Using e-learning in the workplace

There are many benefits associated with an effective workplace e-learning system. In 2008, businesses in the UK were found to be investing £37 billion a year in staff training to continue developing and improving the skill levels of their people.  It is clear that all businesses should be investing in this area, but what are the specific benefits that an online course can provide over traditional classroom based education?

The key benefit to online study is flexibility.  Employees can access content and lessons whenever they want to, for however long they want to.  This means they do not need to waste time travelling to a classroom, and can work at their own convenience.  It allows the training to slot in around their other commitments, which is important for people who are stretched for time.  Many employees prefer learning in this way, and are seen to be more engaged with the material if they have control over when they are able to sit down and study it.

The business also benefits by keeping staff in the office, and allowing them to work from their desks.  In the past, an office could seem deserted if people were training, with a high percentage having to travel to an external destination.  Now, they remain in the office environment, and have the option to pause their learning if a pressing issue comes up that they need to deal with.

Another advantage is the cost, as online teaching methods can be much cheaper than other methods of learning.  This means they can be used to educate more people to a higher level, and create a wider knowledge base across an organisation, and the training budget does not need to be altered in order to achieve this.  Company specific training programmes can also be commissioned and purchased.  Whilst these are likely to have a high one-time cost, they will be useful for many years, and can make training new staff members easy and cost efficient.

An interesting perspective from Chartered Management Institute’s Ruth Spellman suggests that it is only recently that online learning has become truly beneficial and started to open up new possibilities. She says the initial development caused e-courses to deviate from previously content rich CD-ROMs, onto slow and unreliable dial-up connections.  This meant the learning process was simplified and unabsorbing.  Fortunately, these problems are now long gone, and super-fast broadband means media and feature-rich content can be delivered almost instantly.

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