In recent years, businesses have started looking for more practical and effective ways to provide learning and development opportunities for staff. The idea of spending a whole day off-site at a training facility doesn’t appeal to many companies now, and there are plenty of reasons for that. Not only has it become nearly impossible to organise in the Covid-19 world we’re living in, but it’s also not practical for many businesses.
When E-learning first became available, it was, to say the least a little clunky, however the idea was there. Offering staff the option of learning while at their desks is the backbone of e-learning, and as years have gone by the technology has caught up to the vision. Now, in 2020, virtual study is trending throughout the world, both in business and other educational settings.
Let’s take a deeper look at E-learning and why it’s become more popular than ever in 2020.
What is E-Learning?
E-learning is a pretty broad term that refers to any kind of virtual learning. Rather than sitting in a classroom, participants can log on to a training program online and learn at their own place. Having said that, we’re also now moving into the era of virtual classrooms, where participants attend training online. Ultimately, any digital method of training can fall under the banner of e-learning.
The idea of e-learning is extremely appealing, however the gap between good and bad e-learning can be quite stark. If you want to provide e-learning as an option for your employees, it’s important to ensure the content is relevant and engaging. This is because without engaging content, people can feel like they’re just clicking through a slideshow of information without really learning much.
The best types of e-learning will combine written text, video, animations, and interactive parts to keep people interested. The best thing is, you can find e-learning to cover everything from professional development to Microsoft Office training, and you can even customise your own.
Self-paced learning is more convenient
Most businesses would acknowledge the importance of learning and development for their staff. People like to learn, it boosts engagement, and it fuels the natural human desire to acquire knowledge. However, generally your employees will have great care for the work they do. They wrestle with the competing priorities of wanting to keep up with their workload versus attending training.
A lot of this stems from traditional classroom-based training being a huge time investment that takes people away from their work. The workload doesn’t disappear, so people feel stressed when they return from training and have to catch up. E-learning is much more convenient as it can be completed on a more flexible schedule, and staff also don’t need to leave their desks.
Put learning to use immediately
One of the problems with classroom-based training is the content is often very broad and doesn’t always give people an opportunity to consolidate what they learn. In contrast, e-learning is much quicker, and people can start applying their knowledge almost instantly. For example, if you schedule a staff member in for a Microsoft Excel course online, they can finish the training and immediately start working on that program.
Fast consolidation also occurs because of the more specific nature of each online course. While you can certainly participate in e-learning that covers more broader topics, often you would choose a course that has a narrower scope. This means more information is retained, and you can start using those skills straight away.
E-Learning is more easily accessible, at any time
It’s a logistical nightmare trying to schedule your employees in for classroom-based training. Whether you’re a small business or a large organisation, it leaves a massive hole in your daily operations if multiple staff members attend training at the same time. It can affect productivity, your customers, and ultimately your bottom line. You’re also often at the mercy of training organisations who only have certain dates they can conduct your training.
E-learning is so much more accessible, as staff remain at their desks and complete the training when it’s convenient. In the case of facilitated virtual classrooms, you do lose a little bit of that flexibility however it’s much easier to organise your teams to attend shorter courses this way than going off-site or away from their desks.
Study only what’s relevant
Have you ever held training for staff only to hear them complain that they already knew half of the course content? This is one of the biggest complaints among staff, and also why training falls flat for many people. It’s nearly impossible to predict what knowledge your staff have and organise training that’s relevant for everyone. That is, until e-learning came along.
The number of courses available in e-learning, self-paced and virtual classroom format is almost endless. Also, the courses are shorter, so each course usually targets a more specific skill. So, rather than sending staff to an all-day ‘Leadership’ course, you can provide them with e-learning modules more tailored to the specific skills they want to learn, such as conflict management, communication or leading through change.
Create a training schedule and stick to it
While e-learning does give you the option to be more flexible with training attendance, it also does help you to schedule courses far in advance. Because you’re not relying on spaces to open up with a training provider, you can book learning and development opportunities for staff long into the future. You can even schedule training for all of your staff with a specific focus area each month.
Rather than locking people in to complete training on a certain date and time, you can create a schedule of monthly training priorities. For example, in October, you release e-learning courses dealing with time management, and staff can complete them any time during the month. Next month, release a different course.
This ensures all staff are given the development opportunities they deserve, and having a regular schedule helps to build a learning culture.
A more cost-effective way of learning
With convenience also comes greater cost-effectiveness. That’s one of the most appealing things for businesses looking to transform their learning and development programs. E-learning is a way to make training interactive, fun, easy and most of all accessible. It addresses multiple learning styles, and also makes it easy to deliver targeted training to individuals.
When you also consider the fact that people are away from their desks less, their work isn’t impacted as much, and they’re learning only the skills that are relevant to their unique needs, you’re definitely onto a good thing. Ultimately, it means less wasted time for staff and they can spend more time on the work they’re paid for. They’ll also be better equipped to succeed.
By mixing technology with the ability to tailor training to staff, you get the most cost-effective form of learning available.
E-learning is easily accessible for remote workers
Finally, it’s no surprise that the current work landscape has a lot to do with e-learning’s popularity in 2020. Due to Covid-19, we’ve had to change the way we run businesses, and that means a big change to learning and development also. More people are working from home, but rather than forget about training, companies can harness the power of e-learning to ensure consistency of training.
While you may not be able to gather people in a room and deliver classroom-based training, you can certainly make e-learning accessible for all of your remote workers. 2020 has been a huge year for adapting to challenges, and for those who have never used e-learning before it’s a great opportunity to start.
Virtual education is being adopted everywhere, from small businesses to higher-learning institutions, and while it’s a period of adjustment, we now have the technology to support our training needs.