With the dawning of the New Millennium back in 2000, it became increasingly clear that the 21st century would be the Digital Era. The explosive growth of the Internet and the World Wide Web, the ubiquity of mobile devices and being constantly “connected,” the rise of powerful cloud computing capabilities that allow more companies to offer robust applications. All of these intertwining technologies have thrust eLearning into the global spotlight and transformed it from something that was once considered a passing trend a small number of well-heeled corporations could afford to experiment with into the primary way companies of all shapes and sizes are training, educating, and developing their employees. And yet a surprising number of companies have yet to fully embrace eLearning in ways that would allow them to reap all its benefits. This is when it’s useful to review the eight key advantages of eLearning for businesses everywhere in the Digital Era:
Businesses have long known that time is money, but never has this been truer than now. Big Data travels the virtual information highways of cyberspace at lightning-fast speeds. Harnessing and utilizing that data for making better business decisions requires companies to be highly nimble or agile – quick to create and disseminate learning content that allows employees to leverage information into better performance. eLearning is the only way to make this happen at the pace needed in today’s business environment. With the tools and technologies available today, it is eLearning that can be scaled quickly enough to disseminate learning content throughout a company to have a positive impact on the people who need it and thereby the company’s bottom line. One of the advantages of elearning to scale makes it uniquely suited for any company size. All of a sudden any organization can access the same great resources and platforms that only the largest organizations were able to.
There can be no doubt that the Digital Era’s rich communication technologies have greatly enhanced the ability of companies to engage in truly global scales of operation. When a company needs to train, educate, develop and foster collaboration among personnel scattered across cities, states, and countries, eLearning is the only viable solution to make it happen while at the same time reducing or eliminating the costly expenses of bringing people from far-flung corners of the globe together in person, whether they are the learners or the instructors. And the beauty of eLearning content is that it can quickly be tailored to best fit a diverse range of languages and cultural contexts to be truly local even while spanning the globe in its reach.
When a company has to deliver training and educational content to personnel who may be scattered across wide-ranging geographies, pre-eLearning methods often involved multiple instructors delivering the content, with no guarantee that learners were really receiving the same learning experience and content the way it was meant to be delivered. eLearning takes the guesswork out of this process by consistently delivering the same message and content a company needs to ensure that everyone is on the same page. That kind of consistency is in and of itself worth its weight in gold and simply wasn’t feasible in previous decades. Perhaps this is one of the most noticeable advantages of elearning.
With eLearning, companies now have the option to make their training and learning content easily accessible when and where it makes sense to the learner. When learners aren’t constrained by the attendance requirements of traditional instructor-led, face-to-face classroom sessions, when they realize they have control over when and where they engage learning and can complete content at their own pace, they feel much more ownership of their development and growth. They are much more likely to engage and complete the learning programs you need them to accomplish.
When companies take the further step of ensuring that their eLearning content is accessible anytime from any kind of device, whether desktops, laptops, tablets or smartphones, learners have the opportunity to interact with the content during what would otherwise be “downtime” in the form of commuting to and from work, traveling on business trips, attending conferences and meetings, and so on. The advantage of elearning to empower learners can make much effective use of their time, and will be more likely to do so if the content itself is engaging and compelling.
- Higher Knowledge Retention
When learners are handed the reins of their own learning, training and development, which is possible with the flexibility and mobility offered by eLearning, they will inevitably be more engaged with the content, which in turns leads to a much higher rate of retention of the content. That higher rate of retention means employees will be more likely to apply what they have learned on the job, and therefore have a much greater chance of achieving the company’s desired performance objectives. This is where the return on investment into eLearning comes into play and makes the time and effort put into it worth every penny.
- Time and Money Savings
When you think about the high costs of traditional instructor-led, face-to-face classroom learning in the form of paying instructors, paying for travel, paying for physical space and paying for lost productivity from employees who have to step away from their normal duties to attend classes, eLearning becomes the far more attractive and superior solution to meet a company’s training and learning needs, especially when it’s set up in a way that gives learners control over where and when they engage the content.
Any company that is concerned about being more sustainable and reducing its negative environmental impacts would do well to replace as much of its traditional learning programming with eLearning as possible. eLearning allows for paperless learning, which in and of itself is can generate enormous savings. Less travel for learning means greatly reducing the carbon dioxide emissions associated with travel, whether by land or air. eLearning is a much eco-friendlier way to meet a company’s learning and training needs.
The eight advantages of eLearning outlined above are compelling reasons for any company to more fully embrace eLearning as the primary way to train, educate and develop employees in the Digital Era of the 21st century.
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