When it comes to corporate training, lots of businesses prefer to stick with old, 'tried-and-true' methods that involve offline workshops, seminars, conferences, etc. And while such an approach embeds quite well in the 'knowledge transfer' paradigm, in terms of what the educational industry and digital technologies offer businesses today, it may be not that efficient.
That's why in this article we want to dwell on a topic of eLearning (or online learning), show you what makes it different from traditional forms of education, as well as outline the advantages and disadvantages of corporate eLearning.
What Is eLearning
Simply put, an eLearning is a method of delivery of learning materials or courses with the help of digital technologies. Here, the knowledge can be delivered to large audiences in different geographical locations simultaneously — via computers, tablets, mobile phones and other electronic devices (like touch screen whiteboards) that are connected to the Internet.
While being primarily targeted at educational organizations in its early stages in 2000s, today eLearning is used across a variety of sectors and business areas. Speaking of the organization’s training, the main goal of the eLearning system there is to make sure that employees get the knowledge needed to perform a specific operation or undertake a particular role.
Corporate eLearning can be delivered to the employees in different ways, through LMSs, explainer videos, web-based and computer-based training (WBT, CBT correspondingly), individual microlearning modules and via ILT (Instructor-led training).
The current state of eLearning market clearly proves that large companies and SMEs are highly interested in adopting eLearning programs and courses:
- 40% of Fortune 500 companies take advantage of eLearning solutions
- 93% of companies plan to adopt eLearning tools in their businesses
- 42% of companies that utilize eLearning generate higher income
- Adopting eLearning helps to increase employee productivity up to 25%
- Corporate eLearning market is expected to surpass the $38 billion mark by 2024
— According to Findstack and Business Wire.
Why Corporate eLeaning is Important for Employee Training
To make sure that your employees keep up with all updates regarding the company's technology infrastructure, policy base, industry, and regulatory compliance it's important to regularly hold training sessions, or put your staff through educational courses.
Seems to be no big deal here, right? You gather a team and conduct the needed training.
However, when you start digging a bit deeper into the subject a bunch of issues arise:
- How will I organize the training?
- How to schedule training right so it won't hurt the working schedule of a team?
- How long should the training session be?
- How much will it cost?
If we take a look at this situation from the perspective of eLearning and online education, all the organizational problems simply fade away. All you need to provide your employees with is educational materials (given that they have access to the Internet and a device to access the eLearning program).
The simplicity of implementation makes eLearning programs especially efficient when it comes to corporate training.
And not only that — let's check a few other eLearning benefits for corporate training.
What are the Advantages of Corporate eLearning?
Standardizes company's policies
One of the worst things that can happen to any business is an uncontrolled fragmentation of processes, when different departments within a company define their own area or responsibility and come up with their own ways to handle issues.
Business fragmentation is actually inevitable (especially for the large companies), and it's a normal practice; however, within an uncontrolled environment it never goes well — instead of splitting a business model into smaller fragments with their own clear logic, the company finds itself in the middle of a chaotic storm where no one knows where the business is headed.
By adopting eLearning methods and solutions companies can not only deliver the needed knowledge to their employees, but also set up a policy base — where all the business processes will be outlined and explained. This will help to flourish corporate responsibility, and establish clear standards for each and every employee in a company.
In spite of the traditional training sessions that are normally held offline only — at a particular time/date/location — eLearning systems provide employees with 24/7 access to course materials.
In fact, this aspect becomes a determining factor for those employees whose tight schedule doesn't allow to take training sessions at a specific time. So instead of forcing employees to adjust their schedule (which will most probably damage their productivity) so that they can attend in-person training, eLearning gives them the possibility to learn remotely, at a pace that is comfortable for them.
As the company grows, the needs and requirements regarding employee skills evolve as well. In these conditions, the 'one-size-fits-all' approach to workplace training won't work and the existing practices will become obsolete sufficiently fast.
If we look at this problem from the perspective of conventional training, there's almost no way how you can effectively scale the in-person learning sessions — getting your team once a week or month to the training room may work for small companies, but what will you do if you need to train 1000 employees?
With eLearning, on the contrary, employees are not obliged to visit training locations to take the course or receive an important update (on product functionality, changes in service policy, etc). The course materials can be updated or modified in real-time and automatically delivered to the staff. And no matter whether you're dealing with 50 learners (employees), or 50,000 learners — modern Ed-tech systems can be easily adjusted to your current needs.
This is best showcased by the Toyota experience — integrating an interactive video solution helped the company to improve its corporate training program (delivered to 20,000 employees across Europe), overcome inconsistency in customer service and ease the onboarding process for new employees.
