With the introduction of computer and technology in the 20th century, the process of accessing information took a momentous turn. The very first online learning systems were used in schools, but it was only in the 2000s when the corporate world realized the potential benefits of e-learning for employee training. Fast forward to the present (a good 17 years) and online learning or web-based learning is – without sounding prudish – everywhere.
But why is it “everywhere”?
What does e-learning offer that other strategies don’t?
To answer these questions, I am going to take help of something that’s as popular (and fun) as e-learning – Memes, of course. Here, we will paint a picture about online learning, and expose the various characteristics that make it a good, all-round choice for corporate training.
Let’s jump right in.
1. Faster Delivery of Training Content
A key advantage of e-learning, when you compare it to traditional ILT-based learning, is that it has a faster delivery cycle. Because everything happens online, training resources are quickly distributed to the learners. In contrast, the delivery mechanism in classroom-based training has a big limitation – the ability to deliver training resources quickly is restricted due to the availability of limited number of classrooms and trainers.
Faster delivery of resources means that learners need not travel to and from training events. Also, learners set their own pace and can focus on a particular topic/subject they need to learn.
2. 24×7 Access to Training Resources
Traditional learning events require learners to align their schedule according to the training calendar. With e-learning, learners have 24×7 access to the training resources which they can access anytime, anywhere. They continue to have access to the online content and resources (in the form of performance support) to brush-up on what they have learned.
24×7 access to learning resources come in handy when your learners are on the move, working in the field. Take the job of a sales team for example. Handling customer objections and staying on par with the customer’s knowledge of a product dictate the fate of a sales pitch. Continuous access to their training guides means they can brush-up on their sales skills even when they are away from the classroom.
3. Need Not Worry About Paper-Based Resources
E-learning literally opens doors to many unique features that no other form of instruction can. Like I mentioned earlier, e-learning delivers content entirely through electronic means (the ‘e’ in e-learning stands for electronic). Paper-based resources are bulky and cumbersome to carry around, and there is always a possibility of losing them. Unlike in classroom where students take assessments on paper, e-learning removes the need for paper altogether. What’s more? If you host your assessments on an LMS, you can even generate online reports on the learners’ performance.
4. Ideal If You’re on a Tight Budget
Online or not, it’s a widely-accepted fact that it takes time to produce learning content of the highest quality. Online learning, if done right, can decrease the training costs drastically.
For instance, let’s say you want to train your learners on how to handle equipment in a sterile environment such as an operating room. If you had to use a real environment, it would burn a hole in your pocket. Setting-up a mock milieu incurs cost and labor. On the other hand, if you create the environment online and let your learners practice, you may never have to worry about the set-up and maintenance.
5. Leverage Both ILT and e-Learning with Blended Learning
If you don’t want to jump on the e-learning bandwagon completely and want to retain your existing instructor-led training strategy, analyze the components of your classroom training which can be better implemented through online learning.
Quite often, blended learning is seen as an overload of information, with a messy mix of instructor-led classes, self-study courses, corporate library resources and various seminars and conferences. You can be smart and leverage e-learning in ways that it complements and not replaces the traditional classroom training.
To learn more about blended learning, check out this wonderful resource.
6. Online Learning is Fun
Many think “fun” does not have a place in corporate training. Teaching children might incorporate more playfulness, but the truth is, adults like to enjoy themselves too. They are more likely to learn well if they enjoy a learning experience. Online learning, with its various learning strategies such as storytelling, not only keeps the learner hooked, but also offers a rich and rewarding experience. Now fun doesn’t mean the learning process can be based merely on fun; E-learning is still a formal way of learning.
In the 1980s, Tom Malone and Mark Lepper portrayed computer games as profoundly persuading because they enthused engagement in an otherwise tedious work environment, also allowing learning through enquiry, all while striving for mastery. They recommended that a traditional approach in e-learning is to include a touch of fun, as opposed to planning learning encounters to encourage the joy of learning, where the learning procedure itself is fun.
7. It’s the Future of Learning
A couple of decades ago, it was highly unlikely that anybody would have imagined the kind of impact Internet has today, let alone MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and Virtual Reality (VR). There was a time when the computers seemed removed from the classroom. Nowadays, you barely see training happening without electronic means. This only means one thing: as technology spreads and evolves, e-learning is only going to become ubiquitous. E-learning has taken various forms – Mobile Learning, Video-based learning, Gamification, Virtual Reality – while the objective remains the same, to offer learning in more interesting and exciting ways. It is an undeniable fact that e-learning is the changing face of learning and is here to stay.
These are only some of the advantages or “features”, if you may, of e-learning. When done rightly, online learning has the potential to transform the way you offer training to your employees.