First of all I would like to clarify some of the main topics related to elearning. The whole concept of elearning, which is relatively new, is based on a much older concept: distance learning. Distance learning consists of a scenario in which the learner is not face to face with the teacher or the trainer.
So basically elearning is the modern - and technologically enhanced way - to approach distance learning. In fact it is now possible to leverage a lot of extremely interesting and useful tools such as Learning Management Systems, online videos, video-conferencing apps, forums, reports and a lot more in order to boost training performance.
As with many things in life, elearning has its benefits and drawbacks, but in this case it’s extremely important to perform a careful analysis as the future of your company or training program and a lot of money is at stake - and will rely on the success, or failure, of your L&D activities. (If you want to know why, you can check this SlideShare on “Why is Learning & Development so important”).
I will now present a few of the challenges that you may face, but remember that all of the following must take into account your company culture or particular audience:
- Lack of human contact
The “e” stands for electronic. As you know elearning is delivered through computers, and lately also via mobile devices. Especially if you are not using video-conferencing apps, the learner might find this kind of training alienating. The human being is by nature a social being so taking away all forms of interactions with other people might be a demotivating factor for some users.
If you have been in this industry for just some time, you will notice that a lot of articles and discussions are focused on how to engage and motivate students. In fact one of the main problems related to elearning is the high “mortality” of learners as they often seem to lose motivation because online classes are boring.
- Lack of focus
When studying in class there’s not much distraction (well… other than each other!). On the other hand when studying at home it’s so much easier to lose focus as no one is actually watching you and you have all your personal items within your reach.
On the other hand Learning Management Systems and elearning can offer a lot of interesting opportunities. Here’s a few:
One of the greatest things about elearning is that the software and technology can easily evolve according to new pedagogical theories. Everyone is talking about Gamification and learners are asking for it? - no problem. You just need to develop a new module in your training platform and instantly get all the benefits to all your learners.
- Mobile Learning
As I mentioned before, nowadays elearning can be delivered also via mobile devices. This means that people can start learning pretty much everywhere, any time they want. Learners can take courses during their morning commute to their workplace by simply bringing their smartphones along with them!
In order to gather useful information, and data you can actually use, you have to be extremely precise while reporting by using standards and a unified approach. Thanks to modern technologies it’s extremely easy to automatically create reports that fit your needs, no matter how many learners you’re trying to evaluate.
Obviously it’s important to get reports right away, but it’s also very important to keep your data and reports in a place where you will be able to retrieve them at any time for future analysis and history tracking. Say no to huge paper folders that can easily get lost or ruined. It’s now time to leverage databases and online storage to keep your learner’s records in a permanent and easy to browse organizational system.
In this blog post I tried to highlight some of the features that I like the least and most about elearning. I believe that this kind of technology enables people to achieve new goals and explore new possibilities (and therefore be their very best) but I do realize that some audiences or corporate cultures may not adapt very well to this approach because of the challenges I mentioned earlier.