Affiliated Organization

University of Amsterdam, Netherlands


For more than forty years many organisations have trained theiremployees by using the concept of action learning. In action learningsmall and stable groups work together at realorganisational problems with no easily identified solutions. Duringthe process of problem solving the learning process is as much a goalas the finding of solutions. In contrast, e-learning (electroniclearning) is a more recent phenomenon. In this working paper wediscuss the relationship between both forms e-learning and actionlearning. A fundamental question we try to answer is whether it ispossible to apply e-learning in action learning, a concept with astrong emphasis on personal contact, communication and mutuallearning. And should the answer be positive, then in what waye-learning supports action learning.In this paper, we describe the application of e-learning by BOSNO, anorganization with more than thirty years experience in the field ofaction learning. BOSNO is a collaborative effort between several Dutchcompanies, which have pooled their resources to educate jointly theirmiddle management and staff. Recently BOSNO has experimented withe-learning environment in its international program. After thedescription of the lessons learned by BOSNO, we try to draw sometentative conclusions on whether, and to what extent, e-learning canplay a role as learning environment in communication-rich learningconcepts, such as action learning. The BOSNO experience shows thate-learning is a useful support for action learning. An interestingfinding is that asynchronous communication in the e-learningenvironment appears to offer several advantages, whereas synchronouselectronic communication is less appreciated by both the programmanager as the participants. Further research on the relation betweene-learning and other learning concepts and especially betweene-learning and communication is recommended.