Elearning is the delivery of training or education through digital methods. Both the content and delivery are digital, generally accessed via devices or platforms of the learner's choosing.
With today's global and remote workforces, elearning is often the only training option available, as instructor-led training can be costly and inconvenient. The flexibility and accessibility of both creating and delivering elearning make it the most attractive option for the L&D function in organizations today.
According to data compiled by portal eLearningIndustry, the elearning market, including investments in technology, content, and services, is expected to surpass $300 billion by 2025.
Why eLearning Makes Sense Today
More than merely a solution for remote workers, elearning makes sense because employees have less and less time for on the job training.
According to Training Magazine's 2018 Training Industry Report, the time employees spend on training has actually been decreasing. Employees received, on average, 46.7 hours of training in 2018, compared to 47.6 hours in 2017.
That's less than one hour per week for training. As such, employees can make the most of it by accessing elearning content on a device of their choosing—perhaps their smartphone—whenever they have downtime. Content that is delivered in small, bite-sized chunks, with short assessments throughout, will make the training more engaging for the learner and more valuable for the L&D manager.
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The Benefits of eLearning
There exist multiple benefits of elearning, and not just for the learner. The entire organization, as a whole, can benefit.
Accessibility is perhaps the most significant benefit and most persuasive case for elearning. When training can be made available wherever and whenever, everyone benefits. The learner can decide to initiate or resume a course whenever there is a suitable break in his or her schedule, using any device of his or her choosing.
Just as we read blogs, watch YouTube, or scroll through social media, elearning provides the opportunity for training to become part of our regular consumption of digital content.
Elearning removes the need to book meeting venues or fly employees to remote locations to attend in-person training sessions. Even if the in-person, instructor-led training were on-site at the workplace, employees would still be pulled away from their daily tasks.
Elearning removes all of that and delivers tremendous cost advantages beyond the savings in travel expenses. Productivity increases, and employees and their managers are not distracted by participation in live training.
Due to the often "close" relationships people have developed with their smartphones and devices, the content consumed on such devices is deemed more personal. Employees can learn via a device of their choosing, and at their own pace and spend as much or as little time as they choose in different learning modules. With advances in adaptive learning and Artificial Intelligence, this personalization in elearning will only get stronger in the near future.
One of the most demonstrable benefits of elearning is its effectiveness. Elearning facilitates the processing and retention of course material much better than other media, including lectures and reading. This is because elearning is often delivered via microlearning or smaller modules that allow the learner to absorb fewer concepts at a time.
This last benefit is more for the L&D manager or instructional designer: elearning allows for courses to be edited or adjusted as they are delivered, based on user feedback. This is not so easy with instructor-led training and printed materials. With a Learning Design System in place, courses that adhere to trusted design principles can be built rapidly and at scale.
Out of 600 companies that participated in the Towards Maturity Benchmark survey, 72% backed the statement that learning technologies, such as elearning and mobile learning, assisted their business greatly in adapting more quickly to change.
Given its usefulness for the learner and the efficiencies it delivers to an organization, elearning will only get stronger and evolve, developing newer, more exciting experiences that engage learners and drive business performance.