E-learning has lured many organizations in the recent past with its extended benefits such as cost effectiveness, flexibility, accessibility and more.
According to recent data published by CertifyMe.net on the state of e-learning in corporate education: 72% of organizations interviewed believe that e-learning is providing them competitive advantage by continuing to keep them on top of changes in their particular market.
Despite delivering its promise of being the paragon of the learning industry, according to Elearning! Magazine, May 2013, only 41.7% of the global Fortune 500 Companies used technology during formal learning hours last year. Why are less than 50% of companies shifting from traditional learning methods to e-learning techniques for employee training? What might be the reasons compelling the remaining companies not to shift? Are these reasons valid? The following might be some of the reasons attributing to this uncertainty and some solutions to give the required push for the companies to shift to online training.
Unsure about the productivity of E-learning
One reason is uncertainty regarding the productivity of e-learning. Many organizations believe instructor led training is more productive than online training as it includes live demonstrations, group discussions and increased interaction between employees. To some extent it is true that some types of trainings are more effective when given through instructor led training. For example, trainers of the chemical industry repeatedly state that training on hazardous waste operations wouldn’t be productive if e-learning is employed to deliver it, as it requires practical demonstrations and simulations. Another example would be sales skills training which requires a lot of practice, role play, group discussions and demonstrations which wouldn’t be effective when given through e-learning.
Likewise, some areas are best covered using e-learning techniques such as product training. Due to the constant release and updates of products in an organization, planning training with an instructor would be strenuous and time consuming. Employing e-learning here would benefit the organization by providing the same quality training using less money and time. Another example would be compliance training where e-learning can be more interactive and efficient compared to traditional training.
Companies which can effectively allocate the training methodologies depending on the training type and combine both these technologies when necessary would boost the productivity of their training. Also, employing e-learning for training wherever necessary has actually increased the productivity and proven to be more effective.
According to a recent study, e-learning can help companies boost productivity by 50%. Every $1 spent in e-learning results in $30 of productivity.
In fact, IBM, after rolling out an e-learning program for managers, found that participants learned nearly five times more material without increasing the time spent training. (Article: eLearning Success- measuring the ROI impact and benefits, May 2013)
Employing an IT support department is costly
Another reason is the usage of e-learning training techniques requires investing in information technology systems. As most of the learning is done on computers, there would not only be investment costs but also maintenance costs. In order to keep the online systems running, most organizations need to house an IT support department.
This is considered a problem by the sectors that are not as tech savvy as others. These sectors especially dismiss the employment of an IT support department. For instance, there is the manufacturing sector where the main focus is on meeting productions and achieving shipping goals.
It is mandatory in today’s world to be on par with technology irrespective of the area of work, which is impossible without the inclusion of information technology support. A more economical alternative would be outsourcing the IT support. Fortunately, due to the advent of technology and usage of computers in all areas, most of the organizations today have an IT support department, irrespective of the methodology they use to train their employees.
Budget for training
The budget allocated to deploy online training is another top reason for concern among some companies. The resources and the money used to create online training content are more compared to traditional training. Though the initial costs are more, the return on investment is very high with training through e-learning when compared to instructor led training.
According to a recent metric where they calculated and compared the ROI, costs and time required for classroom training and online training, the latter resulted in faster ROI, 68% saving and far less time required to impart the training.
In the long run, e-learning would be cost-effective and more flexible than traditional learning. Comparatively, traditional training budgets include travel expenses, skilled instructors, planning and more which would not be an issue with e-learning, making it cheaper and easier to implement. Therefore, looking at the long term effect e-learning has, the initial costs should be considered as a good investment.
Updating the courses
One more reason is due to the constant release of new updates, training employees and keeping them up to date with the new information is mandatory. For this to work, an online training system needs to be updated and delivered accordingly.
Updating the information of e-learning training courses would not pose any problem to the organizations with their own instructional designers. This is because whenever new content is updated, the designers could embed the new content and deploy the course easily. For organizations that resort to third party vendor services for creating their e-learning courses, updating the content gets easier because of the use of authoring tools such as Articulate Storyline.
But using instructor led training in these cases would do more damage than using an online training course. Why? Organizing a training session and hiring an instructor every time there is an update would not only burn large hole in the budgets but also get time consuming. Therefore, updating the courses and training through e-learning is easier and cheaper when compared to traditional training.
