What is eLearning?
It’s likely that anyone who uses eLearning will tell you how impactful and convenient it is. In today’s “always-on” world, eLearning offers many benefits to both learners and organizations. But what is eLearning, exactly?
Whether you’re an eLearning expert or beginner, there’s no denying its popularity has skyrocketed over the past decade. For employers, it offers an affordable, time-efficient way to train employees. In return, employees benefit from convenient training that enhances their skills and knowledge.
It’s also used by organizations to train their partners and customers to increase adoption, retention, and ultimately, revenue. The demand for eLearning solutions shows no signs of fading, with the market expected to reach $275 billion by 2022.
Let’s take a closer look at what eLearning is, different eLearning types and tools, and the benefits it offers your organization.
What is eLearning?
To get started, let’s establish an eLearning definition.
So, what is eLearning?
eLearning, or electronic learning, is the delivery of learning and training through digital resources. Although eLearning is based on formalized learning, it is provided through electronic devices such as computers, tablets and even cellular phones that are connected to the internet. This makes it easy for users to learn anytime, anywhere, with few, if any, restrictions.
Basically, eLearning is training, learning, or education delivered online through a computer or any other digital device.
The History of eLearning
To better understand how eLearning benefits organizations today, it’s helpful to look at its past. Elliott Maisie coined the term “eLearning” in 1999, marking the first time the phrase was used professionally. In the years since, eLearning’s reputation has gone from strength to strength. But what factors have facilitated eLearning in becoming the most popular way to deliver training today?
Some of these factors include:
- The Internet – Prior to the rise of the internet, many relied on printed manuals, CD-ROMS and other restrictive methods for learning and training. The rise of the internet allowed organizations to abandon one-dimensional practices and utilize the flexibility of eLearning.
- Development of Multimedia – As eLearning progressed, the ability to integrate elements such as images, videos, audio and graphics proved to be a more reliable way of keeping learners engaged compared to traditional learning.
- Affordable Digital Devices – Considering the first IBM computer cost the equivalent of almost $5000 today, it’s understandable that eLearning popularity rose as digital devices became more affordable. Mobile learning also hugely facilitated the growth of eLearning.
- Well-Built Learning Management Systems – LMS’s have become more sophisticated, moving from locally installed to cloud-based systems, with organizations increasingly applying them to execute many forms of training. There are many things to consider when choosing an LMS; at a minimum ensure it has the functionality and support you need to meet your objectives and those of your learners.
How to Deliver eLearning
Now that we’ve outlined the definition and history (rise?) of eLearning, you’ll have a better idea of exactly what it is. Implementing eLearning into your organization is beneficial and easy to do.
Whether you want to use eLearning to keep your employees up to date on company policies, or to help your customers better understand your product, there are a number of eLearning methods you can use.
Using an LMS
A learning management system (LMS) is a software application that is used to deliver online training. A great LMS will go beyond this, by providing you with the features and support you need to execute your eLearning strategy perfectly.
Selecting an LMS can be daunting at first, but analyzing your training needs and defining your requirements, should narrow your search significantly. There are several different types of LMS’s that you can choose from, such as cloud-based, open source, commercial, and installation-based.
Cloud-based LMS’s have become the default for online learning as they allow you to quickly create courses, enroll users easily, and accurately report on learner progress.
A good cloud-based LMS should allow you to easily scale your training delivery and be backed by a superb customer success team whose sole objective is to ensure you succeed.
To those new to the eLearning world, SCORM seems like a confusing concept. But we’ll break it down here to help you better understand what it is.
The good news is that using SCORM provides your learner with a more interactive, engaging experience, and allows you greater control over the time spent on your courses.
SCORM is an acronym that stands for Shareable Content Object Reference Model. But don’t let that bewilder you!
Basically, SCORM is a set of technical specifications that were developed to provide a common approach to how eLearning content is developed and used. It standardizes the way in which eLearning courses are created and launched. Most SCORM courses are developed using popular authoring tools and therefore follow a similar structure.
To use SCORM in your eLearning, you need to ensure that you have a SCORM-compliant LMS. Be aware however that SCORM adds extra expense to eLearning delivery due to the cost of using an authoring tool.
However, the benefits of using SCORM within your eLearning courses makes it worth the investment.
