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E-learning: pros and cons

Digital technology has changed the game when it comes to workplace training. While some employers are happy to jump in head first and adopt e-learning programmes, others are more sceptical, or simply need more information. If you fall into the latter category, then we have just the guide for you.

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This article covers the advantages and disadvantages of e-learning, to help you make the best decision for your business. Let’s get started!


The benefits of e-learning


It's highly convenient

Before e-learning, most training had to be carried out at a set hour and place. With this approach, a lot of time can be wasted travelling to and from training venues. A major advantage of e-learning is that employees can use their personal devices to access training materials at any time. This means that learners can complete course modules on their smartphones or computers when it suits them.

Companies also benefit from this efficient approach to training. Rather than worrying about finding suitable training venues or working around schedule clashes, training managers can simply let employees complete training at their desk or home.

E-learning therefore saves a lot of time and energy for everyone involved!


Companies save money

With traditional training courses, companies can end up spending a lot of money on travel, hiring a trainer and accommodation costs for employees. This is particularly true if the training runs for several weeks or if employees must stay overnight as part of the schedule. Thanks to the nature of e-learning, however, all of these costs are saved!

Of course, e-learning projects do involve their own costs. For example, you may have to spend a decent amount of money when you initially invest in an e-learning platform. But that’s exactly what it is—an investment. You see, once you have a platform like Rise Up, you have access to a wide range of online courses that will revolutionise training in your company.

Given the money it will save you in the long term, it is well worth allocating a budget to e-learning.


Expanded training opportunities

Think about the logistics of face-to-face training. You can only fit so many people into a room; therefore, you can only train so many employees at one time. With e-learning, these limits no longer apply. In fact, online training can be conducted with an unlimited number of learners. This is yet another example of the way digital technology allows you to save time and money whilst still providing high quality training to your workforce.


Freedom and flexibility

As e-learning allows employees to access training at a time and place that suits them, it means their learning experience matches their needs. In other words, they can progress at their own pace and have the freedom to manage (to a certain extent, at least) how each course module is completed. This level of autonomy and flexibility is highly valued by learners.

Furthermore, the fact that employees are no longer forced to fit training into their already busy schedules means that they are more likely to respond well to learning materials and devote adequate time to learning new skills.


Training improves with the learners

E-learning platforms also provide companies with a great wealth of data on how learners are progressing through a training course. Trainers can monitor activity and results in real time, allowing them to help those who are struggling and make improvements to the course where necessary. If a particular section of a module is causing issues for a number of learners, for example, it can be updated to secure better results in future sessions.

In addition, learners have access to their own data, which means they can track their progress and identify personal strengths and weaknesses. This kind of information is incredibly useful as it enables both trainers and learners to adapt their approach to improve their scores.

In this way, the training courses evolve with the learners.


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The drawbacks of e-learning


Of course, nothing is perfect. While there are numerous advantages to e-learning, it does have its downsides. To put you in a position to weigh up the pros and cons for yourself, we cover the main disadvantages of e-learning below.


Computer competency required

As you would expect, in order to interact with online training, learners need to be comfortable using computers. They don’t exactly need to be Bill Gates, but a certain level of digital literacy is required for e-learning. This isn’t a problem in the sense that pretty much anyone can be taught these skills and platforms like Rise Up are very user friendly.

However, people who are not used to using certain technologies can be resistant to trying. This is often because, to a newcomer, such tools can be daunting. The good news is that with a bit of help and encouragement, anyone can become adept at online training courses. As a bonus, improving the computer competency of your workforce will benefit your business beyond the realm of training!


Learners don't interact with one another

The lack of human contact is one of the main weaknesses of e-learning. It can be very tricky to recreate the training room setting of conventional learning in an online space. This is an issue because social interaction can sometimes be a vital component of learning, as discussing course material helps learners get to grips with it.

A platform like Rise Up provides two solutions to this problem: social learning and blended learning. The former is enabled through online features like message forums and interactive whiteboards. These tools allow learners to discuss and collaborate on work in real time.

Blended learning, as you may guess from the name, combines the advantages of all training styles in one approach. Training courses can be conducted both online and via in-person classes. Learners then benefit from the advantages of e-learning (accessibility, practicality, speed), while also enjoying the pros of face-to-face training (social interactions with trainers and learners).


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One-size-fits-all content

A criticism often levelled at e-learning is that the content is not designed with specific learners in mind, so it doesn’t necessarily match the required needs of the individuals taking part. After all, in a classroom training situation, the trainer can tweak content as they get to know each learner on a personal level.

How can creators of e-learning content anticipate future learners’ reactions, the questions they will have, and what they will struggle with? Thanks to new technology, it’s not impossible! Rise Up uses what is known as adaptive learning to take their online training content to the next level.

As learners embark on a training course, activity data (like completion times and favoured learning style) is collected and then analysed to produce a picture of each employee's requirements. The training can then be adapted to suit the individual preferences of every learner.


Misunderstood by companies

Unfortunately, e-learning has yet to be adopted in certain industries simply because some companies remain unaware of the significant advances this kind of technology has made in recent years. Those stuck in the old ways of doing things can also feel a bit lost when confronted with the breakthroughs of the digital world. There is a good chance that if workplace trainers and HR managers were better informed about e-learning, many of them would choose this route for the benefits we’ve outlined above!

As with any new method, there are advantages and disadvantages to e-learning, but thanks to its many benefits, it continues to attract more companies. For those wanting the best of both worlds, a blended learning platform is the ideal compromise, since it combines e-learning and face-to-face training.


E-learning pros and cons: summary


  • The advantages of e-learning include the fact that it saves both time and money, an unlimited number of learners can partake at once, and it enables progress to be monitored at all stages.
  • E-learning also has its disadvantages, such as the need for computer skills, not enough emphasis on social learning, and a lack of company awareness about how it works.
  • The key to meeting the expectations of e-learning enthusiasts while curbing the fears of its detractors is to embrace blended learning!


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