By default, adult learners are intrinsically motivated to pursue knowledge that has immediate application. Mastery and successful performance in the work environment encourage adult learners to continue learning. This cycle of achievement and knowledge pursuit can continue enthusiastically if you, as a training provider/developer bear in mind the needs of a life-long learner, during the planning phase.
The importance of learning achievements in an eLearning environment has long been established. Traditional learning requires extensive costs, time and effort in terms of development, deployment and consumption of the learning materials.
By contrast, eLearning materials are like reusable objects. They can be replicated and amended to fulfill demands easier than traditional learning materials. Fierce competition between companies and the fight to win the market is pressing employees for time and managers for budget. eLearning fulfills these requirements successfully.
The popularity of telecommuting jobs depicts the benefits of an online medium. eLearning is similar. It provides the flexibility to learn, apply, perform and innovate at the pace of the learner. It places more control over learning and its transfer as compared to traditional learning. Autonomy and independence are two main expectations of an adult learner – better sufficed by an eLearning course.
In this eBook, we describe how online courses, if developed effectively, lead to their “fame” and preference as a learning choice.
What are your options?
First things first, why would you choose online learning over traditional learning?
eLearning provides a (potentially) “wider” learning environment as compared to traditional learning. Did you ever have the urge to record a LIVE lecture using your smartphone for later use? eLearning materials are available whenever you need them. Think about the deeply seated knowledge that you have not shared with your peers. Research indicates that this tacit knowledge is best expressed through textual media. The eLearning environment provides a text-based knowledge interchange platform that aids in tacit knowledge exchange.
Traditional learning is great for speakers, but often leaves out the introverts who may have valuable information to share. In the absence of an audience, from the privacy of their own homes, introverts can share more feedback and comments than they would in a traditional environment.
Also, a traditional environment cannot cater to learning styles and preferences (kinesthetic, visual and auditory learning styles) as much as an online learning environment can.
A blended learning environment uses both traditional and eLearning formats. Blended training has an online aspect that is to be completed at the location of the learner. The traditional aspect enables the group to discuss their online learning content and experiences.
Determining the format of your delivery will enable you to design and allocate resources accordingly.
Why else is eLearning better than traditional learning?
- Long distance is no longer a problem, connect from your mobile or stationary device to your corporate learning management system and experience your course.
- Start and stop at any time. Pick up from where you stopped last time.
- Can be used for many clients or employees at the same time. Scaling up is as simple as providing access to eLearning materials. Compare this to classroom sizes. Support for learners is often better than a couple of facilitators managing a 50 + classroom size. Online mentors who may be corporate seniors, can offer guidance in achieving learning goals.
- Subject matter experts can mentor an online course as compared to general facilitators in a traditional learning environment.
- Re-using and refurbishing materials is easier. There are millions of “learning objects” available in online learning repositories (for free or subsidized cost) to be integrated in an eLearning course.
- Traditional environment is relatively unpredictable, just like life events. Will the technology in the classroom work? Do we have a Plan B? What if key speakers don’t show up?
- Standardization control for learning materials is easier to track. Simply create versions of your learning materials.
- Real-time access for learners in a synchronous setting. LIVE podcasts and classroom whiteboards make eLearning even more popular. Shy learners have proven to be extroverts in an online learning environment!
- Evaluation and improvement are more effective and unbiased in an online learning format.
We bring up the question again: Is eLearning your best choice? In a corporate setting, where change is essential and knowledge is superfluous, eLearning is a proven strategy to improve employees.
There are several trends that have fueled the adoption of eLearning in the corporate sector:
- A demand for skilled work-force coupled with skill shortage among employees.
- The higher differences in salaries between high school and college graduates.
- The swifter pace of technological advancement and its adoption coupled with shorter product life-cycle.
- Changing perceptions of eLearning from being a recurring cost to being an investment.
Who will benefit from eLearning?
If you are in sales and geographically distanced from your headquarters, a LIVE podcast will explain the latest product in a real-time manner. Or, if you are an equipment operator, you can learn about the latest upgrade through simulation courses.
Customer service interactive scenarios are also popular eLearning courses. Business strategy initiatives like ERP (Enterprise Resource Management) and CRM (Customer Relationship Management) are implemented using eLearning training platforms to proliferate their use for business efficiency.
If you compare your business to your competitors, training using customized training materials will give you a superior edge and confidence. Also, if there are certain ways your company does things, you should teach those to your staff using eLearning tools. As a training manager and aspiring eLearning developer, ask yourself this question: What can make you go through a book or a course? A natural sense of suspense and mystery, as to what happens next.
What will keep your learners asking for more? Learner-responsive learning material and learner-preferred format (synchronous, asynchronous etc.). Organize materials according to the learners’ capability and learning styles. For example, senior members of your organization need opportunities to “skip” materials to “advanced” section. They have separate learning needs from the younger groups. Plan learning according to the ages and stages of the learner.