In spite of the powerful and potent advantages that e-learning can provide, several businesses remain sceptical and believe traditional training methods are just as effective in teaching staff new knowledge and information.
But even if you throw scientific studies or in-depth research in front of these doubters, they often come back with arguments over the financial implications of e-learning and how much investment it requires.
Thankfully, e-learning has the answers to these questions as well. In fact, calculating the ROI of this training method can also help to measure its effectiveness too. So, what frameworks and metrics exist to determine just how beneficial e-learning can be?
In order to collect and acquire the broadest perspective possible into e-learning effectiveness, it is imperative to measure multiple factors. The main ones are:
Employee feedback - First and foremost, collecting feedback from employees can help to understand how well the training was perceived. Members of staff should be asked if the course was a valuable experience and whether they liked the topics, materials, and how it was presented. However, it is important to remember that although valuable, these opinions do not have a significant or tangible impact on the organisation’s e-learning goals.
Tests and evaluations - In addition to opinion, measurement must also try and find out whether the workforce’s knowledge has actually increased as a result of e-learning. Once again, this must be approached with caution, as certain members of staff might be able to apply their new expertise in a test situation, but struggle to do the same at work.
Control groups - Along with speaking to and testing employees that participated in training, it also helps to assess members of staff who missed out too. This control group can help determine whether there are any correlations between the two. But in the past, this measurement has only been applicable for simple and short-term processes, which means the control group method can be somewhat insufficient.
HR metrics - So far, measurement metrics have primarily concerned short-term knowledge retention, but by delving into data from HR you can see whether e-learning has had an affect on employee retention, satisfaction, and loyalty too. Even so, other factors such as income, career prospects, and corporate culture may be more important to your workforce anyway, which can’t always be changed by e-learning.
Conduct any one of these exercises and you can gain a worthwhile insight into the effectiveness of e-learning. But the only way of discovering whether it truly changed the behaviour and capabilities of staff is to carry out all four. What’s more, this should also give you answers about your return on investment too, assuming you know what costs are involved with this training technique.
For all the free courses that exist online today, most e-learning will require some sort of investment. After all, 70 per cent of employers don’t even trust the credibility of free online course completion anyway. But what costs can you expect to incur when building an e-learning solution?
People - It may involve the use of digital media for training purposes, but people power is still required to create an e-learning course. This can be a combination of both internal and external consultants, as your staff may know what needs to be taught but cannot develop the necessary programs or software. You will also need to value the time of staff that actually take part in e-learning, as they could be away from their position for prolonged periods of time.
Technology - Seeing as e-learning is completely dependent on technology, this is bound to be another major expense. Some companies may even need a tailor-made solution that seamlessly integrates with their existing IT infrastructure. However, others might be able to adopt a fully functioning system that simply requires a change in course content. But with over 500 Learning Management System vendors on the market according to Bersin by Deloitte, you won’t struggle to find a provider to suit your unique requirements.
Content - Don’t assume that teaching materials from previous training can be used for e-learning, as classroom-based content presented on a computer screen kind of misses the point. Costs associated with content will need to take into account development as well as creation. You may also need to think about how content could be changed in the future when new products are released or updated regulations come into affect. But most e-learning courses can be amended with relative ease.
If you have already established a fully functioning training programme, you may think that all this expenditure is too costly and simply unnecessary. But you must look to the long-term with e-learning, as it can potentially pay for itself several times over thanks to the following savings:
No travel expenses - This is one of the biggest reasons why large companies are starting to adopt e-learning. Employees can participate in training at their place of work and don’t need to travel to a specific location.
No need for a teacher - Regardless of whether it’s an external consultant or internal member of staff, the teacher tasked with training is no longer required.
No loss of work time - Employees can choose to learn at anytime and virtually anywhere. If e-learning courses are available on smartphone and desktop, members of staff can receive training on their daily commute or at home after work.
More flexibility - With traditional training, employees often struggle to learn as they are forced to swallow information within a rigid schedule. But through e-learning, more flexibility means that multiple training sessions, which could end up costing lots of money, are eliminated.
More personalisation - With the ability to absorb new information at their own speed, employees will become more efficient learners.
So, along with the fact that e-learning can be a more cost-effective training solution, it also has the power to increase the efficiency and speed of knowledge acquisition, wherever and whenever employees decide to participate.