eLearning is often misunderstood as training that’s simply delivered online. And, while that’s technically true, the spectrum of eLearning is so much more than a paper manual or classroom-delivered PowerPoint presentation converted to searchable online modules.
Understanding the true scope of eLearning requires a deeper look into how it works and how that translates to smarter, savvier, and more productive learners. Whether you’re hoping to incorporate more eLearning into your existing programs or thinking about starting from scratch, knowing the advantages of taking your learning outside of the traditional training room or operations manual will give you a better idea of how your learners can benefit from the switch.
One of the most obvious benefits of eLearning is a reduction in costs when compared to traditional training methods. In-person training is expensive: add up paying for an instructor, travel time, time off work, and even the cost of physical training materials like workbooks, and it’s easy to see how eLearning is more cost-effective.
With eLearning, there’s no cost to reproduce materials and, thanks to mobile learning and microlearning, learners can use their own tech to participate. And, because the classroom is virtual, you save on travel costs, and instructors can record and distribute their sessions any time.
One of the main reasons why custom eLearning is effective is that it’s the perfect delivery method for multimedia materials. Where else can a learner check out a graphic, watch a video, or share a clip online while learning? Instead of reading pages of text or sitting through a training presentation, learners can be engaged in the material, which increases retention. The spectrum of eLearning materials is vast and can be used in tandem with blended learning for a holistic training approach.
3. Sensory Engagement
It’s a well-documented truth that the more senses that are engaged while learning, the better the recall later. When eLearning engages a learner’s eyes, ears and hands during a course, that sensory learning enhances what could have been a lackluster experience. What’s more, simulations and mastery checks give users another chance to truly experience the training in a safe space before employing new skills on the job.
Just like learners aren’t one-size-fits-all, learning is not a one-size-fits-all experience. By using different delivery methods to offer a unique and individual experience for each learner, eLearning helps learners discover, read, watch and interact—at their own pace. This type of customized eLearning creates an educational atmosphere more conducive to learning and retention.
5. Course Correction
In a traditional classroom setting, a student might be less likely to raise their hand and risk failure; in the workplace, the same applies: learners may not be open to testing a new skill for fear of getting it wrong. ELearning gives learners permission to explore, test and yes, even fail as part of the learning process—no judgment here. Continuous, in-the-moment feedback helps learners course-correct and become more proficient in the safest way possible, keeping the learning path moving forward in a positive way.
Who wants to sit through hours of class time to get a few minutes’ worth of new information? ELearning speeds up the process for learners who go at a quicker pace, saving time and resources for the ultimate in efficiency. ELearning can also allow learners to test out of material they’ve already learned, also saving time. If you choose to deliver your eLearning via mobile device, you have an even greater advantage: mobile users complete courses 45 percent faster than desktop learners, according to Lynda.com. ELearning allows users to fill gaps of time with learning wherever, whenever.
7. Learner Satisfaction
If you really want students to retain what they learn, you’ll need to aim for high satisfaction rates. Bad attitudes about learning lead to disengagement. Using eLearning to appeal to learners’ hearts and minds by illustrating the “why” behind the learning, and giving learners the chance to see the fruits of their labor via metrics, leaderboards, and certification increases learner satisfaction and promotes a better attitude—so the learning actually sticks.
8. Data and Analytics
Effectively employing a learning management system doesn’t only allow you to create and deliver learning materials: it gives you more insight into how and when your learners respond to the material. Utilizing data aggregated from your LMS, you can refine your eLearning approach for better results. For example, if you notice that a large percentage of your learners aren’t finishing modules, you could try breaking the eLearning into smaller “bites” via microlearning modules of five minutes or less.
9. Collaboration and Team Building
Getting a quiet class talking can be an instructor’s biggest nightmare, especially when you get more crickets than input. If there’s anything that telecommuting and virtual workplaces have taught us, it’s that it is possible to collaborate and communicate without being in the same classroom.
eLearning allows learners different avenues for connection outside of the office, thanks to forums, social media, and a flipped classroom model. The result? Learners who are actually willing to talk, and stronger, more naturally collaborative teams.
When working in a global workplace, it’s often difficult to gauge learners’ training experiences, which are influenced by different instructors, personalities, and the availability of materials, all of which can vary wildly from location to location. With eLearning, you can standardize the experience by delivering the same media, and thus have better control over the learning environment.
Using the tools that users already have in their pockets, eLearning turns almost any space and time into an opportunity for development. The many advantages of eLearning can be argued in a number of ways, but the main advantage can be simply boiled down to one component: retention. Learners who are engaged, who are excited about the course material, who actually want to experience the concepts through games, quizzes, discussions and more actually retain information better.