Is Six Sigma e-Learning Effective?

Is Six Sigma e-Learning Effective?

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Comments 18

  1. Joselin S Sams

    I think that this is a great post. Last week I trained 40 employees on the Six Sigma basics (Yellow Belt level). They are taking their exams as we speak, so I will keep you posted on the outcome to see if the training was effective. I do however feel as a BB, which no matter how the outcome pervades my opinion as a professional is that the online Six Sigma training will only be effective at the basic Six Sigma (Yellow Belt level). I don’t see how Green Belt or Black Belt would be as beneficial as in class.

  2. Scott Ahrens

    I have to agree with Joselins comment. E-learning can be a great tool for companies to use but it has its place. I have been involved in the training of many White, Green and Black Belts over the past years and do not think that you can get a Green or Black belt trained effectively without a live instructor. As a Master Black Belt I think that Green and Black Belts need the human interactions, real life examples that are related to the individual, real time question discussion, etc during the training process. We do not have the technology at this time to allow e-learning systems to be that interactive in their training.

  3. Gary

    Thanks for the comments Joselin and Scott, it seems that the topic of on-line certification sparks debate among BB’s and GB’s. I do feel a basic understanding of the methodology can be achieved through e-learning, but certification? Given my own BB experience I can’t see how it would work effectively. The classroom interaction and instructor make for two dynamics that would be difficult to achieve on-line, unless… it might work were a Net-Meeting type class was held, whereby you learn in an international virtual classroom, with others all on line with an instructor. Could make for a real diverse class… Maybe?


  4. Russell Clark

    Interesting blog – I agree that GB / BB training using e-learning does not have a lot of value added components for the candidate. I have had requests in the past to train via distance education methods but do not believe it is effective at developing a quality Lean / Six Sigma practitioner.
    I would question the benefit of this style of training in an online system, even with a virtual instructor. Project support and actual project work should be considered mandatory for GB / BB and above levels of training.
    It is amazing how many people will sign up to save a few dollars and how many new and established training companies will promote e-learning to clients.

  5. Bill

    The subject of e-Learning is way overdue for an informed discussion based on DATA . I am amazed that Six Sigma professionals who would never evaluate a new process method using only intuition will draw conclusions about alternate training methods without any facts.

    Here’s a start: recently, the U.S. Department of Defense funded a meta-analysis of 96 different studies comparing the effectiveness of e-Learning to classroom training. The data indicate that asynchronous e-Learning is either equally or more effective than classroom-based instructor-led training. The studies covered a wide range of course subjects, not all comparable to Six Sigma, but the e-Learning advantage was actually more pronounced for the longer courses of greater complexity.

  6. Richard Guberman

    I would think that a classroom environment has to be better than e-learning.

    My question is how do you go about taking the courses for green/black belts when your company is not interested in six-sigma but you are looking to advance your skills/career?

  7. Gary

    My thought would be to possibly exercise the skill in a non-work environment, like with a community group or with a church group. Many of these organizations may have never considered how their ’processes’ could be improved, especially through tools of Six Sigma and the DMAIC methodology. This approach would help your proficiency with the tools.

    You would still need to have the training, but at least you would have a project.

    With regards to your company not being interesed in Six Sigma, I feel you need a small ’win’ to demonstrate the power of the tools and methodology. Give thought to what that might be, obtain the support of a couple of co-workers and tackle a specific department issue where you work, and address that issue with the Six Sigma tools.

    I hope that helps.


  8. Richard Guberman

    I am not concerned with a project because I know that I could create one from the work I do in my office. My problem is trying to figure out if I can take a night class for green/black belts. I have not found any and I think my only alternative is to take a week off from work which is difficult or sign up for e-learning. If I have to e-learn can you recommend a reputable company.


  9. Gary

    I do not have the information you’re looking for however, I suggest that you check out the iSixSigma website further and other sites that offer night classes for learning…
    Some colleges or Univesities websites may help. – an example is this one (first one that came up on google):

    It’s a starting place…

    Good Luck,

  10. Joe


    Gary is right about colleges and universities. I live in Ventura, CA and drive to Westwood,CA for a UCLA extension class in Six Sigma (part of a Manufacturing Engineering certificate program). I currently have a Green Belt certificate.

    Good Luck,

  11. Shelley

    I’m pretty much in the same boat as Richard. But I have come to the conclusion that the value of being certified seems to out weigh where the certification came from. As long as it is true to the six-sigma methodology. As with anything in life, practice makes perfect. Am I to understand that if I get my certification on-line, use it to get a better position in my career, and truly apply the principles that I learned I will be less of a black belt or a lesser black belt than one that got his training in a classroom setting? It really doesn’t matter because my circumstances will only allow me to get certified through e learning. But I do want to know that this is a good method of obtaining my certification. I don’t want to be short changed. And I’d like to a consensus on whether or not an e-learn certification better than none at all?

