Weighing in on the debate about e-Learning
Pros & Cons
I think I’ll weigh in on the debate about the pros and cons of computer based e-learning vs traditional classroom delivery. This debate has been going on for a quite a while, and is a question that often arises when we talk to our customers and prospects. I’ve listed the pro’s and con’s of e-learning below, as I see it:
|Pro’s of e-learning||Con’s of e-learning|
|Flexibility – able to provide content at any time, from any location||Difficult to motive learners who procrastinate or are easily distracted (social media, email, etc.)|
|Reduced costs (no instructor rate, venue and travel)||High cost for upfront investment of course development, even if developed in house|
|Organizations can host its own content, track learners progress and make course updates on the fly||Must have the technical ability to host, support and trouble-shoot learning activities and documents|
|Consistent course delivery to every participant||One-size fits all does not address different learning styles for audience|
|Learners can learn at their own pace – either faster, or taking their time, without impacting other learners||If a learner becomes confused for lost in subject matter, there is no one to turn to|
|Appeals to the youngest, most technologically advanced audience||May provide challenges to older generations, not as comfortable with technology|
|Students can learn on their own||Students do not have benefit of interactions with peers and instructors|
|The organization can build in testing and completion controls||The organization cannot tell whether learners understand or can use information presented|
|Good for knowledge transfer (process activities, computer courses, step-by-step learning, etc.)||Poor for skills-based learning (managing people, resolving conflict, developing successors, etc.)|
Successful e-learning is not just posting PowerPoint slides on an intranet and providing access! Most organizations want to adopt e-learning for financial reasons, which although important, does not necessarily mean they will reach their overall goal of increasing their staffs’ competence. e-learning can be developed in a way that addresses multiple learning styles, and addresses some of the above cons, but incorporating these methods in the e-training come at a very high cost.
So, while the debate continues between instructor-led learning and e-learning continues, I would caution organizations to consider their ultimate training goal is to increasing staff competency. We recommend that organizations focus e-learning on knowledge-transfer activities, and continue with instructor-led training for skills based learning.
Merri co-owns Lemmex Williams Training Inc., originally founded in 1979, where she develops and teaches management and leadership skills (www.lemmexwilliams.com).
(photo credit – Richard Lewis Communications, www.crossculture.com)