Digital training E-lear­ning pros and cons (and how to make the most of it)

E-lear­ning is extre­me­ly use­ful for trai­ning employees in com­pa­nies. No ques­ti­on about it! And yet we think the trend is cur­r­ent­ly over­hy­ped. Here are the pros and cons of digi­tal lear­ning - a lear­ning and deve­lo­p­ment agen­cy’s cri­ti­cal look at its own busi­ness model.

Digital training August 11, 2023 Janine Kappenberg 8 min

Digi­tal = good?

Some­ti­mes cli­ents come to us con­vin­ced that they need digi­tal lear­ning con­tent. Why is that? Well, becau­se it works so well. And bes­i­des, ever­yo­ne is doing it now!

Not wrong - but not necessa­ri­ly effec­ti­ve. As a lear­ning & deve­lo­p­ment agen­cy spe­cia­li­sing in digi­tal lear­ning expe­ri­en­ces, we are of cour­se con­vin­ced of what we are doing: Digi­tal trai­ning is prac­ti­cal, ver­sa­ti­le, deli­vers excel­lent results and moti­va­tes lear­ners. But not always.

When it comes to trai­ning, we are not fans of stan­dar­di­sed pro­ducts. For the simp­le rea­son that stan­dard deli­vers stan­dard results - if at all. Not every com­pa­ny needs a digi­tal lear­ning plat­form (but most do). And e-lear­ning is not sui­ta­ble for every lear­ning objec­ti­ve and con­tent. Tha­t’s why it’s important for us to talk to our cus­to­mers. This allows us to find out

a) What their real lear­ning objec­ti­ve is

b) what the under­ly­ing busi­ness objec­ti­ve is, and

c) what kind of trai­ning the com­pa­ny real­ly needs to achie­ve it.

Some­ti­mes digi­tal trai­ning is the right choice - and some­ti­mes it isn’t. And we tell our cli­ents the same thing. To give you an over­view of the pros and cons of e-lear­ning and perhaps help you draw con­clu­si­ons for your own trai­ning needs, we have sum­ma­ri­sed the most important points for you.

Advan­ta­ges of e-lear­ning

Did you know that, accord­ing to a repre­sen­ta­ti­ve sur­vey, half of all trai­ning in top com­pa­nies will be digi­tal by 2022?

The­re are many good rea­sons for this, in par­ti­cu­lar

1. E-lear­ning is fle­xi­ble in time and place

This advan­ta­ge is obvious: digi­tal lear­ning plat­forms enab­le lear­ners to learn any­ti­me, any­whe­re. This lowers the bar­ri­er to lear­ning and makes it an inte­gral part of ever­y­day life. Micro­con­tent that works on the move also favours the con­sump­ti­on habits of modern tar­get groups. In other words, eLear­ning is mobi­le-friend­ly - and the­re­fo­re more attrac­ti­ve to employees.

2. E-lear­ning saves a lot of money

It makes sen­se for com­pa­nies to offer a lar­ge num­ber of trai­ning cour­ses, as long as they are of the right qua­li­ty. After all, we need new trai­ning pro­gram­mes all the time to stay com­pe­ti­ti­ve in the digi­tal trans­for­ma­ti­on. For many employees, choo­sing a new employ­er also depends on the trai­ning oppor­tu­nities offe­red by the com­pa­ny. But trai­ning is also cos­t­ly. The­se cos­ts can be signi­fi­cant­ly redu­ced by offe­ring part of the trai­ning pro­gram­me via e-lear­ning. Once deve­lo­ped, a lear­ning plat­form can be used inde­fi­ni­te­ly. The­re are no semi­nar fees for inst­ruc­tors, semi­nar rooms or food and drink. And - no mat­ter how many lear­ners the­re are, the pro­gram­me always cos­ts the same.

3. E-lear­ning encou­ra­ges intro­ver­si­on

Not ever­yo­ne is com­for­ta­ble in a lar­ge room full of other peop­le. For more intro­ver­ted employees, e-lear­ning is a wel­co­me chan­ge from the com­pe­ti­ti­ve pres­su­res of ana­lo­gue trai­ning. They can con­cen­tra­te bet­ter alo­ne at the com­pu­ter and often achie­ve bet­ter results. In addi­ti­on, ever­yo­ne can com­ple­te an eLear­ning pro­gram­me at their own pace - regard­less of who is fas­ter or slower. This pro­vi­des a grea­ter sen­se of achie­ve­ment and moti­va­tes employees to con­ti­nue lear­ning.

4. E-lear­ning pro­vi­des an immedia­te over­view of lear­ning suc­cess

With the right tools, lear­ning assess­ment can be built right into the trai­ning. This is con­ve­ni­ent for lear­ners becau­se they are always infor­med about their own lear­ning suc­cess. For orga­ni­sa­ti­ons, it means they can track the suc­cess of their teams at any time. It also ensu­res that ever­yo­ne stays focu­sed throughout the trai­ning pro­gram­me. This is not always the case in face-to-face semi­nars, whe­re peop­le can some­ti­mes sno­re away.

5. E-lear­ning pro­mo­tes digi­tal liter­acy

The use of digi­tal tools needs to be pro­mo­ted more, espe­cial­ly in tra­di­tio­nal com­pa­nies. Com­pa­nies that have inte­gra­ted e-lear­ning pro­gram­mes into their trai­ning pool are doing this auto­ma­ti­cal­ly. By con­stant­ly using the digi­tal con­tent, employees not only deve­lop their exper­ti­se in the con­tent pro­vi­ded. They also sim­ply learn how to use the inter­ac­ti­ve tools.

