Technology has opened endless opportunities for innovation in all areas of life—from how we do business to how we manage our personal relationships. It’s also transformed the way we learn. According to a study by the National Center for Education Statistics, even though national college enrollments are on the decline, online learning enrollments continue to grow. There likely are many reasons for this—from cost and convenience to the changing population’s preference for interactive, online experiences—but the trend is eye-opening, and it isn’t limited to universities.
More professional educators and corporate trainers are utilizing at least some online learning in their courses—and for good reason. While classroom environments aren’t going away, online learning offers numerous benefits on both sides of the training experience. Here are our top five:
1. Personalized, self-paced learning
Just as no two snowflakes are alike, no two employees learn the same way. Each comes pre-loaded with his or her own knowledge, skill, experience, attention span and engagement preferences. While one may need every detail spelled out, another may be bored with content covering areas they already know well.
Online learning allows employees to move through training at their own pace, according to their unique needs. Trainers also have more options to cater modules to specific learning styles. With access to formats like videos, presentation notes, scenarios, games and quizzes, learners can engage with your content in the way that works best for them.
2. Flexible and mobile access
With deadlines, absences and conflicting meetings competing for everyone’s time, scheduling training in a single office is difficult enough. Try doing it for multiple offices around the globe. Online learning allows training to happen anywhere at any time. Employees can access modules individually at work or at home, on their desktop, phone or tablet—and complete their training at a time and place that is convenient for them. This not only streamlines scheduling, but also creates a more relaxed and successful training experience for learners—which can boost completion rates and knowledge retention.
3. Measurable, data-driven results
Return on investment is a key driver for every corporate decision—and that goes for training too. Measuring the effectiveness of training is essential to continuing improving outcomes and securing leadership buy-in. Online learning allows you to build reporting mechanisms into your courses and assessments, so you can pull data reports on everything from assessment scores to course completion rates in a snap. This also makes record-keeping and monitoring easier, letting you know at a glance whose training completion is still outstanding, who needs re-training and more—all without excessive legwork and paper trails.
4. Interactive and adaptable content
While classrooms offer plenty of opportunities for social interaction and real-time feedback, it can sometimes prove challenging to get every learner involved and engaged. And some content requires more than straight instruction. If you’re training machine operators or crisis managers, for instance, a simple presentation may not suffice. Online learning allows you to create interactive content, like practice simulations and video scenarios, that allow learners to demonstrate new skills. Or you may choose to bring elements of Gamification and Microlearning into your courses to create social, reward-driven modules that keep learners motivated and moving through your content. Without the limitations of physical space, materials or access, the possibilities for engagement are almost endless.
5. Long-range cost and time savings
Though the initial setup for your multimedia, online learning sessions can be costly, what you end up saving in time and money down the road will more than make up for it. Classroom training often requires a wealth of expensive printed materials, facilitator and venue costs, catering and more. With online training, those costs are dramatically reduced, if not eliminated. In addition, you’ll likely find it faster and easier to make ongoing updates and additions to online content—without the turnaround, cost and waste of producing additional physical materials. Best of all, since online learning can reach well beyond a single location, you’ll save big on travel time and expenses. These are just some of our favorite reasons for adopting online learning into your corporate training. But the best reason of all may be that embracing online learning ensures your business is aligned with the needs, expectations and preferences of today’s learners—and tomorrow’s workforce.