eLearning lessons for business and personal success in the digital age

While most people do their business planning around a board table or over a cup of coffee e-learning pioneer Mark Taggart usually gets his best ideas while hanging around – several hundred feet above the ground.

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The Glasgow-based technology entrepreneur is on a mission to help everyone work smarter so they can enjoy a rewarding work-life balance. It is a mantra often quoted by many but achieved by far fewer.

Mark Taggart of Create eLearning

Photograph by: Stewart CunninghamMark Taggart of Create eLearning

“My biggest and best deals and my most creative thinking doesn’t happen in the conventional 9-5 environment. It happens in a pop-up office on the beach, while I’m on a bike, kite-surfing or going cross country on a paraglider,” said the adventurous father of three who maintains that plenty of time to decompress and spend quality time with family and friends is a key ingredient for success.

“If you can be disciplined and learn the art of working smart to achieve the right life balance between work and play it is amazing how more invigorated and innovative you can be.”

Despite the advent of wireless technology, smart phones and personal laptop computers with more power than NASA had to land men on the moon valuable time and resources are wasted every day by businesses and individuals trying to learn how to be more productive and improve skills.

Only in the last few year has e-learning stared to become mainstream. It is now a multi-million pound international industry worth more than £565million a year to the UK economy alone.

According to a report by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) around 74 per cent of companies now use some level of e-learning with 91 per cent of those claiming it a success, especially when in combination with other teaching methods.

E-learning can be a highly cost-effective and efficient way for organisations to improve the quality and quantity of training their workforce.

In addition to lower delivery costs and improved environmental savings a system which allows participants to take courses at their own pace, in their own surroundings and at their own convenience can cut learning time by up to 50 per cent.

British Telecom, for example, switched from classroom training to e-learning and managed to cut their bill for training 23,000 employees from £17.8million to £5.9million and reduced the time taken from five years to three months.

A similar study of multinational audit firm Ernst & Young’s switch to online learning recored a cut is costs of 35 per cent as the company condensed 2,900 hours of classroom training into 700 hours of web-based learning, complimented with 200 hours of distance learning and 500 hours of classroom instruction.

However, while the rapid growth of the sector has been put down to an almost insatiable demand for knowledge management many existing online learning platforms have had their limitations.

“I had seen how difficult some of the existing e-learning platforms were as far as enrolling or setting up courses so I knew I could do better,” said Mark who has a background working with technology innovation companies going back more than 15 years.

In 2010 he had set up a company called Patient Reminders which developed a novel cloud-based messaging and alert system for the clinical trials industry. It was a major success.

Within 18 months of going live the company was acquired by a US technology company and that provided seed funding for his latest project – Create eLearning, a unique online Learning Management System (LMS) platform for instructors, organisations and freelancers.

“Online training has driven me nuts with it’s complexity and cost since 2001. I wanted to change that. Our platform makes it easy for businesses and individuals to create new courses, find ready-made existing ones or hire talented freelances and content creators to collaborate with,” said Mark whose vision, enthusiasm and an infectious energy has helped put the company on a meteoric rise to success.

“Our job is to make the technlogy as simplae as possible so it’s really easy to build courses and for people to take them.

“For those who don’t have the time or feel confifent to build their own courses our platform brings together freelances and creatives who can help.

“Because we have come at it from a different angle and have taken time to look at it from the point of view of users we are growing fast and attracting attention from across the UK and abroad. We can barely cope with demand. The sales pipeline shot from zero to just under £500,000 worth of opportunities in under five weeks.

“We now have small sales offices in New York, San Francisco and Raglan, New Zealand which we are starting to build.”

mark taggart paraglider

Mark, who was born in Aldershot, Hampshire, moved to Scotland in 2007 to work in the renewable energy sector and fell in love with the place.

“I was incredibly lucky in that I ended up living in Glasgow which was only a sort drive away from Troon so i could finish work and be on fantastic beaches kitesurfing throughout the long summer evenings,” said Mark.

“Glasgow is the finest city on the planet. It’s got everything – a great nightlife, fine dining and the friendliest people. I’ve been to quite a few cities around the world but Glasgow beats them all.

“I wouldn’t go anywhere else now to build a business. Scotland is a great place to create something and launch it onto a global marketplace. The availability of office space, good motivated staff and the constructive help on offer from the likes of Scottish enterprise, Entrepreneurial Spark and Global Scots is fantastic.”

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