8 things to consider before adopting online training options

Online learning is cheaper and time-effective, but there are other factors to consider.

In an effort to reduce overall training costs more and more companies are now shifting away from purely traditional classroom-based learning towards a more blended, e-learning approach. A study by IBM* estimated that of the total cost of public classroom training, around 40 percent was spent on travel and accommodation. When that and the facilitator fees are taken out of the equation, it becomes easy to see how costs could be greatly reduced when taking the online learning approach.

Online training solutions can be hugely beneficial in terms of bringing down training costs, but there is no one-size-fits-all solution. According to soft skills training provider Staff Training, choosing a method of training delivery means taking into account the nature of the material, the technological proficiency of the learner, and availability of internet access in the learner’s region. Even with all those boxes checked, online learning might not be the right solution for learners who need a more hands-on and guided approach to learning, particularly when it comes to training courses with a longer duration. 

In these cases, organisations may find that adopting a more mixed approach where e-learning is combined with classroom learning provides the solution they require

Total cost, however, shouldn’t be the deciding factor. In some instances, such as when covering topics with complex issues or grey areas, e-learning is less likely to achieve the desired result than with a facilitator-led session where feedback can be readily supplied to the learner.

Here are five things to consider when considering an online training approach, according to Staff Training:

1 e-Learning solutions are more cost-effective. While cost should certainly not be your only consideration, it is nonetheless an important one. Online training cuts out travel and accommodation costs (as well as in most cases the facilitator cost) which leads to a far cheaper option, especially when training large groups.

2 e-Learning solutions are more time-effective. Another inherent benefit of online training is that it greatly reduces the time that needs to be spent on arranging logistics (such as flights, taxis, hotels, etc.), eliminates travel time, and affords the learner the flexibility of learning in their own time and at their own pace.

3 Standardisation of training and scalability. e-Learning ensures that each and every learner, whether a handful or an entire organisation, receives the exact same level of training, regardless of where they are in the world or when they begin the course. This is particularly useful in ensuring compliance, measuring skills, and for mandatory training such as induction training.

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4 Customisation and benefits to the learner. Online learning allows learners to progress at their own pace, ensuring that the quicker learners do not get bored and that the slower learners are able to digest the content sufficiently before moving on. The modular format of e-learning also allows for quick and easy customisation of content, allowing organisations to tailor the solution to their specific employees.

5 e-Learning requires a somewhat tech-savvy audience. Online training requires the use of technology, and while most e-learning is flexible enough to work on computers, laptops, and even smartphones, it may prove challenging for those who do not understand technology, as well as those who do not like it.

6 Availability of broadband. e-Learning requires an internet connection (most online learning is hosted on a learning platform and must be completed online), as well as enough data to download all videos and material. Apart from the cost of this, one should also consider the availability of broadband in the learner’s specific geographical area.

7 Learners must self-motivate. Online learning often means learners work in isolation and are required to manage their own time and progress. This also means that learners need to motivate themselves to complete the course timeously.

8 Content must be appropriate for the chosen format. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, the content of the material may not always be appropriate for an online format. Consider controversial topics that generate heated debate or complex topics that require discussion and deep exploration - without an experienced facilitator present to guide and moderate the conversation learners may be left without clear answers, or worse, with a misunderstanding of the subject matter.