E-learning is hot. And for good reason. If done right, it can produce great results by decreasing costs and improving performance. Also, unlike a one-time classroom session, the elearning course is available for others. This includes the static elearning course as well as any ongoing conversations in networked communities.
E-learning can be particularly cost-effective when it’s used in conjunction with classroom-based learning as part of a blended learning programme.
There are always going to be some areas of training that require the application of practical skills and actually using equipment rather than just understanding the theory. But e-learning can be used as a cost-effective tool to complement these sessions, working efficiently alongside more traditional training methods.
Decreased material costs. Let’s say you have to train how to arrange equipment in a sterile environment like an operating room. If you had to use the real environment, it would be costly. Even setting up a fake environment has material costs and labor. By creating the environment online and letting the learner practice, you never have to worry about the costs associated with set up, use, and clean up.
Increased productivity. Because elearning is not bound by geography or time, you can control training’s impact on production by training people during down times. In addition, with the current economy, you’re asking people to do more with less. So elearning is a great way to give them the tools and skills needed to enhance their performance.
Freedom to fail. Let’s face it, real learning requires some failure. But no one likes to fail in a classroom full of other people. Elearning lets you fail without fear. This encourages exploration and testing of ideas. With the right feedback you create a great learning environment. Worst case, you can always start over. Something you can’t always do in class.
Improved retention. The combination of multimedia and instructional design can produce a very rich learning experience that is repeatable. Throw in some good practice activities with feedback and you have a learning environment that’s going to help your learners retain the course content which will produce results.
Personalized learning. Look out the window at your parking lot. My guess is that you’ll see a dozen or more different cars. They all do the same thing, yet we have personal opinions about what we want to drive. The same for learning. Learners want control. Elearning allows you to offer control to the learners in a way that classroom learning doesn’t.
Students are demanding mobile learning options.
Time management appears to be a factor for those struggling with online learning.
Numerous students mention the flexibility of online learning as a positive factor.
Majority of students want interaction and personal connection.
Effective course design is needed for clarity of instructions, and ease of navigation within the course environment (being able to find resources, instructions easily).
Ongoing access to resources. If you take a class in the real world and need a refresher, you better hope that you took good notes. Otherwise, you’re out of luck. That’s not the case with elearning. Ideally, you continue to have access to the online content and resources to brush up on what you learned.