance appraisal, rewards, incentives, bonus, pay rise and promotion of to a higher post. The provision of a healthy work environment can be assured by providing them to work in a team of a diversified workforce, where everyone is treated as equal.

Last but not the least; a proper feedback system should be used by BAML. This will help the organization to get feedback from both the trainers and employees, helping the management and the trainers to know any problem faced by the employee in the learning programme. It will help the trainer to understand if any modification or change is required in the modules and approaches utilised for training the employees, ensuring quality learning and development of skills and concepts in the employees, helping them to develop leadership and competency skills in them.

Constraints to Improvement of Learning Practices at Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML):

Even though the suggested improvements can help to improve the e-learning approach used at BAML, it can face various constraints so as to properly implement it to promote quality learning and development among employees. Various stereotypes existing among the elderly employees regarding e-learning can pose as a barrier to the improvement of learning practices at BAML (Holden and Stewart, 2013, p.218). Older experienced employees have already achieved their targets with their concept and training, making them believes that e-learning facilities would not help in improving their performance. This is especially seen among employees nearing their age of retirement, which further enhances their negative attitude, posing as a constraint to the recommended strategy.

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Careless and unplanned implementation of the strategy can lead to negative quality of learning among employees not developing their skills. This limitation is further enhanced by the problem of lower motivation, which influences the attitude of the employees regarding their learning and development of competent skills.

The problem of time zones can influence the availability of external expertise for the e-learning program at BAML. The United States of America is known to have six time zones, which can lead to difference in time from one place to another. This can lead to a lack of availability of the expertise at the time of learning of the employee posing as a problem to the execution of the suggested strategy.

Another constraint to the implementation of the recommended strategies is the technical problems, which may arise during the e-learning course. E-learning takes place through electronic technological devices. If these devices are not up to the standard quality, it can hamper the e-learning facilities provided to employees. This can be a problem on the computer or mobile screen, a problem in the projector, sound problems, the problem in the hardware, the intrusion of a virus, Trojan and malware, and so on. This can pose a problem to the learning and instructional process of employees, leading to poor quality of learning and development.

Another limitation, which can happen on combining interactive and collaborative e-learning approaches, is the development of unnecessary dependency of new employees on the experienced ones. It can often be seen in organisations like BAML, that during the training session, the new employees develop an unnecessary dependency on older employees, regarding fulfilment of targets. This leads to poor quality of learning and development, often leading to termination of novice workers and retention of the experienced ones in the organisations, hampering career growth of the employee leading to decrease in the overall performance of the organization, posing as a barrier to the implementation of the suggested strategy.

Conclusion

It can therefore, be concluded from the above essay that. The Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML) has successfully implemented e-learning approach, promoting a positive quality of learning and development of skills in their employees. In addition, it can also be concluded that learning and development of skills in employees are mainly influenced by the attitude of the learner. Further BAML can successfully improve its e-learning approach used by implementing the recommended strategies, even though it may face certain constraints while implementing the same in promoting quality learning and development of skills in its employees.

Reference

  • Batalla-Busquets, J.M. and Pacheco-Bernal, C., (2013). On-the-job e-learning: Workers' attitudes and perceptions. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning
  • CIPD. (2015). Learning and Development Annual survey report. London: Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development.
  • Burke, P.F., Aubusson, P.J., Schuck, S.R., Buchanan, J.D. and Prescott, A.E., (2015). How do early career teachers value different types of support? A scale-adjusted latent class choice model. Teaching and Teacher Education
  • Carliner, Saul, and Patti Shank, (2016) Eds. The e-learning handbook: past promises, present challenges. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.
  • Cheng, B., Wang, M., Moormann, J., Olaniran, B.A. and Chen, N.S., (2012). The effects of organizational learning environment factors on e-learning acceptance. Computers & Education
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