2. Plan

2.2 Is eLearning your best choice?

By default, adult learners are intrinsically motivated to pursue knowledge that has immediate application. Mastery and successful performance in the work environment encourage adult learners to continue learning. This cycle of achievement and knowledge pursuit can continue enthusiastically if you, as a training provider/developer bear in mind the needs of a life-long learner, during the planning phase. The importance of learning achievements in an eLearning environment has long been established. Traditional learning requires extensive costs, time and effort in terms of development, deployment and consumption of the learning materials. By contrast, eLearning materials are like reusable objects. They can be replicated and amended to fulfill demands easier than traditional learning materials. Fierce competition between companies and the fight to win the market is pressing employees for time and managers for budget. eLearning fulflls these requirements successfully. The popularity of telecommuting jobs depicts the benefits of an online medium. eLearning is similar. It provides the flexibility to learn, apply, perform and innovate at the pace of the learner. It places more control over learning and its transfer as compared to traditional learning. Autonomy and independence are two main expectations of an adult learner – better sufficed by an eLearning course. In this eBook, we describe how online courses, if developed effectively, lead to their “fame” and preference as a learning choice.

What are your options?

First things first, why would you choose online learning over traditional learning?

eLearning provides a (potentially) “wider” learning environment as compared to traditional learning. Did you ever have the urge to record a LIVE lecture using your smartphone for later use? eLearning materials are available whenever you need them. Think about the deeply seated knowledge that you have not shared with your peers. Research indicates that this tacit knowledge is best expressed through textual media. The eLearning environment provides a text-based knowledge interchange platform that aids in tacit knowledge exchange.

Traditional learning is great for speakers, but often leaves out the introverts who may have valuable information to share. In the absence of an audience, from the privacy of their own homes, introverts can share more feedback and comments than they would in a traditional environment. Also, a traditional environment cannot cater to learning styles and preferences (kinesthetic, visual and auditory learning styles) as much as an online learning environment can. However, learning styles is a hotly debated topic and a great discussion took place both on a recent blog post of ours on eFront and on some LinkedIn groups. For more information feel free to visit our blog post on eFront here

A blended learning environment uses both traditional and eLearning formats. Blended trainings have an online aspect that is to be completed at the location of the learner. The traditional aspect enables the group to discuss their online learning content and experiences.

Determining the format of your delivery will enable you to design and allocate resources accordingly.

Why else is eLearning better than traditional learning?

We bring up the question again: Is eLearning your best choice? In a corporate setting, where change is essential and knowledge is superfluous, eLearning is a proven strategy to improve employees.

There are several trends that have fueled the adoption of eLearning in the corporate sector:

Who will benefit from eLearning?

If you are in sales and geographically distanced from your headquarters, a LIVE podcast will explain the latest product in a real-time manner. Or, if you are an equipment operator, you can learn about the latest upgrade through simulation courses.

Customer service interactive scenarios are also popular eLearning courses. Business strategy initiatives like ERP (Enterprise Resource Management) and CRM (Customer Relationship Management) are implemented using eLearning training platforms to proliferate their use for business efficiency.

If you compare your business to your competitors, training using customized training materials will give you a superior edge and confidence. Also, if there are certain ways your company does things, you should teach those to your staff using eLearning tools. As a training manager and aspiring eLearning developer, ask yourself this question: What can make you go through a book or a course? A natural sense of suspense and mystery, as to what happens next.

What will keep your learners asking for more? Learner-responsive learning material and learner-preferred format (synchronous, asynchronous etc.). Organize materials according to the learners' capability and learning styles. For example, senior members of your organization need opportunities to “skip” materials to “advanced” section. They have separate learning needs from the younger groups. Plan learning according to the ages and stages of the learner.

What tools will you need?