Why Online Learning is Turning Out to Be More Effective Than Ever Before 

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Learning and development for your staff is a key part of maintaining a great culture. But when Covid-19 hit early in 2020, businesses were thrown into a tailspin. Some had to shut down temporarily, some closed for good. Others had to change their business model and some even branched out into different industries. It’s easy to see how training and development could get lost. 

For those who did maintain operations through the pandemic, remote working was a big part of it. While there have been mixed results in terms of staff embracing the new way of working, one thing is for sure. Online learning has risen drastically in popularity. For remote workers, online training has been the only way to access the development opportunities they need. It’s also been a lifeline for people needing to re-skill in order to find work. 

However, aside from the forced changes because of the pandemic, why is online learning so popular? Well, it provides a whole range of benefits for both businesses and employees, which we’ll explore here. 

A safer alternative due to Covid-19 

Naturally, with Covid-19 restrictions and social distancing, the old classroom style of learning hasn’t been possible. In truth, its popularity was waning anyway, as technology has begun taking over the learning industry. However, the ability to attend virtual training courses and explore other forms of online development has been a godsend during difficult times. 

Online training can be done from anywhere with an internet connection and device, meaning you can stay at home and still get the training you need. It’s risk-free, reduces the need for people to be gathered together, and also reduces the need for commuting. Unfortunately, the world has changed in many ways, and in the new world, online training courses are simply far safer than the alternative. 

Online training can still be facilitated 

When many people think about training courses online, they may think about self-paced e-learning. There’s nothing wrong with that of course, and many people find it to be the best way to learn. But some people like facilitated training because they can ask questions and it’s a little more interactive. People are now discovering however, there’s a lot more to online training than they first thought. 

With the introduction of virtual classrooms, participants can now enjoy facilitated training from the comfort of their desk or home. Technology has advanced to the point where trainers can now develop engaging course content and deliver it online. Participants simply log on, and the facilitator guides them through digitally delivered content. The most common scenario uses audio rather than video, however some businesses may be able to offer training on video calls too. 

Importantly though, facilitated virtual classrooms are still interactive, featuring chat functions and the ability to ask questions, do quizzes and participate just the same as you would in a classroom. 

More flexibility for staff 

One of the keys to online learning’s rise in popularity is the increased flexibility. It’s never easy to schedule large groups of staff members to attend training off-site, or even gathered in conference rooms. It takes time – valuable time that staff could otherwise use achieving results. So, there’s a huge flexibility boost when staff can learn online and in their own time. 

With the increase in short online courses available, staff can proactively complete training during quiet periods, giving them the chance to develop their skills without compromising their work. Mobile connectivity to online courses is also great for flexibility. Keen learners might even choose to do a short course on their daily train ride home!  

The stats that matter 

It’s fine to make all these claims about how great virtual learning is, but what you really want to know is the stats, right? Statistics tell us a lot about the success or failure of a certain industry, product or process. So, let’s

Online training is more cost-effective 

Put simply, online training is cheaper. Let’s think about the costs that are removed when you do training online instead of in a facilitated classroom setting. There’s the time spent travelling to and from a course venue. A lot of time is generally wasted in this setting too, because the training is less fluent. The cost from training providers is also lower, because they have less overheads in delivering the training.  

Then there’s the amount of time lost by sending people to a whole day course. Development is important for staff, but the bottom line is, well, the bottom line. Off-site training means a decrease in productivity, and that ultimately becomes a business expense. 

With online training, you can maximise your staff’s training time, and also access a bigger range of more targeted training. So, you’re not wasting money training people in skills they don’t need. 

Easy accessibility 

People love the easy accessibility of online training. Let’s not forget, we’re talking mostly here about training in a corporate environment. It’s an environment where time is money, so being able to easily access the training you need is a big bonus for businesses.  

Online training courses are also shorter, usually, and more targeted towards specific skills. So, it’s easy for people to browse course catalogues and easily access the specific courses they find value in. Basically, all you need is an internet connection and a device such as PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone. Sure beats driving to a training facility and spending the day! 

Increased productivity 

When people are away from their desks, productivity decreases. That’s a pretty simple equation to understand, so it’s little wonder that online training has become so popular for businesses. Most companies want skilled staff, and they want to provide opportunities for development. This creates a learning culture, and also increases staff engagement. But it’s natural for a company to want learning and development to impact productivity as little as possible. 

When doing virtual learning, employees don’t even need to leave their desk. They can complete their training, and get straight back to work so there’s no lost time. And of course, there’s the added bonus that skilled staff are more productive in general, so why wouldn’t businesses want their people to develop the skills they need to achieve more? 

Better consolidation of skills 

Have you ever attended a whole-day training course and walked away wondering what you actually learned? Some of these courses even ask the question at the end of the day, “What was the most useful thing you learned today?” Often, this question results in a lot of blank faces. This is because whole day courses are too long, filled with too much information, and there’s no opportunity to properly consolidate the skills being learned. 

With online courses being much shorter and tailored towards individual skills, staff can consolidate their learning instantly. Online courses also have a lot more interactive quizzes and tests designed to embed those learnings more thoroughly. Put simply, it’s much easier to start putting skills into practice when you don’t have a whole day’s worth of course content swimming around your head. 

Massive variety of courses available online 

Finally, online training is becoming so popular and effective because of the huge variety available. Because training has traditionally been done in a whole day or even across several days, it’s been difficult to isolate the skills that people need. For example, you end up with 15 people attending a generalised Microsoft Excel course and they all have different levels of experience. Half the people don’t get anything from the training because they already know it. 

With so much variety in online courses though, you can send experienced staff to an advanced course while letting others learn the basics. There’s just so much to choose from in an online training catalogue, so you can deliver much more value to your staff with targeted training opportunities.  

So, whether due to the pandemic or not, online training is proving to be far more effective than other methods. If your business has let your learning and development slip a little because of Covid-19, now is the time to explore the range of online training opportunities available. 

May 19, 2022

By Dr. Denise Meyerson

Dr. Denise Meyerson is the founder of MCI and has 30 years' experience in vocational education. In that time, she has developed deep expertise in the design and delivery of a range of qualification programs to major corporates and to job seekers via in-person learning methodologies as well as innovative digital learning experiences.