Why Include E-Learning in Your Training Program?
By Robert Van Hoof
E-Learning is Foundational to Blended Learning Programs
The phrase blended learning originally referred to the link between classroom style training and e-Learning activities. Although, the first virtual classroom dates back to the 1960s, it wasn’t until the beginning of the
21st century that the term blended learning became commonplace. At that time, the approach of blended learning emphasized using both classroom and e-Learning formats to increase the effectiveness of traditional education programs by incorporating guided, self-paced components, as well as mid-point retention testing.
Today, the concept has grown to encompass a variety of training structures. However, e-Learning is still a primary component of most corporate blended learning programs. In fact, as technology permeates deeper and deeper in everyday life, classroom-style learning often occurs remotely through e-Learning formats such as webinars, web conferencing and video conferencing. Moreover, blended learning is providing greater flexibility in adapting to each trainee’s personal learning style.
Why Use Blended Learning?
A 2013 Kineo survey found that more than 41 percent of global Fortune 500 companies use some form of technology to instruct employees during regular class times. Two reasons why these company administrators find e-Learning attractive:
- Reduced Training Cost — Reports show that up to 85 percent of every dollar spent on classroom training is spent delivering it (instructor time, travel). E-Learning cuts down instruction time by up to 60 percent.
Companies can train staff anytime and from anywhere with e-Learning systems reducing travel expenses. Additionally, the cost of course development and deployment expenses are reduced when e-Learning is used for training programs.
- Improved Productivity — IBM cites that companies who use e-Learning tools and strategies have the potential to boost productivity by up to 50 percent. For every $1 spent, it is estimated that the company can receive $30 worth of productivity.
The real value for businesses is found in creating the right mix of training styles to develop the necessary skills of each team member. Ultimately, the goal is to ensure that the work is completed safely, efficiently and effectively. Therefore, the end result of any corporate training program should be a uniformity of knowledge in how to complete tasks properly.
Blended learning has proven to be the most successful way for businesses to train employees. It ensures that personal learning styles can be catered to while controlling training costs and improving overall productivity.
Dispelling the Accountability Myths
One of the most common myths is that e-Learning has little accountability. The fact is, most online systems actively track the trainee’s progress through the course. These programs also use a variable-question testing method whereby each time a trainee takes the test for a specific course, the test questions are different. This ensures that the student has mastered the required knowledge.
In addition, whether a company purchases pre-made modules for their internal learning management system or subscribes to an all-inclusive online course provider, it must be assured that the content meets current compliance regulations. True quality providers use courses designed by the top leaders in the safety industry and update those courses as regulations change. When evaluating an e-Learning provider, make sure to verify that the product or service purchased offers accountability components.
Case-In-Point for Blended Learning: What’s in the Blend?
Multiple incidents where high-value equipment was being damaged while loading or in transit using powered industrial vehicles.
- Establish new procedures which focus on the desired performance.
- Develop a mnemonic phrase to help operators remember the procedure
- Create video examples.
- Adjust the e-Learning package to reflect the new procedure.
- Establish hands-on recurrent performance exams.
- Reinforce procedures with posters for warehouse and key fobs for all powered industrial vehicles.
A 90 percent reduction of incidents following rollout of the new procedure and training, with zero incidents of damage when the procedure was followed.
Which e-Learning Programs Are Best?
There are a wide-variety of e-Learning options available. To get started, consider company size in relation to the cost of the initial buy-in and course maintenance.
For small to mid-sized companies, the initial buy-in of owning a learning management system can be expensive, requiring the purchase, installation and maintenance of servers and enterprise-level software. It also comes with the long-term expense of developing or purchasing courses and updates. As an alternative, web-based providers offer subscription packages that come with some important benefits including tracking and records management of individual employees.
Large employers may find greater value in owning a LMS. Even so, that does not mean that the company wants or needs to invest in course development. Pre-made courses and updates are available from a variety of vendors. Some will also offer customization options.
For companies that already own an LMS, a blended approach to acquiring new courses and updates may be the best solution. Web-based course providers now offer greater integration with their online catalogs and courses. This has two significant benefits:
- Courses are continually updated for regulation compliance by the vendor which eliminates the need for course maintenance.
- Pay-Per-View models allow a dramatic reduction in cost. This means that if only a handful of employees need a specific course, the company does not need to purchase the full course catalog. This allows per-employee training expenses to remain consistent, predictable and affordable.
Consulting an e-Learning specialist is often the fastest way to evaluate the cost and benefits of each option. Look for a vendor that offers multiple platforms and has longevity in the marketplace to receive the most balanced and unbiased recommendations.
| Robert Van Hoof is the CEO of Strategic Vision, Inc. He has more than 30 years of experience in the development
| of blended and technology-based training programs for multiple U.S. government departments and Fortune 500
| companies, which include U.S. Army, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of the Interior, United
|Technologies, Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne and Duke Energy.
|Mr. Van Hoof can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.