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The Value and Viability of eLearning Today

Written By Shalini Merugu

The Value and Viability of eLearning Today

In a world increasingly driven by hard business results, organizations have never been more focused on making every dollar count. Most so when it comes to training. With eLearning forming a sizeable chunk of the training spend, it is not surprising that its value and viability is under the microscope like never before.

When eLearning first made its appearance on the business landscape, it met with varied responses – skeptics fought its implementation tooth and nail, while early adopters hailed it as the greatest thing since sliced bread. Now that the dust has settled and the first wave of eLearning is over, we are in a position to take a balanced look at the entire picture and take informed decisions around its implementation.

Nick van Dam, the Chief Learning Officer of Deloitte Consulting, in his book, the e-Learning Fieldbook, sums up the three challenges of eLearning:

  • If we build it, will they come?
  • If they come, will they learn?
  • If they learn, will it matter to the business?

These are exactly the same questions that learning professionals and organizations are asking themselves the world over. Before you dive into any implementation, you need to arrive at satisfactory answers to the above questions. These answers will determine the direction that your entire eLearning implementation will take.

Here are a few facts on the state of eLearning today:

  • Classroom training hasn’t replaced eLearning as was visualized in the early days of eLearning.
  • eLearning practitioners have realized that eLearning is not about technology, it’s about learning, using technology.
  • For eLearning to be successful, it needs to be viewed as a change initiative, with champions across the board.
  • A robust eLearning solutions needs due diligence – investments have to be made in terms of time and money to arrive at solutions that are instructionally sound.
  • Every stage in the eLearning continuum has to be planned thoroughly – from the design to the implementation.

Based on the collective experience of organizations that did indeed adopt eLearning very successfully, here’s what emerges:

  • eLearning continues to have a strong value proposition. It:
    • Provides unlimited reach to learners regardless of their location
    • Is cost-effective
    • Supports business goals and meets the needs of diverse learners
  • Organizations that have tasted success in implementing eLearning initiatives have done so because their eLearning initiatives were aligned with their business goals.
  • eLearning continues to evolve – new models and methodologies continue to emerge to make it an engaging, powerful, and valuable solution for meeting training needs.
  • Most technology integration problems have been overcome by adherence to common industry standards.
  • Learning is in! And not just for survival. Employees globally are eager to develop new knowledge and skills – eLearning provides this opportunity, within learners’ multicultural context.

It is also an undisputed fact that the worldwide corporate eLearning market continues to grow. And grow at a phenomenal rate at that! With businesses wisening up and staying clear of gimmicks, it is evident that there continues to be a strong and compelling business case for eLearning. After all, no smart company would continue to put its money into areas where there are no tangible returns.

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  • Meghan Verheyen

    I really think we should be playing up the fact that, in many ways, eLearning is a “Green” alternative to traditional training. People can login to a training session/course from the comfort of their own homes, or from their workplaces. This means that eLearning reduces the travel associated with traditional training, which in turn reduces emissions.

  • For me (and my clients) it is a cost effective way to deliver content consistently across a geographically dispersed audience.

    In addition, though I am also a fan of ILT, I appreciate that I can ensure the quality of delivery with eLearning – the designer/developer maintains control and is not risking the content to a potentially poor facilitator.

  • M Shalini

    That’s an interesting thought Meghan. I agree that by opting for eLearning, organizations will be reducing their learning footprint and minimizing the environmental impact of their training initiatives.

    In addition to what you said about eLearning cutting down on the need to travel and hence reducing emissions, another big advantage is that it is paper-free. It would be interesting to track or quantify an organization’s usage of paper for classroom trainings for a year! I’m sure if we can get some numbers around
    this and also capture the carbon footprint of an organization sending a geographically dispersed audience for classroom training, it will further help in strengthening the case for adopting eLearning. At least among those organizations that believe in going “Green” .

  • M Shalini

    Jillian, I agree with you that eLearning enables us to bring a high degree of consistency to the quality of the learning delivered. We have seen multiple instances of fluctuating satisfaction levels for an ILT program – with the same content being delivered by different instructors. Unfortunately, even if the learning materials are terrific, if the instructor hasn’t done a good enough job facilitating, it wrongly translates into negative feedback for the entire course. With eLearning, learners are not left to the mercy of poor trainers and we can eliminate the risk of failure by having robust instructional design in place.