Factors that Impact the Amount of Time Learners Need to Complete Online Training

Damian Hehire-learning

10 Factors that Impact the Amount of Time Learners Need to Complete Online Training

One of the biggest barriers to training success is time, i.e., ensuring learners have enough time to complete the course. While the issue of time is common across all learners, it is also variable, as different time-related factors will affect different people in different ways. As a result, it is important to understand the factors that impact the time learners have to complete online training.

By understanding these factors, you can structure, design, and develop your e-learning courses to facilitate the learning experience and make time less of an issue.

The following 10 time-related factors are a good place to start:

Topic Complexity

In general, the more complex the topic, the more time learners will need to complete the course. Ways to mitigate this issue include breaking the course into different modules and working to present the information and concepts so they are as easy to digest as possible.

Concept Familiarity

Learners will often have a certain level of knowledge of the main concepts and ideas being presented in your training course. The level of familiarity that they have will determine how much time they will need to spend going through the training. If they have minimal prior knowledge, they will need more time than if they are already familiar with the topic.

Digital Literacy

Digital literacy and technical capabilities can also impact the speed at which learners can progress through your e-learning courses. Learners who are digitally literate will be able to move through the various sections of the course faster while being able to focus entirely on the content.

Learners with lower levels of digital literacy, on the other hand, will move slower and will have to concentrate not only on the content, but also on the navigation and other technical elements of the course.

Working Hours

Working hours can be another significant factor as not everyone works full-time. For example, a course that will take an hour to complete is likely to have much more of an impact on a 20-hour-a-week worker than a 40-hour-a-week worker as the full-time worker has more scope to find the time that is needed.

Therefore, additional consideration and mitigation measures may need to be put in place for those who work part-time hours.

Language Ability

This point applies if you have workers in different regions, particularly if they speak different languages, or if you have a multi-lingual team. The best solution is to create multi-lingual versions of the course so learners can access the content in their native language.

This is not always possible, however, and means learners might have to complete the course in their second language. This could mean slower progress which should be taken into account.

Device and Internet Access

Access to a suitable device and fast internet connections should not be taken for granted, as they may not be available to all learners all of the time. Solutions include making the course accessible on as many devices as possible and ensuring it is as light as possible to improve download and access speeds.

Management Support

How much buy-in and support do you have for the training course from the supervisors and managers of learners? In most cases, if you have good levels of buy-in, managers will be more inclined to give learners the time they need to complete the course. If managers and supervisors are not fully on board, they may put pressure on learners to work through the training faster than they should, impacting the end result.


Learners with special needs will find it more difficult to progress through training unless accessibility features are included in the design.

Working Location

Distractions can have a significant impact on the time that learners have available to complete online training courses. Distractions can come in many forms, but location is one of the main factors to consider. Working from home can involve fewer distractions, for example, as learners don’t have colleagues walking past their desks and interrupting them when they are working through a training course.


Motivation is another important factor when considering the time learners will need to complete online training. If motivation levels are high, learners are more likely to progress through the course efficiently with minimal wasted time or effort. The opposite is true if learners have low levels of motivation.

Establishing good levels of motivation requires a number of different strategies, including creating a learning culture in the organisation and communicating the benefits of the training to learners. Special focus should be given to the benefits to learners rather than just the benefits to the organisation.

Respecting the Time of Learners

Central to all the points above is the need to respect the time of learners.

Training courses can be critical to the success of your organisation and to ensure ongoing competitiveness, compliance, and profitability. Therefore, there is a temptation to simply create online training courses and set an expectation that learners complete them. This is generally not the way to get the best results.

The best approach is to take into account the various factors that can impact the time learners need to complete online training. By doing this, you will improve the learning experience, achieve your training goals, and get a better return on investment.