6. E-lear­ning offers room for gami­fi­ca­ti­on

Face-to-face semi­nars also offer many oppor­tu­nities for inter­ac­tion - often even more than eLear­ning. But when it comes to gami­fi­ca­ti­on, digi­tal lear­ning expe­ri­en­ces are sim­ply more prac­ti­cal, at least when it comes to enga­ging lar­ge groups of lear­ners. It is easier to crea­te a com­pu­ter game for 100 peop­le than it is to enga­ge tho­se 100 peop­le in a work­shop in a hall. In addi­ti­on, the mul­ti­me­dia poten­ti­al of digi­tal con­tent means that the­re are no limits. Nowa­days, good com­pu­ter gra­phics can depict anything, rea­listic or not - and this adds to the fun of the game.

7. Digi­tal lear­ning crea­tes a sus­tainab­le pool of know­ledge

What many com­pa­nies don’t rea­li­se is the las­ting value of digi­tal lear­ning envi­ron­ments: Not only are they bud­get-friend­ly in the long run, but they also pro­vi­de a pool of know­ledge for ever­yo­ne that can be con­stant­ly expan­ded. This streng­t­hens the lear­ning cul­tu­re in the orga­ni­sa­ti­on and (tog­e­ther with good com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on) ensu­res that lear­ning is accep­ted and prac­ti­sed as con­ti­nuous deve­lo­p­ment.

Dis­ad­van­ta­ges of e-lear­ning

E-lear­ning has many advan­ta­ges and is now an essen­ti­al part of suc­cess­ful cor­po­ra­te trai­ning. Howe­ver, we often advi­se our cli­ents not to use e-lear­ning when a digi­tal lear­ning pro­gram­me does not pro­mi­se the grea­test pos­si­ble suc­cess. The rea­sons for this are

1. E-lear­ning is boring becau­se it is not very social.

Wait a minu­te, wait a minu­te! Did­n’t we just prai­se the gami­fi­ca­ti­on pos­si­bi­li­ties of digi­tal lear­ning envi­ron­ments? Yes, we did - and tha­t’s true. But even the coo­lest digi­tal lear­ning con­tent can beco­me boring if it igno­res an important aspect of lear­ning moti­va­ti­on: the social fac­tor. If I learn alo­ne at the com­pu­ter, I may lack the sti­mu­la­ti­on of other peop­le in the long run. A forum or simi­lar digi­tal exchan­ge for­mat can miti­ga­te this, but not sol­ve it com­ple­te­ly.

2. E-lear­ning requi­res too much self-moti­va­ti­on

If I don’t have a group to spur me on, then the who­le respon­si­bi­li­ty for my lear­ning suc­cess lies with me. This is an advan­ta­ge for some (see intro­verts) but a dis­ad­van­ta­ge for others. Not ever­yo­ne is good at self-moti­va­ti­on. This is not a pro­blem in face-to-face semi­nars.

3. E-lear­ning makes it dif­fi­cult to share lear­ning

As each modu­le is com­ple­ted indi­vi­du­al­ly, e-lear­ning offers few oppor­tu­nities for sharing. This is pro­ble­ma­tic not only becau­se of the social aspect, but also if the­re are pro­blems of under­stan­ding. Lear­ning com­mu­nities are suc­cess­ful not only becau­se it is fun to learn tog­e­ther. They also enab­le rapid mutu­al sup­port in lear­ning issu­es, incre­a­sing ever­yo­ne’s suc­cess. This is exact­ly the way your orga­ni­sa­ti­on should learn and work if you want to remain suc­cess­ful. Ano­t­her important point is that when we learn and work tog­e­ther as a team, we crea­te a real lear­ning expe­ri­ence. Wow moments beco­me pos­si­ble - and the­se are what ensu­re that what has been learnt is real­ly ancho­red. Ana­lo­gue lear­ning events the­re­fo­re often have a grea­ter las­ting lear­ning effect than digi­tal ones.

4. Not all con­tent is sui­ta­ble for e-lear­ning

The­re are topics that requi­re prac­ti­cal work. For the­se, e-lear­ning is sim­ply not sui­ta­ble. But even abs­tract lear­ning situa­tions can often be bet­ter rea­li­sed in ana­lo­gue semi­nars, i.e. when it is not just about stubborn memo­ri­sa­ti­on, but about crea­ti­ve design and deve­lo­p­ment of new things. No amount of e-lear­ning can replace the crea­ti­ve dri­ve that comes from a room full of peop­le eager to try things out. You should bear this in mind when you ask yourself the ques­ti­on: eLear­ning or not?

5. E-lear­ning makes impro­vi­sa­ti­on dif­fi­cult

As low-thres­hold as it is, e-lear­ning is depen­dent on the Inter­net. Now you may object: That app­lies to just about ever­ything in today­’s offices. Tha­t’s true, of cour­se. And of cour­se, ana­lo­gue lear­ning events also requi­re flaw­less tech­no­lo­gy. But: If some­thing does­n’t work, we can quick­ly impro­vi­se tog­e­ther. And impro­vi­sa­ti­on often leads to gre­at things - such as lear­ning expe­ri­en­ces that have a las­ting effect. Peop­le remem­ber a class­room semi­nar whe­re a books­helf fell to the floor. Not necessa­ri­ly the last e-trai­ning cour­se.

E-lear­ning or not - wha­t’s right for you?

Fin­ding the right trai­ning pro­gram­me for a team is not easy. Lear­ning needs, lear­ning objec­ti­ves, bud­get, busi­ness objec­ti­ves, infra­st­ruc­tu­re - all the­se things play a role in your decisi­on. And then the­re’s blen­ded lear­ning, the mix of ana­lo­gue and digi­tal… It’s a good thing we know all about it!

Arran­ge a no-obli­ga­ti­on con­sul­ta­ti­on with one of us now. We look for­ward to hel­ping you deve­lop your uni­que lear­ning expe­ri­ence!

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