Keeping Up: The Pros and Cons of eLearning As a Corporate Training Solution

The Pros and Cons of eLearning As a Corporate Training Solution
Author

Shardul Prakash Mohite

Last updated June 13, 2018


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Technology in 2018 permeates our lives, from the way we communicate with our friends or watch television, to how we get around a city or book a hotel room. We can preheat the oven while driving home from work, buy a coffee at Starbucks without pulling out a wallet, and keep up with the news around the world 24/7 in real time.

It is then no surprise, that technology is also changing how enterprises offer corporate training. The enterprise is slowly moving from the traditional classroom-based approach to technology-enabled eLearning instead. As with so many other parts of our lives, the digital transformation is bringing about a disruption in how employees are trained. Although the adoption rate for online learning so far is only around 30 percent for large corporations, that number is climbing as eLearning becomes more common in the workplace.

Why Corporate Training Must Adapt to the Digital Transformation

Corporate training has a long history because organizations have recognized that training employees is both easier and less expensive than replacing them. An investment in an employee’s skills and knowledge can return dividends to the employer. That is as true now as it has ever been.

However, the pace at which that education needs to happen has accelerated. Executives in the C-suite are realizing they must provide more flexible and fast-paced opportunities for their employees to learn and master new skills in order to impact strategic business initiatives because the technology itself evolves at such a rapid pace. In our digitally driven world, managers need to both identify a skills gap and then address it right away—or risk falling behind. This fast-paced, rapidly changing environment has given corporate training a sense of urgency that didn’t exist before, making eLearning the preferred method for many.

Is eLearning the answer for every business, large or small? Perhaps not, which is why those in charge of corporate training should consider the pros and cons of eLearning when seeking out a solution.

On the Positive Side: The Pros of eLearning

In general, when it comes to learning digital and technological skills, eLearning is probably the method of choice because the delivery methods match the subject matters. However, there are other reasons to consider eLearning, as well.

One of the most important reasons is scalability. eLearning can easily scale. Whether you have one employee to upskill, a dozen or even a hundred, eLearning will work for all of them.

eLearning can also be delivered faster than traditional models. Compared to training that must be developed in-house or the time it takes to line up training to be offered via a traditional classroom-style format, eLearning can be instituted almost immediately. In a world of digital transformation, with change happening all around us and organizations striving to keep up and even get ahead, getting your employees trained on new skills needs to happen in real-time, not somewhere in the distant future.

In addition, eLearning can be tailored and targeted, to ensure employees get exactly what they need. Does everyone in your IT department need to learn how to build dashboards for better business intelligence? Probably not, and some might be better off learning Python, R or Hadoop while others focus on analytics. With eLearning, you can ensure the skills learned are exactly those your business needs your employees to master.

eLearning lets people learn anywhere, anytime. That means you won’t be without critical staff during peak hours because they are off sitting in a classroom somewhere. It also means your organization can take advantage of eLearning from all over the world, regardless of geography and time zones. In addition your employees can learn when and where they prefer—even at home—which can improve retention.
 
Finally, eLearning is decidedly less expensive compared to traditional corporate training because no dedicated staff or facility is needed, nor do you have to cover for employees away at a class. In fact, eLearning saves corporations between 50 and 70 percent when they choose it over instructor-based training.

On the Downside: The Cons of eLearning

Obviously, eLearning has distinct advantages over an old-school approach, but that does not make it a perfect solution for every situation. It is, however, an adaptable solution, so even those qualities that might be considered a disadvantage can be overcome.

For example, some people simply learn better in a traditional classroom setting rather than in an online, self-directed one. If this is the case at your organization, look for an eLearning solution that offers blended learning—a mix of online and instructor-led courses—and opportunities for interaction with other learners.

This brings us to another possible drawback of eLearning: lack of interaction with an instructor and/or classmates. Some of us learn better when we can discuss our new knowledge with others. As with the point above, this can be achieved with an eLearning solution that offers instructor-led classes or online community forums. Some eLearning solutions even offer 24/7 teaching assistance to support learners whenever they need it.  

It could be that online-only learning fails to offer the hands-on experience that helps people to retain new knowledge. This could be true with certain solutions, so look for eLearning options that offer hands-on projects for applying newly learned skills, and virtual labs for software development classes.

Finally, eLearning might fail to ensure employees are learning, especially if it is entirely self-directed. In that case, seek out eLearning solutions that measure progress with methods such as quizzes to both test and improve retention, and final assessments that are aligned to a certification or some other industry standard.

Tips for Choosing an eLearning Solution

For businesses that need to upskill employees in technology domains such as Big Data or cloud computing, eLearning is an obvious choice. It can also be the best option for domains such as digital marketing and project management, although, you can give it a serious consideration regardless of the skills gap you’re trying to fill. 

However, not all eLearning options are created equal. If you decide to use an eLearning option, here are some guidelines for choosing the best possible solution. Look for:-

  • eLearning that offers a global anytime, anywhere approach to employee training, one with both instructor-led and online classes, as well as 24/7 support.
  • Courses that are developed by industry leaders and subject matter experts, and kept current with regular updates to content.
  • Courses that include projects, labs or hands-on learning to enable practical application and improve retention.
  • eLearning that includes quizzes and assessments.
  • Solutions that have high course completion rates.

 eLearning is getting more and more commonplace in every part of our lives, from the personal self-improvement we choose to do as individuals to the blended learning classrooms becoming the norm in our children’s schools and universities. eLearning for corporate training will also soon become the norm, and the sooner your organization discovers the benefits of this flexible, fast and cost-effective approach, the sooner you’ll be able to adapt to rapid changes and implement those strategic business initiatives.

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About the Author

Shardul heads Product Management at Simplilearn. He has over 10+ years of entrepreneurial experience in building products for international markets in domains such as education, video, and sports. Prior to this role, Shardul was a co-founder at a SaaS-based video-tech startup. He believes in first-principle thinking and is a life-long student of human behavior, user experience, data-driven decision making, and lean thinking. Shardul is a computer engineering graduate from Pune University, India. He is an avid reader, enjoys long drives and travel.


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