E-learning vs. classroom training: why is it worth using online training in your company?

February 3, 2020 Aneta Stokes

Kate is responsible for organizing the training in a large corporation. She finds the instructors and places where training is conducted, prepares the agenda, and registers participants. If the training takes place at the company’s headquarters, she organizes the catering; if it involves a trip, she organizes accommodations. She juggles costs and expectations, often dropping one of the balls — especially in situations when the budget is hard to manage. She responds to hundreds of emergencies relating to the instructor falling sick, the need to change the location, the late registration of participants, cancellations, dietary and even cultural requirements…

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Classroom training: is it really the best?

In such a logistically complex process, there’s little room for individual training needs. Employees, who are often reluctant to take a long break from their duties and find many hours of training tedious, have to adapt to the busy schedules of their instructors. For instructors, on the other hand, it pays to spread a course over several hours of intensive sessions, after which they can pack up their presentations and move on to the next one. What about regular but short training sessions that allow participants to reflect on and implement information?

They don’t appear in this arrangement, which, despite everything, still has many advocats. These people argue that a meeting with an instructor, the opportunity to ask questions, and integration in a group are the best ways to expand employees’ knowledge and competence. Therefore, those things justify the cost. Yes, may be they do, but there’s no guarantee. Kate also analyzes the participants’ survey responses about the course, and these don’t always sing its praises. The participants complain about the size of the group, the trainer’s middling teaching skills, an excess of theory, poor accommodations, and even about it being a complete waste of time — sometimes at the start of a few days’ training they discover that it’s going to be less useful than they assumed.

Online training as an alternative

No wonder that Kate’s superiors are increasingly opting for an e-learning alternative. Since it’s possible to achieve similar or even better results, while foregoing a huge and very expensive undertaking, which also has to be organized time and again, such decisions are not surprising. Today 90% of employees of large organizations have access to online courses. Companies spend more on online training, the number of tools used is increasing, and platforms and training programs are developing. Other than the compelling argument about saving time and money, does e-learning have any other advantages? Yes, it does.

E-learning stands out

Imagine Jack, a sales representative of a large pharmaceutical company, who spends most of his working day traveling. He has a lot of knowledge and experience; if he finds a gap in this knowledge, he can easily fill it, actively looking for the information he needs. Let’s imagine that instead of sending him on a three-day training course, Kate assigns him an online training path, which he can review anytime, anywhere. The courses are short and can be easily accessed on his phone. They’re built according to the philosophy of microlearning, which serves more experienced employees well. Sometimes they come in a form of a video, sometimes a presentation, or sometimes an exercise. They’ve been designed to meet the needs of the target group to which Jack belongs, and show only the content that is relevant to him and to resolving his problems. Doesn’t that sound appealing?

Imagine Lucy starting out in a big corporation. The first month is mainly onboarding, consisting of numerous meetings and hours of obligatory training. Let’s assume that Lucy can find some of these trainings by logging in to a platform. She goes through them at her own pace, coming back to the information she’s interested in and skipping the things she already knows. If the training is well designed, Lucy has access to examples, exercises, and additional resources. And if she needs a break, she simply takes one, without waiting for the decision of the instructor or the whole group. Doesn’t this make finding her feet in the company easier?

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Large and medium-sized organizations turn to e-learning courses, with the benefits for employees and financial savings in mind. The latter is indisputable: even if the production of a specific training course is expensive, the investment pays for itself after training just a handful of people. And yet, one good training can benefit thousands of employees for years to come! That’s not all. E-learning also covers a variety of tools and forms: games, decision trees, knowledge pills, videos, animations, podcasts, presentations… An experienced course designer knows which ones to utilize and what content to fill them with in order to best meet the needs of the users and the organization’s business objectives. See for yourself!

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