Benefits of E-Learning
If you are new to e-learning or have only tried it on a small scale, expanding its use in your organisation requires careful consideration. Understanding the benefits of e-learning is important in this process.
After all, it’s not like training is new to your organisation. You probably continually run training programmes for new and existing staff and have done so for years.
Also, classroom-based training practices are probably already firmly established, plus you may also use an element of on-the-job training that is proving to be effective.
Some professionals in the training industry talk about e-learning as being disruptive, but do you really need more disruption in your business when dealing with other issues? Issues like Industry 4.0, digital transformation, changing consumer demands, increased competition, and more.
The E-Learning Advantage
E-learning doesn’t have to be disruptive. Instead, it can become part of your existing training strategy, enhancing and improving it. The benefits of e-learning drive those enhancements and improvements.
In addition, e-learning will help your business deal with the changing business and market conditions that many companies are currently dealing with. Even successful companies need to improve agility and flexibility to ensure they remain competitive in the future. E-learning isn’t the answer, of course, but it can be part of the solution.
Finally, e-learning is not a take-it-or-leave-it approach. Instead, there are multiple ways to implement e-learning that combine various training delivery methods, including classroom, on-the-job, and blended learning alongside e-learning.
The Key Benefits of E-Learning
Let’s now drilldown to the main benefits of e-learning to your organisation. We’re going to focus on five:
Using e-learning as a training delivery method breaks the tether that typically exists between the learner and the classroom. This provides learners with a level of flexibility that cannot be achieved with any other training delivery method.
In practice, learners can complete e-learning training modules when it is convenient for them. This could be at home or on the metro on their commute to work, but e-learning is not just about learning at home. It can still be in a workplace setting, on a break, for example, or during a time allocated to training.
Advantages of E-Learning Flexibility
- Greater engagement from learners and improved completion rates.
- Reduced costs as learners complete the course at a time that suits them rather than in a structured course which can often be costly to set-up, particularly at scale or where there are distances involved.
- Improved learner satisfaction rates compared to classroom-based learning, where learners sometimes find it difficult to connect the value of the training to the time lost in relation to their daily responsibilities.
- Training becomes less disruptive to day-to-day operations compared to classroom-based learning.
- Helps develop a learning culture in your organisation, where training and learning become part of the regular workplace routine.
Completing an e-learning module takes less time than classroom-based learning when you take everything into account – arranging the venue, transport to the venue, waiting around for the training to start, unexpected delays, overnight stays, time spent travelling back, etc.
The above is at its worst if the learner has to travel to a different location to complete classroom-based training, but there are also avoidable time delays when learners are in the same building as the classroom.
In fact, learners spend as much as 60 percent less time on training with e-learning compared to classroom-based learning.
There are other efficiency savings with e-learning too. This includes the fact that learners can also proceed at their own pace.
For slower learners, this means they can feel comfortable taking their time and going back over content until they fully understand it. This is much more effective and efficient than sitting bamboozled in a classroom and then spending time later catching up.
Faster learners can also proceed at their own pace, without having to slow down for those less experienced or who don’t have the same level of training.
Advantages of E-Learning Efficiency
- Reduced costs as there is no need for learners or instructors to travel and stay overnight at training locations.
- Maintain levels of productivity as learners spend less time on training and more on their main workplace responsibilities.
- Improved morale as staff will no longer feel the frustration that can occur when work is piling up because they are away at a training course.
- Following on from the above, when learners feel training is conducted efficiently, they will be more satisfied with the process, and they will value the training.
- Improved retention rates and positive learning outcomes as learners can progress through e-learning training modules at a pace that suits the way they learn.
One of the major challenges of classroom-based training is delivering it at scale. If you have a training topic that needs to be delivered to a handful of people who all work in the same location, the process is relatively straightforward.
Relatively is the operative word in that sentence, however, as issues can still arise if, for example, one of the people is off sick on the day the training is due to take place.
Still, training in the above example is as simple as it gets.
What if you need to train hundreds of people across multiple locations, including different cities within the UAE or Saudi Arabia?
What if you need to train thousands across different countries?
The complexity of efficiently and successfully scaling training in the above situations cannot be underestimated. The costs involved are huge, plus there are so many things that can impact the process – the standard of instructors, dissemination of information, accurately communicating objectives, staff availability… the list goes on.
The positive impact of e-learning in the above scenarios is dramatic.
With e-learning, the issue of delivering training across your organisation goes from being a major logistical and organisational challenge to a process that requires a single click of a button.
It doesn’t matter whether your learners are in the office beside yours, working from home in another part of the country, or on a client site on the other side of the world. Wherever your learners are, all they need is a device (phone, laptop, computer, etc) and they will instantly receive the e-learning training module once you click that button.
