It’s hard today to fathom a time when employee training required travel on the part of either the employers or the trainers and took place in a synchronous environment requiring everyone to be in the same place at the same time. Increase the number of employees being trained and the logistics of the training process could quickly become quite overwhelming—as could the costs.
Today, that’s no longer the case and, in fact, few employees—or trainers—likely recall the days when training sessions were face-to-face encounters that took place in a certain place at a specific time.
Elearning Offers Flexibility and Convenience
“The term ‘elearning’ has only been in existence since 1999,” according to efront. But, computer-based training was actually available to students in 1960. Elearning, or “electronic learning,” refers to the delivery of training via electronic means—computers, tablets and, increasingly, smartphones.
Elearning can cut time and costs out of the process of training employees, provide just-in-time access to critical information and knowledge and increase productivity. When employees have on-demand access to the information they need—wherever they are—they’re most likely to take advantage of these resources. Better yet, they’re more likely to retain the knowledge they receive. Elearning helps to address the variations in learning preferences and skills gaps among employees, boosting the odds that employees will be more engaged in learning and that results are likely to transfer back to their work environments.
There are a number of benefits to elearning—for learners, trainers, and employers. Here we’ll look at three key areas of benefit: less time invested, on-demand access and transfer of learning.
Less Time Investment Benefits Employees—and Employers
One of the big benefits of elearning is the ability to save time—time that would otherwise have been spent commuting, waiting for other students to arrive for the program, waiting for programming to begin, taking time for meals and breaks, etc. According to Brandon Hall Group’s HCM Outlook survey, elearning can save 40-60% of employees’ time when compared to traditional classroom learning.
In addition, employees save time that would otherwise have been spent learning material they may have already been familiar with. Elearning allows employees to set their own pace and focus on only the information they need.
Time savings, of course, translates to real monetary savings for employers—employees are out of the office for less time and don’t incur travel expenses.
Real-Time, On-Demand Access for Employees
Consider a typical scenario in many organizations. A new computer system or SaaS is being incorporated into some process and employees need to be trained in its use. Typically, before elearning options became widely available, employees would be trained as part of a large group generally several days or weeks before the new software was available for use. By the time they were expected to use the system, much of the training they received had likely slipped their minds.
With elearning, though, they have real-time, on-demand access to information where and when they need it. So, if they’re unsure of how to process a transaction, they don’t have to look back at training notes or seek out a superuser—they can simply look up the information themselves, when and where they need it.
Another benefit of elearning is that it can be very useful for employees who may suffer from literacy issues as Darren Cottingham, with DT Driver Training, points out. “We provide online driver training for heavy vehicle drivers,” he says. “Over 40% of people in that industry have low literacy levels. We find that, if a driver is comfortable using a computer, smartphone or tablet, they usually prefer online learning to classroom-based learning.”
Transfer of Learning
Ensuring the transfer of learning from a training session to back on the job has long been a challenge for trainers. They know that much of what is gained in a training session is frequently lost when not immediately applied. Elearning can have a big impact here.
According to Brandon Hall, elearning increases retention by 25-60%. They point to higher engagement among employees involved in this type of training. Interactive, digital learning puts employees in charge and, powered by today’s technology, allows them to interact with content that can take a variety of forms, including learning games and even virtual reality.
Elearning allows for more active learning; we know that learning works best when learners are actively engaged in the learning process.
When learning is transferred back to the job, productivity and revenue are positively impacted. “Over 40% of companies say that eLearning has helped them to boost revenue levels, and the companies that offer training using technology (including eLearning) have generated more than 25% higher revenue per employee,” according to an article in eLearning Industry.
Whatever your industry, whatever the size of your company, elearning offers benefits that both you and your employees can leverage to learn faster and better—and retail learning longer.