  12. Shelley

    Charlie. I’m going with It uses the same textbook as many other University six sigma classes but the cost is considerably less. It’s self-paste and requires a lot of reading. But the cost is a fraction of those "8 hour a day for two weeks" crash classroom courses. You do get 12 credit hours with Villanova. That’s a big plus. But you pay for it.

    I like the "black belt snobs" line. Maybe for some people and their learning styles, only a classroom setting will do. But e learning is very efficient. And has been proven to be effective for many people. People use to say that email was too impersonal. And the majority consensus was that on line banking and shopping was not safe. Now most of us can’t live without these. We are in an online era. And although I’m no spring chicken, I’m desperately working hard to keep up on the latest and greatest. And the Internet is my best ally.

  13. Charlie

    Shelley I share your questions. Is it of value to have the certification? Or are there black belt “snobs” who believe you must go to a classroom? Are companies going to hire someone with on-line certification? I will spend the money but I don’t want to waste the money. Isn’t that the reason for Six Sigma? To avoid waste?

    Does anyone know if there is a cheaper price than Villanova? Does it give you the same training? The company that takes the enrollment sounds like they have some slick sales people on the other end of the phone.

  14. Rick

    Hi all,

    Great comments, let me add some more.

    First of all there is no such thing as an official Yellow, Green or Black Belt Certification, because the standards for such a certification are not even set out.

    Secondly, I think E-learning is great, but not for teaching things like 6 Sigma methodology. I was blessed to get a four week 6 Sigma Black Belt course and I think it more than paid off. When E-learning you don’t have direct answers to any questions that arise during the learning process. You have to wait until someone answers these questions. When following the course this is far more direct.

    Thirdly, I do agree 100% with the statement that your piece of paper isn’t worth anything. It shows that you have followed a course and you showed that you could answer questions that are asked to you correctly. It doesn’t show that you are going to become a good Black Belt or whatever ’Belt’ you studied for. You become a good ’Belt’ by gaining practice experience.

    Sorry if this comes out to be harsh for some people, but that is an opinion and as far as I know we live in a free world where everyone can speak freely. Something you should learn to accept when working as a Black Belt and leading teams of specialists who all have to have there saying in the solution of your problem.

    So in the end I would go for the real thing, no E-learning. It’s worth the money and as someone said it is not throwing away money. By the way Six Sigma is not only about savings…

  15. Michael Webb

    As far as certification classes that are less expensive, I know of one company that is focused on offering certification classes to individuals who need it to improve their ability to get employed. In fact, it was founded by a fellow who found himself in that position, couldn’t find anything reasonable, and did something about it. He’s been in business for several years now, and has lots of very referenceable clients. His name is Bill Bentley, and his url is Might be worth a look.

  16. Keith Eaton

    Here’s what really works at the Green Belt level.

    Ten modules of learning with simple examples presented in a multi-media web based format.

    Four or five mandatory in class lecture sessions with a Black belt instructor.

    4-5 Open sessions for project mentoring sessions, make-up work, revisiting problem areas.

    Chat sessions and email support.

    Very successful.

  17. Ane


    I work for a small, growing company where the owner feels strongly about incorporating Lean/Six Sigma practices into the business. I have a "home grown" ability to identify process efficiency, but no formal training. We are a service provider; I am responsible for managing our implementation and operations teams.

    I’d like to improve my skills and Lean/Six Sigma seem the way to go. However, I’m leery of paying a lot of money to attend just any random program out there and I don’t have anyone to ask for recommendations. I’m also an impatient class attendee — most in-class lectures don’t move at a fast enough pace for me.

    I love Keith Eaton’s idea of combining e-learning and classroom training — really, best of both worlds. That way, I can go as fast or slow as I need to learn the basics, with the in-person interaction that is quite valuable. Should be more cost-effective, too. (I can’t help it, I’m also a CPA and hate to spend money if it’s not necessary!)

    This isn’t much information up front, but are there any recommendations out there for a suggested certification level for me (overview, yellow/green/black belts)? What are some recommended programs and providers?

    Thank you ahead of time — I’ve already combed this site and, while I didn’t find the answer I need, I’m impressed with the knowledge of others who are blogging here.


  18. Olga Zaman

    l am very excited. Excellent idea. looking forward.

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