Over the past couple of years, xAPI has become the popular new standard for delivering online training.
xAPI is often described as the next evolution of SCORM, as it has redefined some of the fundamental practices of tracking learning experiences. It adds extra performance to SCORM and removes a lot of the restrictions of older specifications.
It offers a level of flexibility that suits today’s fast-paced world. Moderns learners want to learn on-the-go; while commuting to work, or while grabbing a coffee.
xAPI has the ability to track these learning experiences, whether they happen within an LMS or not, in one simple, consistent format. xAPI will essentially give you a holistic understanding of your learners’ experience.
However, xAPI isn’t without limitations. Some organizations misinterpret it’s capabilities and think that using Tin Cin will result in beautifully designed course content. This isn’t the case. The xAPI spec doesn’t improve UX or UI, and won’t modify the design of a course in any way. xAPI only governs how data is tracked and stored.
Types of eLearning Training
People use eLearning for a variety of reasons. Whether it’s to develop new skills or learn remotely, the convenience and accessibility eLearning offers is huge. Here, we’ll explain the 4 types of eLearning training that LearnUpon helps you deliver.
Employee training is the most frequent type of eLearning organizations use an LMS for. Organizations utilize employee training for numerous reasons, such as onboarding new hires and improving employee performance. Training employees using an LMS formalizes training delivery and makes it more efficient.
Compared to traditional training, eLearning more effectively encourages professional development by promoting knowledge and an eLearning culture. Furthermore, your LMS should allow you to create exams, run reports and gather feedback so that you can continuously assess and improve training performance.
Compliance training is a necessity for most organizations. It informs your employees on the laws or regulations applicable to their role and industry. Compliance training is mandatory and tackles topics such as health, safety, and dignity in the workplace. Some examples of compliance training include:
- Diversity Training
- HR Law
- Anti-Harassment Training
Running a smooth compliance training program helps to minimize the risk of non-compliance and maintains your reputation. Your employees will also benefit from a safer, more productive workplace. Furthermore, keeping up-to-date with changing legislation and amending your training materials is made easier with eLearning via a reliable LMS.
The idea of training your customers may seem like an odd notion. But it has profound value! Customer training programs help your customers use and understand your product or service. This type of training is especially popular with software providers.
As well as raising the customer experience, customer training benefits the organizations that run them too. You will experience better customer onboarding, increased engagement with your product or services, and improved customer retention.
Also known as reseller training, partner training gives your partners the tools they need to be successful members of your network. Types of training include product information training, sales training, support training, marketing guidance, etc. Often certified training is a prerequisite to becoming a partner.
Partner training presents many benefits; it can help you engage partners, reduce support costs, scale growth, and protect your brand.
Benefits of eLearning for your Organization
The advantages of each of these 4 streams of training have been briefly outlined, and you’ll now have a better understanding of what eLearning offers you and your learners. Here we’ll talk in more detail about the broader benefits you’ll experience when you use eLearning in your organization.
This is one of the most significant benefits eLearning presents, and probably the most welcome! Traditional training can be expensive and often frustrating to maintain. eLearning removes the need for costly printed training materials and even on-site instructors. If modules within your content need to change, this can be done easily via your LMS without having to print and distribute updated training materials.
Time is precious, especially in a work environment, so why not save as much of it as you can? For employers, eLearning keeps any updates you need to impart simple. Whether you need to implement changes to your training content or company policies, eLearning allows you to easily add them to your LMS. This saves you a considerable amount of time on the organization of reprints, etc. Learners can also save time by accessing content where and when they need to, rather than relying on scheduled training. And you can use your LMS to automate manual tasks, making training management more time efficient.
Improves Performance and Productivity
eLearning allows learners to quickly and more easily complete their training, resulting in improved performance and greater productivity. Learners appreciate that they can participate in training at their convenience. They’re likely to feel more motivated to further their professional goals through eLearning, as it gives them the flexibility to learn at their own pace and from a location of their choosing.
Lower Environmental Impact
More and more organizations are making a conscious effort to reduce their carbon footprint as part of their corporate responsibility strategy. eLearning is an effective method if you aim to have a lower environmental impact. It offers an alternative to paper-based learning and contributes to a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly workplace.
Now that you have a better understanding of what eLearning and its benefits, why not learn more about what LearnUpon’s LMS can do for your organization? Schedule your free trial and demo today.