As any learning and development professional will confirm, workforce training is one of the most vital business investments a company can make. Without a well-trained workforce, a business simply can’t remain competitive in this dynamic and rapidly changing environment. At the same time, pressure has never been greater to reduce costs and maximize the effectiveness of training programs; which is where e-learning enters the picture.
To most professionals involved in employee learning and development, the benefits of e-learning are obvious – it saves time and money, is flexible and scalable, allows for on-demand training, offers better retention, can be customized for individuals or departments, and much more. However, the initial cost of incorporating an e-learning solution can be reason for hesitation from those in charge of the training purse strings. And that’s not the only reason for push-back from decision-makers.
The choice to implement a new type of training (or any new technology) carries with it a measure of risk. Not that the project won’t succeed, but that the ROI won’t be there. So it often comes down to weighing the risks against the incredible potential this technology offers, with the ultimate goal of getting the boss on-board with e-learning.
What is E-Learning?
The first step in the process is to define exactly what is meant by e-learning. Often, even knowledgeable folks have an archaic or misinformed concept of modern e-learning. Depending upon when they were first exposed to the concept, they may remember computer-based training modules that were little more than electronic study guides. As we know, e-learning has come a long way since then.
Modern e-learning involves the implementation of various forms and styles of knowledge transfer. It uses computer-based delivery mechanisms to teach concepts visually and kinesthetically rather than just aurally. It can also provide a customized training approach based on a learner’s demonstrated skills and understanding. It’s this radical flexibility that makes e-learning so powerful and compelling.
Benefits and Uses of E-Learning
We've already mentioned some of the long-term benefits of e-learning, such as reduced training costs, improved learner retention, ease of delivery and scalability. Let’s now list a few specific examples of where e-learning can add value to any company’s training program.
- Easier measurement of learner progress.
When implemented alongside a Performance Management System and/or Learning Management System, e-learning becomes an effective way to measure overall training progress, and the efficacy of each training module a learner completes.
- Individualized needs assessments.
E-learning can be used to determine the appropriate level of training for each individual, based upon assessments that can branch out in response to answers given. Training can then be tailored to the learner as needed.
- Reinforcement of concepts.
E-learning can be designed in a way that reviews and reinforces the concepts that have preceded it. This is sometimes called ‘spacing’ or performance support, and it uses terminology or concept repetition to help a learner retain often complex ideas.
This uses game mechanics to engage a learner. Leader boards, badges and achievements are an excellent way to show progress, engage the learner, promote friendly competition, provide immediate feedback and much more.
- Anytime Delivery.
One of the biggest advantages of e-learning is the ability for the learner to access it any time, and from anywhere, should the course be set up so. Learners can also return to a lesson and review it if they need to and use as a performance support piece.
An E-Learning Success Story
The intersection of technology and advances in training techniques have led to e-learning opportunities not even imagined just a few years ago. A quick example; a sales rep for a medical device company opens the latest e-learning module from his company before boarding a flight. He settles in and proceeds through the training course while in-flight, taking the self-assessments along the way.
Upon landing he checks his mobile device to see what other reps are saying on the company discussion board. He posts a question about one of the concepts he was unclear on, and a training professional from his company responds in real time. On his way to the sales meeting he reviews the product specs and once again takes the e-learning course knowledge assessment – this time getting all the answers correct.
Welcome, to one vision of e-learning.
To remain competitive in today's rapidly evolving environment, businesses invest time and money in workforce development. To keep the workforce in the know and on top of their game, many companies are turning to e-learning. E-Learning is a great way to keep employees educated, engaged and entertained, while also boosting knowledge retention and offering a great performance support resource.