Despite the complexity of the technology required, the most important factor in developing effective digital learning is the content. Many of the courses developed come in the form of “ready to go courses” that are off-the-shelf. A more tailored solution is referred to as "bespoke," which is customized to client's specific needs. This content needs to reside somewhere on the web so that it is accessible to users. Most often the hosting site for eLearning is a Learning Management System (LMS). The front end of the LMS provides a learning portal for users to take courses and the back-end allows an admin to manage training across an organization. It can also provide analytics and reporting functions.
Digital Learning or Computer Based Training has gone beyond the days of the old computer labs. Today eLearning is delivered via laptops, tablets and mobile devices using html5 content rather than flash, although there is still an alarming amount of flash based content that will soon become inaccessible. Mobile apps are increasingly playing a larger role in how learning is consumed in schools and in the workplace. Gamification of training (developing learning content that involves aspects of playing an online game) is growing at a rapid pace and will soon become the baseline for how all eLearning is developed.
Reduced cost is one of the biggest benefit of switching from traditional to online learning. Costs are saved because courses are shorter, and instructors are no longer required to be physically present to conduct the training. For example, British Telecom delivered e-Business training to 23,000 employees in three months at a cost of £5.9m, compared to £17.8m and a five year time span for classroom training (Evans, 2013)
Another benefit of eLearning is the time saved. Typically a 4 hour classroom module results in about a 1 hour eLearning course. Which must mean the learner is losing out if it’s so much shorter? No, not quite. Learner compression typically reduces the time it takes to learn due to: time elimination from other learners asking questions not relevant to the needs of the individual learner, less social interaction time, less time to start and conclude a lesson, and less travelling time.
The Hudson Institute of Indianapolis has reviewed 20 years of research on e-learning and found an average of 40% time reduction. IBM, after rolling out an eLearning program for managers, found that participants learned nearly five times more material without increasing time spent training (Epic Performance Improvement, 2011). E-Learning can take anywhere from 25-60% less time to convey the same amount of instruction or information as in a classroom (Rosenberg, 2001).
One of the biggest advantages of eLearning is its convenience. Staff or students can take courses from home or from the workplace so no travelling is involved. This means that hours aren’t wasted getting to and from training centers and students or staff can concentrate on their work during working hours. This facilitates a reduction in cost as it cuts out both travel and accommodation expenses.
The Research Institute of America found that the eLearning experience increases the retention rate of learners by anywhere between 25-60% (W.R. Hambrecht & Co, 2001). There are a number of reasons why this might be. Learners can choose to do courses in their own time, they can go at their own pace, there is less social interaction time and course menus and navigation means that users can go back and forward to parts of the course they might be weak on.
Learning Management Systems (LMS) are eliminating many of the problems associated with traditional training. There is a major reduction in administration costs as admins/managers can manage all of their students' or employees' training digitally. They can run reports to see who has taken a course, what their progress is and check their score results online. Completion certificates are now all digitized and can be stored so that completion data can go with the student or employee as they change organizations.
Consistent training is also a huge benefit offered by eLearning. This is not always true when training takes place in a classroom where there are trainers with a different levels of experience, styles or personalities plus the various circumstances (personal, social etc.) affecting the performance of a training professional on any given day. Depending on the requirements of the online course, student may also be able to access a plethora of additional online resources to help them with their learning. They are no longer limited to the instructor or the text as their only source of information.
DLM Source is committed to helping you get started by finding out if eLearning is the right fit for your education and training needs. eLearning is our passion; we are ready to help, whether it is in the form of advice, a referal to another company, or developing a course for you. Send us a note through our contact page and we'd be happy to get the ball rolling.