by Hannah von Bank, relationship management assistant
Times are tough, people. Budget cuts, tight timelines, and pressure to get projects done quickly and cheaply are leaving many training and development professionals feeling overworked and under-valued. In this ROI-centered business environment, persuading the powers that be to invest in online learning often seems like an impossibly tall order. Fortunately, there are a number of helpful tips you can use to convince your boss that e-learning is both a cost-effective and learner friendly way to train. Often, it is simply a matter of learning to speak the language of ROI.
Before you meet with your boss, know your objectives and do your homework. Remember, this isn’t a matter of arguing the superiority of e-learning over ILT or any other type of training—all methods of training have their strengths and weaknesses in different situations. However, there are a number of reasons why augmenting your existing training offerings with online courses and/or mobile learning is a smart choice―for your learners and for your company’s bottom line. Now, you know your organization’s unique training goals and pain points far better than I, but here are a number of general talking points you can use to prove your point:
1. E-Learning Reduces Unnecessary Spending
Training new hires on job skills and company policies is a necessity for all organizations and this training needs to be repeated every time an employee is hired or promoted to a new position. While the initial cost of e-learning is generally higher than ILT, consider the savings of adding online components to your new hire orientation program:
- Lower (or eliminate) travel and living expenses – Travel and living expenses make up 40-60% of many training budgets, especially if employees are dispersed geographically. Imagine what you could do with that extra cash!
- Reduce costs for instructors, facilities, and equipment – Why pay to rent a facility, projector, and secure an instructor for every orientation? If you find yourself repeating the same course multiple times a year, consider converting those courses into elearning.
- Eliminate printing costs – ILT requires training manuals for both learners and instructors that must be printed each time a class occurs. Constantly printing and updating the same materials is not only bad for the environment and your wallet, they are cumbersome for learners. Who wants to page through a hundred page binder every time you have a question? Putting these resources in an online platform is cheaper for you, and more easily accessible for your learners.
2. E-Learning Saves Time (and Time is Money!)
E-learning has proven to reduce training times by about half (or more), which means learners can get to where they need to be at work from a performance standpoint far faster than with traditional ILT. People process written material and online activities far more quickly than they can listen to a lecture, and the individual nature of the online platform allows learners to go through and e-learning course at their own pace. Those who know the material well can finish quickly without being bothered by redundant information while those who need extra help have the ability to experiment and ask questions in a safe environment without having to worry about slowing down the learning for the rest of the class.
3. E-learning Produces Results
“The most expensive training is training that doesn’t work” – this is something we say here at Allen Interactions a lot. While there is good training and bad training across all modalities, an instructionally sound e-learning program increases learning retention and behavior change in these ways:
- Everyone can (and must) be an active participant – There are a number of barriers to participation in an ILT class; there may not be enough time for everyone to get a turn and learners may feel shy or embarrassed to ask questions or participate in activities. It is hard to make mistakes in front of a group of your peers, but mistakes are how we learn. An e-learning course is a safe place for learners to practice as many role-plays, simulations, and games as they need to feel confident in their abilities. Plus, you can be sure that everyone participates fully—no more slacking off in the back row!
- Do things that aren’t possible in the classroom – Through the power of simulation, learners can practice operating machinery, talking to clients, cooking food, and much more from the safety of their desk with more repetition than is possible in the classroom.
- Learners are motivated to complete the training – Serious games, simulations, and role-plays can be really fun and by adding elements like a point system, high score table, or “leveling up,” you can harness your learners’ interest and innate competitiveness. If gamification isn’t your thing, the self-paced, individualized nature of e-learning still reduces boredom (the enemy of motivation) by cutting down on the “junk” and forcing learners to be active rather than passive.
4. E-learning Allows for Greater Flexibility
An online course can be taken any time, from anywhere, and from almost any electronic device. A single course can be customized to teach in a variety of languages or to present information relevant to the laws and customs of whatever country your learner is doing business in. Now your employees can learn from home, in the field, or in transit.
Whether you’re brand new to online learning, or trying to increase your organization’s investment in the medium beyond click-through page-turners, I hope I’ve given you at least a couple tips you can take home with you. For those of you out there with more extensive e-learning portfolios and ex, we’d love to hear your advice and best practices! Why do you think it is important to invest in online learning? What fuels your passion? Let us know in the comments below!
For more information on how to impress your colleagues with online learning, be sure to register for our upcoming webinar, 4 Elements to Jumpstart Your e-Learning Designs in 2014.
Hannah von Bank is a relationship management assistant at Allen Interactions. When she’s not sharing her passion for life-long learning, Hannah enjoys painting, experimenting with new recipes, and volunteering as a creative writing tutor for at-risk middle and high school students.