Software is in the DNA of nearly every successful company, and not all of it is oriented towards the end consumer or the general public. E-learning has created a new environment – the digital workplace – and it is often employees who find themselves reaping the benefits (or hindrances) of it.
But is the current state of e-learning helping clients and employees to fulfil their potential? Is there really a ‘one size fits all’ for e-learning? In this blog, we will consider the different types of e-learning and their suitability for businesses.
One size might not fit all
On first glance, e-learning is an HR department’s dream. Training programmes can be placed conveniently as intranet software for anyone with a username and password to access. Some are more advanced than others, but most have one thing in common: they can distribute a great deal of information to a vast amount of people at one time. This can be deemed a ‘one size fits all’ approach because crucial bulletins and basic training can be provided at the click of a button.
But ‘information dumping’, as it is affectionately known online, is not necessarily the most helpful way to train people. E-learning takes many different forms, but one of these forms is the distribution of information through information sheets and PDF files. This can be a lot of information to take in at once, and though it is a quick and efficient way of getting information across, it can also be challenging to pick through and understand relevant information.
People all learn at different rates in different styles. Some are visual learners, some auditory, some kinaesthetic, so different e-learning techniques are needed for the wide variety of employees at different companies.
There is a wealth of e-learning material available
As previously mentioned, the main benefit of e-learning is the ability to distribute a wealth of information very quickly and easily. In addition to information sheets, there are other forms of e-learning available in numerous forms.
Videos are an advantage because they provide a visual aid. They might be beneficial because they have the advantage of showing employees information, rather than just listing facts. For example, a video could show the effective way to lift a series of boxes in accordance with health and safety rules, or how to deal with a fire extinguisher in the safest way. Employees can copy the actions in a video and watch it back in their own time at their own pace, seeing people in similar situations to themselves. E-learning allows for this flexibility in training.
Quizzes are another benefit to e-learning. They can be used in many flexible situations: information sheets, videos, sound bites and other e-learning packages can be followed up with a quiz. This can be either multiple choice or require the user to type something, but both of these allow the user to recall information they have read, seen or heard, which helps them retain the information.
The virtual classroom has changed the way we work
Another development in e-learning is the virtual classroom. This is a more complex learning environment that often involves multiple students, video conferencing, audio links and the use of chat, text input and quizzes. The benefits of this are the opportunity for instant feedback, the ability to tease out ideas and discuss training with other employees, and the fact that it allows real-time learning to take place, all from the comfort of the training room. It allows multiple employees to be trained efficiently and meet other people who are part of the company.
But then again, there is the issue of convenience. For these virtual classrooms to work at maximum efficiency, there needs to be careful planning. Everyone has to schedule time in for the training on the same live feed at the same time. Though the technology is there and readily available, in today’s busy corporate world, live feeds and real-time training are not always completely feasible.
Do we need more support?
One of the biggest issues to tackle with e-learning is to consider how much of the learning is retained and how much is relevant. If HR departments are spending huge amounts of money on training programmes and e-learning, then they need to make sure they benefit their employees.
E-learning is an exceptionally powerful tool, but it needs to be mixed up and used creatively. There is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach. A mixture of information files, sheets, videos, sound bites, interactive games, virtual classrooms where possible and quizzes make learning fun and interactive. The technology is there; e-learning can be convenient, productive and powerful, if targeted in an interesting and relevant way.