e-Learning has become a workhorse for businesses

The worldwide economic recession forced Corporate America and small businesses alike to scour their [tweetmeme]business practices for opportunities to increase efficiency and cut costs.  In many cases this includes how they train their employees and customers.  Fortunately, when it comes to training, the pathway to meeting both objectives is clear. Companies of all sizes are discovering the benefits of online learning management systems (LMS) to deliver training.   Yet despite LMS’s obvious advantages, many companies still cling to the traditional approach to training.   That invariably means strong resistance from tradition-bound managers who are reluctant to try new technologies and who remain skeptical of today’s “blended learning” solutions.

When you consider that the use of personal computers and the Internet for training purposes has enjoyed steady growth and significant technological advances since its debut in the mid 1990s, it’s illogical in business to maintain the status quo of assembling employees in the conference room for training; effectively shutting down production during this time.

e-Learning has become a workhorse for businesses, government and academia recently, now that it is no longer an “electronic page turning” exercise.   Applications such as Second Life and Edusim; virtual worlds where participants actively engage in the learning process have brought new life to the already rapidly growing e-learning environment.  

Almost 80% of executives who employ Web-based training and conferencing cite the elimination of travel costs as an important reason for doing so, according to a recent study of training techniques by Osterman Research, Inc.   This is no small sum either, as much as 40 cents of every dollar spent on in-person training goes to travel and lodging costs. The study also demonstrated an increase by respondents in the use of online training during the previous 12 months.

Many more studies and plain common sense tells us that employees and front line supervisors prefer unstructured, just-in-time learning opportunities to formal training sessions, with information presented in bite-sized morsels precisely when it’s most needed.   Dull instructor-led lecture style classes with the infamous PowerPoint presentation bore them to tears more often than not.  Afterall, it takes a special trainer, with a good mix of engaging activities and the use of multi-media, to stimulate a transfer of knowledge in a classroom.  Unfortunately these instructors are rare. This is why online training meets the needs of today’s multigenerational workforce, especially the 75 million “Millennials” currently entering the U.S. workforce.

Some benefits online learning has to offer include:

  1. Avoidance of travel costs
  2. Increased retention and productivity
  3. Interactivity and Flexibility
  4. Ease of reporting and analysis
  5. Accessible data

Now is the time for companies to reposition their training functions and indeed many companies are trimming staff, cutting most non-strategic training programs, curbing travel and increasing their reliance on web based learning platforms such as LMS’.   The world waits for no one.   As Will Rogers was famously quoted: “even if you’re on the right track, if you just sit there you will get run over.”   Company executives ignore technology at their own peril. Technology is the future, and the future in now.

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