succeed with elearning
So….What is elearning?
We have seen many answers to this question but the one we always return to and the one we like the best is the definition penned by Michael Allen.
“elearning is really about enabling new, more effective behaviours.
It’s about providing ever more beneficial ways of helping individuals and organisations acquire new skills and access knowledge”.
elearning when it is applied in the right way will effectively deliver significant efficiencies for your organisation, but the need for initial investment when elearning is introduced must be acknowledged and it is therefore imperative that your elearning strategy is aligned to the overall business objectives of the organisation.
Business plans highlight the pressure points in the business, identify skills gaps in the workforce and set the business goals. Enormous advantage can be evidenced when business goals are translated into individual goals for employees, so by effectively improving the performance of employees it is then that the business goals will be achieved.
It is with these points in mind that the business case for elearning is built .
Training budgets are being squeezed so it makes sense to look for innovative ways to maintain training provision and optimise budgets.
- Reducing Costs – when comparing elearning to instructor led classroom training it is the direct costs of room hire, hotel accommodation, trainer fees, course materials and travel that come under scrutiny. There are also other costs that need to be considered for example staff wages, the trainee is still being paid while attending training and in many cases a replacement has to be paid to cover for them, sometimes at overtime rates.
*elearning is available at all times, so when the trainee is available, at a time that is much less critical to the business.
BT reportedly saved £12m on their annual training budget by substituting elearning for some of their instructor led training
- Saving Time – when attending instructor led training there is always time allocated to ‘ice-breaker’ activities, introductions, housekeeping fire alarm procedures and toilet facility directions, coffee breaks, lunch breaks etc.
*elearning is self-paced learning and almost always takes less time. Usually delivered in ‘bite sized’ chunks that can be eaten when convenient
- Effective – the effectiveness of learning delivered in a classroom is highly dependent on the skills of the trainer and the experience of many is that training that is not used immediately is forgotten. The phrase ‘use it or lose is’ is often so true.
*elearning has consistently proven as effective as instructor led training and numerous studies have confirmed this. The elearning module can also serve as a reference tool allowing learners to easily revisit the course if needed.
- Standardisation & Continuity – the consistency of the message delivered is solely down to the ability of the trainer to communicate that message and every trainer is an individual so no two trainers are ever the same.
*elearning delivers the same message to everyone and this is particularly important for compliance training
- Scalability – instructor led training when plotted on a graph would show a level line of cost so it is difficult to make savings without compromising standards of delivery. The issue of trainees not turning up and so creating a need for additional courses also adds to the cost
*elearning requires an upfront investment to create the content but the cost per person dramatically reduces as the number of learners increases, this often enables everybody in the organisation to receive the training instead of a chosen few.
- Environmentally Friendly – traditional training often has people travelling to a central point to receive the training. They are then often in receipt of many paper hand-outs to take away with them.
*elearning removes the need to travel and the need to receive paper hand-outs making elearning much kinder to the environment.
An Open University study found that producing and providing elearning consumes 90% less energy and 85% fewer carbon emissions per trainee than classroom training.
- Availability – instructor led training has to be scheduled into the training plan giving time for candidates to be allocated a place. This often means a waiting time before the course can be delivered. The pace of change in business these days makes this difficult for the candidate ‘who needs to know now’
*elearning is always available when the time and place is convenient for the candidate, maybe at home or in the office
- Reach – traditionally organisations that have remote workers such as sales teams out on the road or construction workers out on site find it difficult to reach them when training is needed, particularly if it is urgent for example updates on products, changes to legislation.
*elearning – the introduction of elearning for these workers removes the barriers that in the past has made keeping them up to date difficult. The advances of technology and the use of social media means these groups are just as accessible as the employees located in head office.
- Tracking – keeping training records of instructor led training can be system driven but generally requires some manual input to transfer information from the classroom attendance sheets. Learner Management Systems(LMS) can manage both instructor led training and elearning
*elearning is tracked instantly when it is run through a Learner Management System (LMS), which it usually is. This is particularly important when delivering compliance training because the system records everyone’s progress and testing of understanding is also recorded.
One Step at a Time
When introducing elearning into your organisation for the first time it is often a good idea to start small by converting some instructor led training courses to elearning while maintaining others as they are, thus offering a blended approach to learning. This approach will help ease the learners who favour a traditional approach into new ways of learning. Communication is also an important part of introducing elearning into your organisation, the message should be cascaded down to everyone so that they understand the reasoning behind such change and can experience the benefits at an early stage. elearning projects have failed to achieve their full potential in the past when there has been little or no communication or integration with existing initiatives.
elearning strategy aligned with business goals
Involving all stakeholders in the organisation is paramount when developing anelearning strategy. The overall aim of the strategy is likely to impact on all aspects of the business so the stakeholders are likely to be the Finance Department who want to reduce costs, the Operational Departments who want to reduce risk by ensuring compliance with legal and regulation requirements, the L & D Department who want to maintain training plans and very often these days the Marketing & Sales Departments who want to promote new products and engage with the customer. We must of course not forget the learner who wants to develop their skills and progress their career.
Metrics that measure the outcomes of the elearning strategy must therefore be established. This means define a baseline that measures the current situation, agree the problems to be addressed and the value of solving those problems and then clearly state how the resulting outcomes will be measured. This will also give an indication of what return will be gained from the investment.
Return on Investment (ROI) has always been the holy grail of the training department trying to often defend the indefensible subjectivity of such calculations.
- significantly reduce the cost per person being trained
- significantly reduce the cost of travel and accommodation when compared to classroom training
- significantly reduce the costs of replacing employees who are attending training courses away from the job, or reduce the cost of lost productivity of the trainee particularly if the employee can complete their elearning course outside of normal working hours
- significantly reduce the time to competency when elearning is available to new recruits and remote workers
- significantly reduce administrative costs by managing learners online
- significantly enhance customer engagement when elearning is used to train customers. This can often lead to increased product adoption and new revenue streams for an organisation
Rapid development of elearning solutions has revolutionised the ability of organisations to respond to market and legislative changes. What in the past was often a major project has now become a rapid solution. Utilising the cost effectiveness and flexibility of elearning and learning technology tools enabling you to reach large numbers of people spread across various locations and often across various time zones. The old barriers of time, distance and accessibility have now been very much removed with the progressive changes in technology.
A ‘Just in Time’ approach to training has become the norm in the fast changing marketplaces that most organisations now operate. The agility and flexibility realised with elearning are key differentiators in these demanding times for business.
New Revenue Streams
elearning is now seen as an attractive way of creating new revenue streams for many organisations. Training customers on your products is often a chargeable service and delivering that training with elearning instead of workshop training is not only a more cost effective option for the customer, it also means more customers can be trained in a much shorter time, so everyone wins. A better informed customer reduces the number of service calls and increases brand loyalty , increasing the competitive advantage of your organisation in the marketplace.
Time to embrace elearning
With the compelling benefits of elearning now realised the time has never been better to take that first step to developing a business case for elearning.
Learning Light Workshops guiding you to an engaging, effective elearning strategy for your organisation
- Workshop 1 Define and determine elearning projects
- Workshop 2 Design and develop elearning
- Workshop 3 Deploy elearning
We can work with you to customise the elearning workshops, for example we can align elearning to marketing or elearning to specific industry segments – many or which we have detailed understanding of…….including retail, construction, legal, hospitality and catering, engineering and manufacturing, print and design, waste management and recycling, banking and finance, local government and professional services.
Please contact us at Learning Light for an informal discussion of your needs.