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When To Use eLearning: 5 Times It Makes The Most Sense

Michael Hansen
5 min read

If you are in charge of your company’s training dollars, it’s important to make sure the learning programs you design are thoughtful, effective, and efficient in terms of ROI. If you know when to use eLearning, you can tick all the boxes with training that delivers. As eLearning steps into the spotlight, here are five times to use eLearning and some instances when it may actually be better to look to other training tools.

What are the benefits of eLearning?

The benefits of eLearning for your company are clear. An IBM white paper found that eLearning increased company-wide skills, was cost-effective, and resulted in more efficient product rollout. eLearning is also:

  • Measurable: Learning management software can track targets and objectives to produce measurable results
  • Scalable: When your team expands, your eLearning does too
  • Engaging: These days, the vast majority of the workforce prefers engaging with eLearning

The benefits of elearning are clear

One of the major benefits of eLearning is its customizable agility. Gone are the days of read-a-chapter-take-the-quiz mode of training. You have options for eLearning that include:

  • Gamification
  • Microlearning
  • Geofencing
  • Blended learning
  • mLearning

Which format works for you will depend on you company’s objectives as well as which types of employees are participating.

Regardless of the format, it’s clear that the most effective trainings are being delivered online.

When to use eLearning: 5 examples

If you’re considering a new learning program at your company and wondering whether to use eLearning vs. instructor-led trainings, here are five examples when eLearning is likely your best option.

1. When you have a mobile or remote workforce

A remote workforce or one that works largely out of the office can save money on overhead, but what happens when you need to get them together for training? Coordinating multiple schedules and work obligations (for your company, even!) can feel a bit like herding cats, but eLearning can help.

In many cases, choosing between instructor led training vs. eLearning can be challenging, especially if your company has opted for in-person training for your remote workforce in the past.

One great compromise is blended learning, a combination of IRL and online training. Employees can coordinate in-person training in small groups and then complete eLearning activities on their own before reconvening, almost like a study group. This model has fewer moving parts than trying to corral your entire organization into one physical location.

2. When your entire company needs to learn the same information

If you have been in the workforce for any length of time, you have participated in one of “those” meetings when the whole company assembles to receive information that is crucial but could have been delivered more efficiently (and just as effectively) in another format.

If the information you are delivering is standardized for employees at every level of the company (i.e., regulations, information on products, or procedures for reporting), eLearning can streamline the process and deliver information effectively, efficiently, and affordably.

For example, PetSmart needed to keep employees up-to-date on new products but realized that their in-person trainings were not cost-effective or delivering results. Over 1,400 stores across the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico implemented in-store training labs that not only covered onboarding and other standard practices but also delivered just-in-time information on new products and great customer service training.

Employees appreciated the convenience of the in-store labs, and as customer satisfaction and employee productivity increased, travel costs for trainings decreased.

3. When you’re training vendors or contractors

Vendors or contractors need to be in sync with your processes for bidding, reporting, and other crucial aspects of their work with your company. Because this type of worker is usually off-site (and not formally an employee), you need a form of training that doesn’t require their physical presence but still delivers information about what they need to know.

Using eLearning to train vendors or contractors also keeps them up-to-date on new products, projects, and updates faster than traditional trainings.

4. When you need consistent, effective employee onboarding

Onboarding a new employee can be costly in terms of both time and money. Because of that, it’s important that your company’s onboarding is consistent and effective.

SWCA Environmental Consultants ran into trouble with their onboarding when it became clear that their process was not well-defined. New employees struggled to connect with the company’s mission and core values, due in large part to their worldwide offices spread across a number of different sectors, including energy generation, oil and gas, mining, federal land management, Department of Defense, transmission, and transportation.

A thoughtfully designed self-paced eLearning course solved this problem and consistently transmitted the company’s policies, practices, and core beliefs across different time zones and locations.

5. When you have a large, entry-level group of employees

Entry-level employees are often fresh out of high school or college and enthusiastically ready to jump in, but this can create some friction in terms of company processes and just basic information on how to do the job. Additionally, entry-level employees may do best if they know that there is room to grow with the company.

The solution? An eLearning mentoring program to motivate and educate new employees. Bloomin’ Brands, with over 100,000 employees in 48 states and 22 countries, needed to develop a leadership initiative that would encourage employees to move past entry level into more senior positions. Designed for all employees, their engaging video format was positively received, with employees requesting more just like it.

When not to use eLearning

While eLearning is a great solution to many of the challenges that come with training today’s workforce, there are some instances in which eLearning may not be the best option.

These include when teaching:

  • Complex topics: If your topic requires lots of conversation to understand, eLearning may not be your best choice
  • A physical skill that requires practice: Learning how to roof a house on paper is different than hefting whole sheets of plywood onto the rafters
  • A workforce without access to technology: If your workforce does not have ready access to technology (and you cannot provide it for them), skip the eLearning for now rather than rely on their own devices

If you still have questions about when to use eLearning (and when not to), EdgePoint Learning can help. Get in touch today to see how eLearning might benefit your company.

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