By opting for web-based learning companies are able to hugely save up on the associated expenses. eLearning eliminates trainer's fees and costs related to office space reservation, travel, catering, print materials, etc. A good example could be PepsiCo UK who after developing an online training programme for internal education was able to eliminate all live workshops and thus drastically save up on the associated costs and logistical challenges.
Moreover, in contrast to the traditional in-person training, the eLearning sessions can be held over and over again without any additional investments made. And speaking about investments, according to the research done by IBM, with each dollar spent on eLearning, companies can generate up to $30 in improved productivity.
What are the Disadvantages of Corporate eLearning?
So, what are the disadvantages of corporate elearning? Are there any at all? In fact, yes, so let's get through the main ones.
Lacks live interaction with the instructor
One of the main advantages of corporate eLearning — the ability to quickly deliver knowledge to your team without an in-person supervision — is its one of the biggest disadvantages at the same time. Some employees would appreciate the ability to learn independently while others may struggle to progress through the training programme on their own.
With eLearning, employees don't get to sit with the supervisor, ask questions regarding the course or clarify interpretations. Also, the eLearning approach may not work for improving some specific skills — the closest example would be communication skills that are normally required for a Sales Manager role.
The lack of face-to-face interaction might, to some extent, be mitigated if the company implements the blended learning approach, meaning the employees will undergo training online and get to interact with a trainer a few times throughout a course (in-person or virtually.)
Does not offer hands-on experience
Getting back to the example from the paragraph above — one can hardly imagine a professional Sales Manager who obtained their expertise through online courses alone, without 'going into the field' and communicating with clients.
When going through the elearning programs, most of their time, employees will spend reading articles, listening podcasts, watching videos, taking tests, meaning there will be no hands-on, or practical experience with the subject.
For establishing procedures and educating teams on the company's policies the eLearing systems work perfectly; however, when it comes to client relations or principles of work of technical products — doing it 'in theory' only won't be that effective probably.
Does not perfectly appeal to all learning styles
Every person has its own learning style that affects how they perceive and process the information they are presented to. Despite the vast variety of interpretations and categories, the learning style of an employee will normally fall into one of three groups:
- Visual group — those who learn best through visual information (videos, illustrations, charts, graphs, presentations etc.)
- Auditory group — those who learn best through group discussion and conversations.
- Kinesthetic group — those who learn best through a hands-on experience or are 'learning-by-doing' kind of an audience.
The eLearning systems can perfectly meet the needs of visual learners and partially suit the auditory group via blended learning; however, when it comes to the third group of learners, who prefers demonstration over explanation, here the number of options is limited to AR and VR (plus explainer videos to a particular extent). These options may turn out not to be that cost effective.
Speaking of the pros and cons of corporate elearning, even the most advanced eLearning course or system cannot guarantee you a successful knowledge delivery. With online learning, employees not only take a 'learner' role, but the 'supervisor' role as well. Thus, there's always a risk that the learners will go through a course without paying needed attention or simply skipping some of its modules.
Another challenge with learning control comes in the form of distractions that employees may experience. During in-person training this issue can be completely eliminated as learners are placed in a controlled environment and stay under an ongoing supervision.
In case of eLearning, this can be avoided with the help of dedicated proctoring tools that will monitor employee activity whilst course completion and make sure they stay on-task with the training program.
Do The Advantages Of Corporate eLearning Outweigh The Disadvantages?
As with any method or approach, there are pros and cons of using eLearning in corporate training. However, the benefits of corporate elearning for employees fully overshadow all disadvantages.
The possible drawbacks that come with online education are nothing compared to the amounts of time and money that eLearning helps a company to save. For example, Monge — a major consumer goods retail chain in Central America — was able to cut down training costs in half after introducing in 2014 a digital training platform to educate 2,500 sales teams across 6 countries. Aside from that, the efficiency of digital education allows to deliver knowledge faster and without any damage dealt to the working schedule.
As to the disadvantages of corporate eLearning, with the right approach and effective system — created by a professional development partner — all risks can be easily controlled or mitigated.
In today's fast-moving world keeping up with emerging trends and challenges means everything. New technologies and training solutions are being developed, changing the way companies approach their daily operations.
When following market trends, it's very important not to get lost and make sure your team stays well-aware of every aspect of new technology, policy or role requirements update. And this is where eLearning tools and systems can assist you.
If you want to get more information on benefits and limitations of corporate elearning, or create a custom eLearning solution, contact us. At WTT-Solutions we've been developing edTech software and eLearning tools for 5+ years, have the needed expertise and a team of professional developers to get your project up and running on time and budget. Hit the 'get in touch' button in the top right corner of this page, fill a form, and one of our managers will get back to you to provide a FREE consultation!