“We need to bring learning to people instead of people to learning.” Elliot Masie, Masie Center
Let’s start by talking of some, truly staggering numbers. Technavio predicts that the global eLearning market will touch $31 billion by 2020. If GM insight is to be believed, that number is a significant underestimation – their own research puts this at $165 billion in 2015 and growing to $240 billion by 2023. The difference could be because the way eLearning is defined so let’s concentrate the focus a bit. Looking at self-paced eLearning alone, Ambient Insight estimated the market size to grow from about $32 billion in 2010 to $49 billion in 2015. Whichever way you look at it, this is a business that is expanding at pace. It’s logical to assume that the folks who consider eLearning, do so with a view to supplement or supplant their classroom learning. So how exactly does eLearning score over classroom learning?
The obvious advantage is the ability to become independent of geography, especially for organizations that have employees located across multiple locations or a significant number of employees on the field. The benefits are especially great when the learning must be applied to the employees, who are at work in remote locations.
An effective argument can be made that eLearning is more cost effective than classroom learning. You don’t need the classroom infrastructure and not quite as many trainers. The use of a variety of free resources and open source tools makes eLearning even more affordable. The cost advantage becomes even starker when you consider that with eLearning, a greater scale can be achieved – the cost is spread across many more learners.
With eLearning, you can maintain a uniform standard independent of the capabilities or biases of the trainers at each location. Everyone accesses the same course and the only variable is the learner.
This brings us to the learner, and this is where the greatest advantages may lie. A well-designed eLearning course is “learner-driven rather than instructor-driven”. For one, unlike in a scheduled classroom session, the learners can access the course when they want to, from wherever they want to – essentially “on demand”. In a time when everyone is busy and running on tight timelines, this is a tremendous benefit. This allows the learners to plan their learning based on their schedule rather than having to structure their schedule around the class.
The other great advantage is, the learners can access the elements of the course at their own pace. This “self-paced” mode allows them to spend time on individual elements based on their specific understanding. This is preferable over being forced to go at a speed decided by the instructor based on an assessment of the overall level of the cohort of learners.
Strange as it may seem, in this somewhat an impersonal online mode. It also usually follows that the individual learner comes into focus. There is a chance that for personality reasons or because of poor communication skills, an individual may be overshadowed in the classroom, especially a large one. This can be avoided in eLearning as the learner interacts with the course, the content and through that, with the instructor. This helps create a level playing field for all the learners.
Technology is advancing in all sectors, especially revolutionary changes in the consumer internet and mobility space. These are making life and work better for all of us daily. Going the eLearning way allows the organization to tap fully into the latest technological advances. Much has been written about how mLearning today is looking to leverage the considerable power of smartphones and mobile networks to spread even wider. New technologies such as Big data, analytics, and artificial intelligence are being brought to bear to make training and learning highly personalized and relevant to each individual learner. This can only make learning more accessible, engaging, personalized and ultimately more effective.
Donna J. Abernathy said, “Online learning is not the next big thing, it is the now big thing.” We think this post lists several reasons just why that could be so.