We live in an incredible information age. We have smartphones more powerful than the computers NASA uses in the rovers and satellites sent into space. Virtually any type of content can be instantly accessed from the web, anywhere and anytime we choose.
Like virtually every other professional field, technological innovation has impacted organizational learning in significant ways. We see the rapid advancement of e-learning not only impacting corporate learning, with new web-based training options surfacing on an almost daily basis, but also at the academic level as centuries-old models used by institutions continue to be challenged and disrupted.
Fortunately for students, most institutions are embracing these changes by offering more online learning options in tandem with traditional approaches. One question we might ask ourselves, therefore, is why el-earning isn’t advancing even faster within organizational learning and development circles?
According to the American Society of Training & Development’s 2013 State of the Industry Report, less than 40 percent of training is being delivered using technology. While this number is certainly on the rise, it’s surprising that it’s not higher given that working professionals, and the organizations they serve, rely on technology for so many facets of their work today.
The same report found that organizations spent an average of $1,195 per employee on training in 2012. For a company of 100 employees, this equates to more than $120,000 – a sizable expenditure for a small to mid-sized company. No doubt the high costs associated with employee training are driving many decision makers to look beyond traditional learning and development methods such as event-based classroom courses and closed, vendor-hosted learning management systems.
Those that look beyond these costly (and sometimes ineffective) methods will find a number of cloud-based online learning platforms that have significant advantages for organizations and their employees. Using newer open platforms, students are able to select from thousands of high-quality online courses without organizations having to devote resources toward developing and managing course content, licensing software from vendors, or worrying about IT integration and infrastructure upgrades that often accompany traditional learning management system implementations.
Newer e-learning platforms may also enable affordable, private, live interactive learning and training options such as hosting a private online academy for global or remote employees, franchises, dealers, distributors, partners, or clients. As workforces become more global, online corporate training makes it easy for organizations to offer professional learning and continuing education without worrying about travel or infrastructure costs.
Online training offers adult learners the ability to manage their training on their terms and their time. Most working professionals find it hard to make education a priority given all-consuming job and family responsibilities, as well as life’s other demands. This notion of convenience is one reason we are also seeing more demand for mobile learning applications.
Tablets in particular are proving to be a useful device for the adoption of mobile learning in the work place, with a rapid increase in the adoption and use of these devices in organizations. Not surprisingly, reasons for adoption include portability, convenience, and the ability to service mobile or remote workforces.
It’s not all about ease-of-access though, as even the most convenient approach is flawed if people are not able to advance their knowledge, retain information, and put it to use in their jobs.
According to a study by the U.S. Office of Education, evidence shows that online learning can have a strong impact on learning outcomes and, in certain situations, benefit students even more so than traditional, classroom-based instruction.
The flexibility of newer online platforms also enables content to be delivered in various sizes and formats. Educators as a result can modify content at the drop of a hat, and serve up bite-sized pieces whenever and wherever needed.
Edited by Maurice Nagle