HR support and efficiency in adopting the technology
In large organizations where the HR department handles the learning needs of the employees, shifting from traditional training to online training can prove to be challenging. HR departments that generally oversee the instructor based training would be reluctant to shift to e-learning because this might involve adapting to a lot of things such as implementing an LMS, choosing a good third party vendor and more. It involves a huge process of organizing and planning to change the old learning process to a new one. It involves changing not only the techniques but also the manpower, time and budget.
The good news is that e-learning requires fewer amount of manpower. The time and budgets required for e-learning are far less when compared to traditional or instructor led training. This makes shifting to it more convenient.
Reduced learning times – Brandon-Hall Study, reported that e-learning typically requires from 40% to 60% less employee time than the same material delivered in a traditional classroom setting.
Not suitable for complex projects needing live demonstrations
Some areas of training require live demonstration for better understanding from the employees’ point of view. A major misconception is that training through e-learning requires complex and costly simulations in order to replace or produce the same effect as that of live demonstrations. E-learning comes with a feature of embedding videos. Live demonstrations, whenever required, can be delivered in the form of videos. Combining the traditional and online training methods could prove to be beneficial in these scenarios. Also, many e-learning tools have made the process of creating visually appealing simulations easy and in less time. These can be embedded cost effectively into the e-learning course material used for training the employees.
According to Facts, Figures and Forces Behind e-Learning – August, 2000, with e-learning, students have more control over their learning process and can better understand the material, leading to a 60% faster learning curve, compared to instructor-led training.
Finding, learning and implementing LMS – costly and hard
In order to maintain, organize, track and use e-learning courses effectively, organizations take the help of LMS (Learning Management System) software. Depending on the scale of an organization, learning and implementing an LMS can be challenging. Though initially organizations need to invest some time and money in order to learn and use the LMS software, the benefits reaped from it in the long run are huge. An LMS investment would result in big returns. These reasons attribute to its growing popularity and usage.
Recent statistics estimate that the LMS industry will grow by 23.17% between the years 2017 and 2018. Currently, it is a $2.5 billion industry in the corporate sector without calculating the revenue from the academic sector as well.
Moreover, LMSs would make tedious tasks such as planning, organizing and tracking the progress of employees easy. It is hard to organize and plan the entire training process manually. Using an LMS would make that job easy and worthily benefit the time and money of an organization.
Interest of the employees
Another reason for not switching to online training might be the misconception that training employees using e-learning courses would result in them being bored. Employees would complete the training course just for the sake of it, not gaining the intended knowledge. Firstly, the presence of an instructor is not a measurable index for the interest and consistency of the employees. E-learning offers employees the ease to learn in the comfort of their homes. It offers a self-paced learning where employees can access information at short intervals of time instead of attending long hours of instructor led trainings. Secondly, with e-learning courses, an organization can provide incentives which can motivate the employees to learn further. Many statistics show e-learning to be more effective and productive.
Towards Maturity Report, 2012, shows 35% improvement in time competency, 32% faster roll out of new IT systems, 32% improvement in ability to introduce new products and services, 26% overall cost saving.
E-learning also provides the feature of tracking the progress of employees which is beneficial to organizations.
Less retention of information
Yet another reason behind a few companies not adopting e-learning techniques for employee training might be the delusion that employees would retain less information from the courses. This is a fallacy because e-learning courses are available all the time and the employee can go back and refer to the missed content. Refresher trainings are available for the same purpose which could be adopted by the organizations.
According to e-Learning – A Strategy for Maximizing Human Capital in the Knowledge Economy Research Institute of America found that the e-learning experience increases the retention rate 25-60%! This is due to the student having control over the learning process as well as providing them with an opportunity to revisit the training as needed, which is ideal for infrequent users.
Importance of training in an organization
On some level, the priority given to the training in an organization also plays a role in this process. If an organization doesn’t give much weightage to the process of training its employees, then it won’t adopt new and fast methodologies to do it. Regardless of what methodology is used to train the employees, training plays an important role in an organization, big or small. Training given to the employees reflects their efficiency and skill. The efficiency of its employees determines the direction in which an organization grows. Hence, if an awareness of the importance of training is created in organizations, then they would also hopefully check out the benefits of shifting from traditional training to e-learning to train their employees.
Some organizations still dig the old-school methods and don’t feel the need to shift to new technologies. This could be yet another simple reason for not shifting from traditional training to online training methods to train employees.
On the whole, adopting e-learning techniques to train the employees of an organization, though requires initial investments, would result in many benefits. The benefits are both short term and long term such as the reduction in the costs, saving of the time, tracking of the employees and more.