One would think that in this day and age, online training developers would no longer have to defend their product. One would be mistaken. Despite the numbers showing otherwise, there is still a significant proportion of professionals who question the validity of E-learning and actually speculate whether or not it is “real” training.
In order to answer such skepticism, let us take a very careful look at the most predominant concerns expressed by companies when it comes to the realm of E-learning. Hopefully by addressing each issue in turn, we can persuade the doubters that compelling, modern E-learning is indeed the wave of the future.
Over the course of this four part blog series, we will examine all of the major issues of concern to companies who may be hesitating to include E-learning in their training regimen. They will be presented In descending order of importance from most bothersome to least. The topics covered are:
- E-learning Cost – both for implementation and maintenance
- Time commitment required by learners
- Employee Technical I.Q
- Lack of workplace technical culture
- Overall Quality of eLearning
- Management / employee buy in
E-learning Cost Of Implementation And Maintenance
As is understandable, the number one concern of companies looking at online training is cost — both to implement and to maintain. What you may find surprising is both categories are far less expensive than their more traditional classroom-style counterparts.
First things first. The numbers are from a potent Towards Maturity Benchmark study involving over 500 European and North American companies. As can be seen, online training is clearly on the rise, spearheaded by its two biggest factors: Program Quality Growth and Training Cost Reduction.
When you combine those two components into the overall package, you have a veritable powerhouse of training at your fingertips. Compound that with total flexibility (we shall cover this shortly) and learner engagement and you have an all-around quality product that is beneficial to both your employees and the organization itself.
The following chart, generated from a Towards Maturity study entitled New Learning Agenda looks at the improvement in E-learning through the year 2004 – 2013 compared to that of traditional instructor-led training:
|Greater Value for the Money||*||*||*||*||77%||93%||96%|
|Quality of Learning||*||41%||57%||90%||84%||94%||96%|
|Training Cost Reduction||16%||49%||46%||85%||83%||88%||90%|
The final statistic implying that in 2013, quality online training was 90% less expensive than equivalent instructor-led education may, at first look, seem like a wildly mistaken number. Nothing could account for a 90% reduction in cost without product quality suffering, right? Think again – According to the ON24 study The World Is Your Classroom;
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is a global learning company. Each year they organize a sales kickoff meeting to introduce new products to its selling force of consultants worldwide. For its December 2011 sales training, HMH created a customized two day online virtual sales meeting that was a true definition of blended learning for its 900 consultants. It included online exhibits, live sessions, virtual chat discussions and downloadable documents.
When the data was reviewed upon wrap up, it was seen that the online sales training resulted in better learning outcomes than any of their prior physical training workshops. Some 87% of attendees said the virtual training was “very good” or “outstanding.”
The event was a big success from a financial standpoint as well – It was approximately 90% less expensive to execute than a physical event, saving HMH more than $500,000.00.
This statistic in and of itself should be enough to alleviate the concerns of anyone who is vacillating over the expense of online training. Of course not all companies hold training workshops for 900 people very often and will subsequently save significantly less than half a million dollars, but Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is still representative of what can be achieved with contemporary E-learning.
Time Commitment From Elearning
The number two concern expressed by organizations concerning E-learning is that of time commitment required by the employees participating in the course. This too is an understandable and valid aspect. That being said, it is also a concern that is no longer relevant. One of the primary benefits that is available to companies who institute online training into their learning culture is that of flexibility.
While its more accepted cousin of instructor-led training often requires moderate to highly involved time-consuming activity, E-learning by its very nature is built for agility and adaptability. Traditional “workshop” type training often involves time lost through employee travel from the field and often multi-day seminars that are designed to teach everybody everything all at once. This type of training is highly structured – geared towards making the most of the gathering while everyone is in the same space.
The beauty of online training is that it can be experienced at the employee’s convenience. Whether it happens during downtime at the office or at home on their laptop, learners have the ability to train in their own time. This accessibility has been further compounded in the last few years with the swift development of mobile learning (M-learning).
This is simply E-learning gone mobile. Facilitated by new technology, E-learning can now be made available on employee’s mobile devices such as tablets and smart phones. Now staff who do not necessarily work in the office every day can take advantage of the same digital training that their co-workers back at H.Q. receive on their work computers. Ever so much easier and less expensive than trucking (or flying) staff spread across the countryside in for one big training conference!
Although we have addressed the two areas of biggest concern regarding online training, we are not done examining them all. In an upcoming blog post, we will cover some of the lesser areas that are at issue when companies are considering embarking on the contemporary path that is online learning.