Technology has revolutionized business; Now it must revolutionize learning.
In the 21st century, people need to learn more than ever. For global organizations in particular, face-to-face training is becoming too expensive and cumbersome. Even if employees had the time to attend all the courses and seminars, and read all the books and reports they needed to stay current in their field, the cost of such learning would be prohibitive. The need to transform the way organizations learn points to a more modern, efficient and flexible alternative: eLearning. Corporate eLearning’s mission is to provide the workforce with an up-to-date and cost-effective program that produces motivated, skilled and loyal knowledge workers.
Anywhere, anytime, anyone.
The Internet can provide the logical solution to a company’s education and training goals. About 80% of working people already use computers at work. Technical hurdles such as access, standards, infrastructure and bandwidth will no longer be an issue in a few years. The growth of the World Wide Web, high-performance enterprise networks, and high-speed desktop computers will make learning available to people around the world 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This allows companies to easily and conveniently distribute training and important information to multiple locations. Employees can then access training whenever it suits them, at home or in the office.
Significant cost savings due to the elimination of travel expenses.
When delivered through technology-based solutions, training is more cost-effective per end-user due to scalable distribution and the elimination of high salaries for trainers and consultants. The greatest benefit of eLearning, however, is that it eliminates the expense and inconvenience of bringing teachers and students together in one place. According to Training Magazine, companies save between 50% and 70% when they replace instructor-led training with electronic content delivery. Choosing eLearning also means courses can be broken up into shorter sessions and spread out over several days or weeks, so the company doesn’t lose an employee for days at a time. Employees can also increase their productivity and use their own time more efficiently because they no longer have to travel or fight rush hour traffic to get to class.
Just-in-time access to up-to-date information.
Web-based products allow instructors to instantly update lessons and materials across the network. This keeps content fresh and consistent, and students have instant access to the most up-to-date data. Information can be retrieved before it is needed instead of being learned once in the classroom and then forgotten. Training Magazine reported that technology-based training has been shown to provide 50-60% better learning consistency than traditional classroom learning (c-learning).
Higher retention of content through personalized learning.
Technology-based solutions leave more room for individual differences in learning styles. They also offer a high level of simulation that can be tailored to the learner’s ability level. With 24×7 access, students can learn at their own pace and review course material as many times as needed. By being able to adapt the learning material to their own needs, students have more control over their learning process and are better able to understand the material, resulting in a 60% faster learning curve compared to instructor-led training. The provision of content in smaller units, so-called “chunks”, further contributes to a more sustainable learning effect. While the average content retention rate for an instructor-led course is only 58%, the deeper eLearning experience increases the retention rate by 25-60%.1 Greater retention of material adds value to every dollar spent on training.
Improved collaboration and interactivity between students.
In times when small, teacher-led classes are the exception, electronic learning solutions can offer more collaboration and interaction with experts and peers, and a higher success rate than the live alternative. Teaching and communication techniques that create an online interactive environment include case studies, storytelling, demonstrations, role plays, simulations, streamed videos, online references, personalized coaching and mentoring, discussion groups, project teams, chat rooms, email, bulletin boards, tips , tutorials, FAQs and wizards.
Distance learning can be more stimulating and encourage more critical thinking than traditional large, teacher-led classes because it allows for the kind of interaction that is best done in small groups. Studies have shown that students who participate in online courses tend to be more deeply engaged than in a traditional course because of the discussions they engage in.2 This engagement is further facilitated by the fact that the lecturers do not monopolize attention in an online environment. Another study found that online students had more peer contact with others in the class, enjoyed it more, spent more time on classwork, understood the material better, and performed 20% better on average than students studying in the traditional classroom became .
Online training is less intimidating than instructor-led courses.
Students taking an online course enter a risk-free environment where they can try new things and make mistakes without exposing themselves. This trait is especially valuable when trying to learn soft skills like leadership and decision-making. A good tutorial shows the consequences of students’ actions and why they went wrong. If they fail, students can go back and try again. This type of learning experience eliminates the embarrassment of failing in front of a group.
With all of these benefits of online instruction, it’s hard to imagine why anyone would choose to attend a lecture to learn new information. There are free online courses on a variety of topics. Just start surfing, find one you like and start learning!
1 Jack E Bowsher, “Revolutionizing Workforce Performance: A Systems Approach to Mastery,” 1998; D. Völker, Presentations Plus, 1992; Training Magazine, 1998.
2 Greg Kearsley, A Guide to Online Education, 1997; Dennis A. Trinkle, “Distance learning: a means to an end, no more, no less,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, 1999; Colin McCormack and David Jones, “Building a Web-based Education System,” 1997.
Thanks to Karen L. Jones