E-Learning is a teaching and training methodology that facilitates and enhances learning by using technology. Any training methodology when combined with technology, especially ICT, comes under this definition. Computer-based training (CBT), Web-based training (WBT), Mobile learning, even video-based training are categorized under the banner of E-Learning.
However, merely adding audio to PowerPoint presentations and publishing them into an online format or uploading recorded lecture sessions online to an LMS, Intranet or a website does NOT make them E-Learning, as these methodologies lack a crucial element – Instructional Design – which facilitates learning. Technology merely enhances it.
The design and development of e-learning is based on sound Instructional Systems Design (ISD) principles, engineered to facilitate and enhance learning (usually self-paced). More specifically, E-Learning entails the following:
Irrespective of the vast and varied differences in how business organizations operate, the products and services they market, and the customers they serve, all businesses have THREE fundamental and COMMON goals.
E-Learning helps ALL organizations achieve these FUNDAMENTAL goals.
To sell more, sell faster and sell better, organizations need to have a well-trained sales force. With the proliferation of new products, intense competition, huge global markets and highly knowledgeable customers, today's sales people need to learn more, faster and better about their products and services than ever before. E-Learning is your best bet - delivering training anytime, anywhere and on any device at a fraction of the cost that traditional classroom training incurs.
With increased concern about sustainability and environment and emphasis on ethical business practices and workplace norms, organizations need to comply with myriad laws and regulations, some mandatory and some voluntary. Failure to do so may result in punitive damages and loss of reputation. Traditional training in classrooms, distributing manuals or showing films to employees is woefully inadequate. You just cannot train thousands of employees spread across the world on a mandatory compliance with the usual methods and hope to achieve the required awareness for compliance.
E-Learning provides the best option to train any number of employees very effectively, both in terms of learning and the cost of training. What's more, it can be done in multiple languages. Scenario-based E-learning proved to be a great success for a large number of organizations on a variety of compliance subjects such as safety, sexual harassment and anti-bribery.
The third fundament goal of any organization is to reduce the costs of their operations by becoming efficient in all they do. Organizations constantly reengineer their processes, systems and procedures to improve their productivity. They install enterprise-wide software (such as SAP), pursue Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), adopt Quality standards (such as ISO and TQM) and reduce wastage with Lean Principles. They try to build healthy relationships with their customers with CRM software (SalesForce) and employees with HRIS (WORKDAY). Any such change requires substantial training of staff to get the best return on these investments. Again, E-Learning plays key role in enhancing operational efficiency through training. It helps your people adapt and respond to changes quickly. Self-paced online learning can effectively address this training requirement resulting in huge gains in efficiencies and reduction in costs.
E-learning Curriculums comprise a battery of small, standalone learning bytes that are stringed together. These 10-30 minute courses can be completed easily and in any order, without any assistance from an instructor or collaboration with peers. E-Learning curriculums are best suited for foundational subjects that are essential but lengthy. A wide variety of instructional strategies can be used to make standalone online courses highly engaging.
Classroom training remains the main training methodology used in business organizations world over for its many benefits even though it has as many disadvantages such as high costs. E-Learning can be used to minimize classroom training costs as well as to enhance its effectiveness. E-Learning can be "blended" with classroom training either at the beginning (pre-work via e-learning) or at the end (final quiz via e-learning). It can also be used during the classroom sessions (web trips and multimedia teaching aids). This approach is very useful when your training needs cannot be met by the classroom or online medium alone. For example, if you need to train your employees on a complex software application, you can use a blended approach of classroom sessions and simulation-based online exercises.
Job aids are used to provide just-in-time (JIT) performance support at the point of executing the task. By delivering nuggets of information on mobile devices, you can ensure that your people get the right information, at the right time, at the right place, in the right quantities.
Organizations operating globally can reduce their training costs substantially with E-learning. It is estimated that organizations can save 50 to 70 percent when they replace classroom training or blend it with e-learning. More over, these organizations operate in hundreds locales. Organizations need to train a culturally and linguistically diverse workforce effectively - and translating e-learning courses into the employee's native language is the best way to do this. Your training effectiveness will multiply when the content is translated and localized into region-specific languages to fit into the culture of the target audience. The process of online learning course translation and localization involves various steps, which need to be meticulously adhered to to ensure fidelity with the original.
E-learning authoring tools are software tools used to develop e-learning courses faster and with a high quality of functionality. These tools have a slew of in-built features to help instructional designers build engaging e-learning courses. They reduce e-learning development time and costs. The most popular authoring tools in the market are Articualte Storyline, Lectora and Adobe Captivate.
HTML5, a new version of HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) comes in handy to develop E-Learning courses that can be viewed and run on all devices (computer, tablets and Smartphones) and all web browsers.
An LMS is a software platform that is used to host and deliver training programs to employees anywhere in the world who can access them through a web browser. An LMS also takes care of tracking the progress of learners, maintains training records and generates reports of the training function.
Everyone knows that training improves the topline and the bottom line. They also know that there is a lot of wastage in training. But no one knows which part of training was useful and which was a waste. Evaluating training effectiveness and trying to estimate the return on investment has always been a vexing problem to L&D managers. E-Learning is most amenable among all the training methodologies to calculations of ROI. It provides Level II (learning) of the Kirkpatrick’s model of evaluating training effectiveness.