The benefits of eLearning

In these extraordinary times, you may have to sell the benefits of eLearning, and fast. Gill Chester has some tips for making the case for taking your training online.

In this unprecedented time of isolation everything in the workplace has changed. One of the biggest challenges is that your ‘workplace’ is probably now your home.  

Over the last few weeks I’ve been chatting to many charity learning and development (L&D) teams about the impact of coronavirus and there have been three key themes.

1. Some organisations are turning to eLearning to deliver vital topics to support staff as their working environments change, and they are asked to take on new or different tasks. For example, most organisations will be supporting staff to set-up  safe workstations at home. Others are having to put together whole training programmes to upskill a new army of volunteers to meet emerging challenges resulting from lockdown.  

2. I’ve also spoken to organisations who are encouraging staff to complete eLearning while working remotely. I’ve even heard of staff completing whole accredited programmes online already.

3. The final theme is people who normally deliver classroom-based training for external clients have had to quickly redesign their courses for online delivery.  They still need to meet contractual obligations and ensure income continues at this difficult time.

How these solutions are being been delivered includes: 

  • Creating new programmes based on existing eLearning modules
  • Rapid creation of new eLearning modules 
  • The use of conferencing tools such as GoTo, Webex and Zoom to deliver live online learning (a topic we will cover in a later article).

If you don’t have an established culture of eLearning – or perhaps it hasn’t worked in the past – then you may have to sell the benefits of eLearning to your stakeholders.  Here are some tips that may help you get that urgent conversation started:

eLearning gives access to most people 

If your staff and volunteers have a computer/tablet and an internet connection, you can provide them with training. At the moment, this is the ONLY way to deliver training for the majority of people in the UK. There are three caveats to this statement:

1. Learners must use an up-to-date browser to access most eLearning modules and online conferencing tools.

2. Your elearning must be built in a way that supports people with access needs. Ensure that tabbing is supported, that screen readers can work, and that subtitles are provided if needed.

Staff must have the IT skills to be able to navigate your learning management system (LMS) and use the eLearning.

eLearning costs less to deliver
Once you have purchased, created or commissioned an online module or live session the ongoing overhead of delivering it will be much less than classroom-based training. If you have an LMS or conferencing tool there will be no extra cost at all. Compare that to the amount of money involved in classroom-based training (travel, catering, accommodation, administration, and trainers fees etc). Of course there are costs associated with purchasing, creating or commissioning eLearning, but this is a one-off cost that, spread across two or three years of delivery, will be less than most classroom-based solutions. 

eLearning gives learners flexibility
Giving learners the flexibility to complete training is always vital, in lockdown this is even more important. ELearning allows people the flexibility to complete training as and when it suits them, allowing them to schedule their training around:

  • Family commitments, home schooling, supporting vulnerable people
  • Scheduled calls and video conferences
  • Focused tasks
  • Daily exercise and breaks to support their mental wellbeing

eLearning allows learners to keep checking back
Elearning also allows learners to go back and retake modules or check their understanding in a way that classroom-based training doesn’t.   

eLearning provides learners with consistency
The experience a learner has in the classroom is dependent on what is going on around them, the input from other people in the class, the trainer’s performance and what has happened that week for the people involved. I remember watching a highly skilled and experienced trainer deliver a terrible training course after the London terror attacks, because he had been so affected by what had happened. I’m not criticising that person: I use it only as an example of how outside events can affect the delivery of a course. With so many things happening in the world right now, eLearning offers the opportunity to deliver training that isn’t affected by the news that day or what is happening in the lives of the people delivering it.

eLearning supports the shift from 70:20:10
As we establish new ways of working, we are likely to see a shift in how people learn. Without the ‘on demand’ support of colleagues, staff will need new ways to access the information they need to do their job. Instead of asking a colleague to show them how to set up pivot tables in Excel, they will be more inclined to google solutions or access relevant courses on your LMS.  


About Gill Chester

Gill Chester is the founder and Director at Little Man Project. She has worked in learning and development for more than 18 years and is the lead developer at Little Man Project. 

The award winning eLearning design agency specialises in working with voluntary sector clients, to develop sustainable solutions to meet their L&D needs. This includes a programme of training and mentoring to help charities create eLearning in-house.


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