There are few people whoʼve never used any form of e-learning (including Google and YouTube). Thatʼs a tribute not so much to the value that society places on learning and, specifically, e-learning materials, as to the value it places on technology.
E-learning has been hailed as both the greatest and the worst advance in learning. That debate rests upon the quality of the learning materials and their suitability to the learning challenge theyʼre intended to meet.
Quality and suitability issues aside, e-learning has much to recommend it. Indeed, here are the top 10 things that make e-learning particularly valuable:
Making learning materials available electronically — particularly online — means people can access them almost instantaneously anywhere in the world. These materials are easier and quicker to disseminate than anything delivered via a classroom.
In these days of rapid change affecting business, along with global enterprises with widely geographically dispersed and culturally diverse workforces, the fast delivery of learning materials is a key benefit.
Faster learning results
Some studies suggest that delivering learning online means that learners need significantly less time to learn what they need than if the learning was delivered in a classroom.
Unlike learning in a classroom — e-learners can focus purely on the elements they need to learn. Moreover, they can learn at their own pace — rather than at the pace of a group of learners. In a classroom, the instructor must cater for the needs of every learner, must cover everything on the agenda regardless of whether the learners already know it — and
Faster application of the learning
These days, e-learning is closely allied to performance support. Since the learning materials are available online all the time, learners can access — and re-access – them exactly as, when and where they need the learning that these materials contain.
So, learnersʼ application of that learning is immediate — unlike the typical classroom-delivered course, where it may take learners a long time to apply the learning theyʼve received.
Access to specialists
E-learning provides a way for anyone to access the knowledge, skills and expertise of the worldʼs best exponents or specialists in a particular field. Before the days of e-learning, only the wealthy, privileged or both were able to access, and learn from, the best minds in a particular subject — notably via the top universities. E-learning and other online technologies now make it possible for learners to tap into world-class expertise – and at a much lower cost.
Consistency of message
Unlike human instructors — who can pride themselves on their idiosyncratic presentation skills — e-learning materials provide consistency of content and presentation style. This can be particularly valuable to organisations employing a large number of people — perhaps around the globe.
E-learning materials can provide a consistent approach and message while also catering for cultural diversity — via different language versions of the same materials and taking into account any cultural sensitivities in terms of the way these materials are presented.
Access to vital data
Many e-learning materials focus on imparting information that learners need to know so they can keep their jobs — and their employers need to know that they know, because of the employersʼ compliance and regulatory obligations.
Making this essential learning available via e-learning, distributed via a learning management system (LMS) or learning content management system (LCMS), enables employers to collect the data needed to prove to the authorities that each learner continues to comply with the regulations. This can save employers vast amounts of money and hassle in unlevied fines and court cases that are never brought.
Delivering learning via instructors pressurises employers to ensure that each instructor is always — completely — up-to-date with the latest developments in the material theyʼre teaching, so that the learners are being given the material that they need.
By contrast, e-learning materials can be updated in one ‘central repositoryʼ as and when necessary — eliminating the ‘instructorʼ level in the traditional learning communication chain. Having uploaded the update to an LMS or LCMS, itʼs available to all potential learners, wherever they are. This should provide peace of mind for administrators who must ensure that, for compliance and regulatory purposes, all learners can access the most up-to-date information.
Lower environmental impact
In climate-conscious times when people and businesses are keen to reduce the adverse impact of any activity on the environment, e-learning- compared with classroom-delivered learning – offers an extremely low carbon footprint, ‘greenʼ way of imparting knowledge and skills.
Notably, e-learning reduces the need for a ‘learning centreʼ, along with the accompanying equipment and facilitiesʼ maintenance costs. It reduces the use of paper — for handouts, for example — thus saving trees. Moreover, it drastically reduces the travel and accommodation costs associated with learning.
E-learning should be more about enabling workers to become more knowledgeable, skilled, productive and profitable — rather than being adopted purely because itʼs cheaper to deliver than other approaches to learning. Nonetheless, the costs of developing and delivering e-learning can be extremely competitive. Among other things, this is because e-learning:
- Makes learning materials available to a large potential audience — so the cost of learning materials per learner is dramatically reduced compared with the costs of classroom-delivered learning. And once an update to e-learning materials is uploaded to an LMS or LCMS, itʼs available to all potential learners at no extra cost.
- Saves costs involved in classroom-delivered learning. This includes buying and maintaining classrooms, equipment, instructors, consumables such as paper, travel and subsistence costs and the learnersʼ opportunity costs (their lost productivity from leaving their post to go on the course(s)).
- Materials can be accessed, learned — and applied — more swiftly than knowledge and skills disseminated by a classroom-delivered course. So, the learners become more effective, efficient and productive sooner. This lowers the costs associated with rectifying corporate mistakes and satisfying customer complaints.
eLlearning is popular
Today, everyone seems to own or have access to a number of devices — from laptops to tablets to mobile phones. Any, and all, of these technological devices can be used to deliver learning materials, on demand, as and where required.
For the learner, e-learning is simpler and cheaper than having to re-arrange your commitments so that you can spend time and money attending a classroom-delivered course. E-learning is also likely to be more ‘personalisedʼ — that is, relevant to the particular learnerʼs needs — and itʼll be available as, when and where the learner wants to learn.Tags: Award Winning, eLearning, Implementing Training, Staff Training