Training and development delivered via electronic methods e-learning offers the chance to deliver training at far reduced cost than traditional methods which require physical space and provisions, such as equipment and refreshments. One of the biggest challenges of e-learning is ensuring the way the training is delivered is effective and that employees retain key information.
There are number of ways that e-learning can be delivered, such as email, smartphone apps, video streams, VoIP technologies like Skype and social media channels.
E-learning provides an excellent platform for organizations to maximize their productivity and human resource potential. It provides good opportunities for content and course providers. The process has an embedded learning management system that enables learners to perform a variety of activities including content creation, tracking, reporting, and management of the learning function.
Following requisites need to be provided before launching e-learning online:
- Sufficient top management support and funding needs to be committed to develop and implement e-learning.
- Managers and HR professionals need to be RETAINED to accept the idea, that training is being decentralised and individualised.
- Current training methods (compared to e-learning are not adequately meeting organisational training needs.
- Potential learners are adequately computer literate and have ready access to computers and the internet.
- Sufficient number of learners exist and many of the self-motivated to direct their own learning.
- Informal Learning:
In this type, a learner accesses a website or focused online community and finds pertinent information. This type of e-learning is not training because it does not include a formal instructional strategy consisting a presentation of material, application exercises, and feedback.
- Self-Paced Learning:
It refers to the process whereby learners access computer based training (CBT) or Web-based training (WBT) materials at their own pace, normally on a CD-ROM for CBT or over a network or the Internet for WBT. Learners select what they wish to learn, decide when they will learn it, and set the pace of their learning.
- Leader-Led Learning:
Unlike self-paced learning, this type of e-learning always involves an instructor, coach, or facilitator. There are two basic forms:
(a) Learners access real-time (synchronous) materials via videoconferencing or an audio or text messaging service, such as Internet chat.
(b) Learners access delayed materials (asynchronous) through threaded discussions or streamed audio or video.
- Performance Support Tools:
This is an umbrella term for online materials that learners access for help in performing a task, especially related to software. Performance support tools normally lead the user through the steps required to perform a task.
Advantages of e-learning are:
- It is self-paced and allows for consistency and incorporates built in guidance and help.
- It is interactive, tapping multiple trainees senses.
- Allows for consistency in the delivery of training.
- Enables scoring of services / assessments and appropriate feedback.
- Incorporates built in guidance and help for trainees, to use when needed.
- It is relatively easy for trainers to update content.
- Can be used to enhance instructor led training.
Disadvantages of e-learning are:
- May cause trainee anxiety.
- Not all trainees may be ready for e-learning.
- Not all trainees may have easy and uninterrupted access to computers.
- Not appropriate for all training content. (e.g. leadership / cultural change)
- Requires significant upfront cost and investment.
- No significantly greater learning evidenced in research studies.
- Requires significant top management support to be successful.
Benefits of e-learning for learners are as follows:
- Creates interactions that stimulate understanding and the recall of information when learners exchange questions during online discussions.
- Accommodates different types of learners and fosters learning through a variety of activities that apply different learning styles.
- Fosters self-paced learning so learners can learn at the rate they prefer.
- Provides convenient access to learning material any time, any place.
- Reduces travel time and travel costs.
- Encourages learners to browse for information through hyperlinks to sites on the World Wide Web.
- Allows learners to select targeted and appropriate material on the Web.
- Provides context-sensitive help through performance support tools.
- Develops technical abilities required to use the Internet.
- Encourages learners to take responsibility for their learning and builds self- confidence.
Benefits of e-learning for instructors are as follows:
- Provides convenient access for instructors any time, any place.
- Allows pre-packaging of essential information for all students to access and frees instructors to concentrate on high-level activities in the delivery phase.
- Retains records of discussion and allows for later reference through the use of a threaded discussion or streaming video.
- Generates more personal gratification for instructors through quality e- learner participation.
- Reduces travel and accommodation costs associated with training programs.
- Encourages instructors to access up-to-date resources on the web.
- Allows instructors to communicate information in a more engaging fashion than possible in text-based distance education programs.
Benefits of e-learning for managers are as follows:
- Provides automated, continuous assessment and reporting of employee participation and progress.
- Reduces capital costs associated with traditional bricks-and-mortar schools and training facilities.
- Reduces costs of learning materials, mailing, and telephones associated with distance learning programs.
- Allows access to the same materials through a variety of platforms such as Windows, UNIX, and Mac through the use of html files in a browser.
- Creates more consistency in the training program through a template approach.
- Creates a one-stop shopping center through training coordination software to offer courses from across the organization.
- Provides access to leading instructors worldwide.