When to Use eLearning – An Insight for L&D Managers

We live in a day and age where the use of technology is becoming (and has already become) second nature to many. To be completely honest, whether this is a good or bad thing, we can’t imagine living a single day without using technology. Whether it’s through the work we do, our communication with friends and family, watching YouTube videos or listening to podcasts. Well over half of the world’s population is now online (Kemp, 2018) and the trend isn’t going to stop anytime soon.

As an L&D Manager, you may find that technology is prevalent in your day-to-day life whether it’s through your online calendar, video meetings, webinars, learning through YouTube videos or listening to podcasts. Technology has made a mark in the market and many people can’t imagine their life without it (Lamey, 2018).

What we want to explore in this blog is how to know when a learning solution is best delivered in a technological format such as eLearning.

Is a learning experience more valuable in a traditional face-to-face classroom or through an online platform? Throughout our careers in L&D we have heard a mix of opinions on this question. Some say that for learning to make a real difference, a face-to-face environment is required as it enables interaction and a gauge of the learner’s understanding. Others say that they find completing an online learning experience much more beneficial, as it enables them to complete the learning at their own pace without the pressure of being in classroom. The reality is that both methods work (Barton, 2017), it’s about understanding the pros and cons for each and knowing when to use which.

The team at Belvista Studios has managed both face-to-face and online learning solutions over the years and through our experience we have been able to gain insight into when to use which method. We have also discovered the best of both worlds, also known as blended learning, which involves a solution with both face-to-face and online elements.

Face-to-face courses are useful at facilitating collaborative topics, peer to peer learning, adapting the learning to suit the learners and enabling learners to feel valued and heard. eLearning, whilst being able to achieve these things to some degree, in our opinion, is best utilised for the following circumstances:

You Want to Give Your Learners Flexibility

How often have you booked in a face-to-face course to find out on the day that people are sick or too busy with work to attend? Do you find it difficult to find a free time slot amongst all participants? Hannah spent 3 years of her career organising face-to-face training courses and let her tell you, if she found a time slot that worked for everyone she felt like she had won the lottery (*cue victory dance). People are busy and lining up availability across calendars can be a task and a half. This is when eLearning can be your saving grace.

eLearning can be completed on a range of devices and at any time that is suitable for the learner. It provides the ultimate flexibility and you won’t be dealing with scheduling nightmares, cancellations or a facilitator standing in an empty classroom.

You Learners are in Different Locations

If your learners are based in different locations, eLearning enables a solution that is accessible for everyone.

Rather than making employees travel or even miss out on face-to-face courses due to their location, enable them to experience the learning from the comfort of their work desk or home through an online experience.

The Learning is Compliance Related

If the learning is mandatory due to compliance requirements, it is essential that all learners complete it. Rather than holding a face-to-face session that involves multiple bookings of the same course (to ensure that everyone can attend), you can make your life easier by offering it to everyone though a one-off online experience. Everyone can then complete it when it is convenient for them and you will have digital evidence of attendance.

You Need to Deliver a Consistent Message

Every face-to-face session will be different in one way or another. If you have a range of facilitators, they may all have different facilitation styles and focus on different parts of the content. An eLearning course enables you to deliver identical content to standardise processes across your organisation. This also eliminates the risk of participants receiving a rushed or altered learning experience due to being unable to attend a face-to-face session.

You Need to Lower Costs

The cost of facilitators running a course in a face-to-face context (which can also include travel/parking/venue costs) may have a significant impact on your training budget. If this is the case, you can consider transferring the face-to-face course to an online solution.

Whilst you may lose some advantages from the face-to-face context, you can use instructional design methods to encourage engagement and enable peer to peer learning through an online forum. If you want to keep the live interaction between facilitator and learners, consider a webinar style learning experience.

Do any of these situations align with your learning solutions? We hope that this blog has inspired you to solve your learning needs in the most viable way, whether it’s online or face-to-face. If your learning will gain value from both face-to-face and online methods, why not create a blended solution? This could involve a face-to-face course that offers bite size online learning to facilitate further understanding of each topic in pre or post learning. If you have any questions or would like to discuss your learning solutions with a passionate team, please don’t hesitate to contact our founder Kim Tuohy via Linkedin or send her an email at kim@belvistastudios.com, who would be happy to share ideas of what’s possible.

                                                        References

Barton, S. (2017). E-Learning vs Face-To-Face – What Method Is Better? Retrieved from https://managingsafelycourse.co.uk/2017/08/e-learning-vs-face-to-face-what-method-is-better/ 

Kemp, S. (2018). Digital in 2018: World’s Internet Users Pass the 4 Billion Mark. Retrieved from https://wearesocial.com/blog/2018/01/global-digital-report-2018.

Lamey, D. (2018). The Evolution of Technology: Past, Present and Future. Retrieved from https://www.discovertec.com/blog/evolution-of-technology.

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