Training scalability problem – solved.
Advantages of E-Learning Scalability
- Reduced costs are the big one as you don’t need to spend money on travel, accommodation, training the trainers, etc. In fact, scalability is often the main cost-saving factor when implementing an e-learning strategy, particularly with larger corporations operating in multiple jurisdictions.
- Better use of resources as you don’t need to have trainers spending time training the trainers who will train the trainers who will deliver the training to staff. Phew! Just press the button.
- Enhancing training consistency is another advantage of e-learning scalability. This is a point we will get to in more detail in an upcoming section, but, in brief, using e-learning as your training delivery method ensures all learners receive the same standard of training, wherever they are located.
- It follows on from the above that retention rates and learning outcomes will also improve because the scalability of e-learning ensures consistent training standards.
Let’s pause there to highlight another major advantage of e-learning, delivered by all three key benefits that have been discussed so far – return on investment.
Each of the three key benefits mentioned above results in lower costs for the delivery of high-quality training that, in many cases, produces better results than classroom-based training.
All training produced and delivered by your organisation requires investment, whether it is classroom-based training, on-the-job training, or e-learning.
The fact is, you will get a better return on investment by including e-learning in your overall training strategy compared to sticking with traditional forms of training, such as classroom-based training.
Right, back to the key benefits of e-learning.
The LMS (learning management system) that runs your e-learning modules will replace time-consuming and inefficient manual systems, such as keeping training records on a spreadsheet. With an LMS, data collection is automated, so it’s also more accurate than manually recording training activity.
As a result, you will have better oversight over who has completed your training modules. This could be on a micro level where you know when an individual has completed a training module, or a macro level where you know when a full department has completed the required training.
This is helpful for all training topics, but it is particularly beneficial for compliance programmes where you may have to provide evidence of the training you have conducted. This includes compliance training topics where there is a requirement for annual refresher training.
Information on course completions is only part of the trackability benefits of e-learning. Your LMS will also be able to give you additional metrics that you can use to analyse the performance of those completing the course as well as to evaluate the course itself.
This information can become part of your overall assessment of the training initiative in addition to things like observing behavioural change or analysing improvements in performance metrics.
You can also use the information provided by the LMS to identify parts of the course which are not performing as well as they could be. This can help with the development of future e-learning courses, plus you can improve the existing course if you plan to use it again.
Advantages of E-Learning Trackability
- Save time and resources recording and analysing training course activity, progress, and completions.
- Helps with the compliance process in your organisation.
- Gives you a better understanding of the capabilities of learners after they complete the course. This information can feed into your assessment of the success of the course and whether it achieved your objectives.
- Helps with continuous improvement of individual training courses as well as your overall training strategy.
- Provides you with information that you can use to help plan future training initiatives.
Ensuring training consistency is one of the big challenges faced by L&D professionals. In an ideal world, all instructors, trainers, and others responsible for delivering training would operate at the same level and would deliver a consistent standard of training every time. Plus, there would never be any external factors or pressures that could detract from the training experience.
The reality, however, is that the quality of instruction can vary greatly from trainer to trainer. In addition, trainers themselves can have off-days, plus your entire training strategy must cope with the day to day realities of running your business.
A good example is onboarding a new member of staff. In this scenario, the experience of new recruits could be very different depending on the day they start work. One recruit might start on a day where everything is going well for the trainers, with the recruit getting the time and attention they need.
However, another recruit might start on a day where the team is short-staffed or are dealing with an urgent issue. With distracted or under pressure trainers, it is not surprising that this recruit will have a lower-quality onboarding experience than the one mentioned above.
E-learning can go a long way to resolving these training consistency problems. When you create an e-learning module, all members of staff receive the same standard of training, regardless of where they are located or when they complete the training.
Advantages of E-Learning Consistency
- Improve the learning experience for all learners, raising overall learning standards.
- Save time and resources. There are many examples of this, including the one already mentioned, i.e. the new recruit that received the low-quality onboarding experience is at greater risk of resigning. If that happens, you will need to spend additional time and resources finding a replacement.
- Reduce the costs involved in ensuring all trainers perform at an acceptable level.
- Achieve better learning outcomes as retention rates will improve across the board when overall standards improve.
- Raise the standard of your training strategy as L&D professionals can focus on content and achieving learning outcomes rather than resolving consistency gaps.
Benefitting Your Wider Training Strategy
As already mentioned, e-learning is not a choice between: a) abandoning other forms of training to get the benefits described above; or, b) continuing as you are now.
The best approach is to assess each training topic to decide the best method of delivery, taking into account the benefits of e-learning as well as the benefits of other types of training.
One thing is for certain, however, given the scale and scope of e-learning’s benefits – e-learning should be a key part of your training strategy.
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