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Can Your Employees Really Learn with E-Learning?

Yes, research shows that e-learning works just as well as classroom learning.

Some things can be more effective when done in a class- room environment.

You can use e-learning to teach almost anything that a business needs to teach.

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Research studies sponsored by businesses and universities indicate that e-learning works about as well as classroom learning. (That doesn’t mean that classroom learning was ever 100 percent effective, of course.) But it’s good to know that education quality need not degrade as you move to e-learning.

Now it’s true that, in specific cases, you’ll have employees who will find it difficult to learn in an e-learning environment— just as some people have problems with virtual meetings over the phone. Usually, this is a small percentage of your employee population.

So, your expectations should be that e-learning can handle essentially the same training work as classroom learning. But while you can teach almost anything with e-learning that you can in the classroom, there are still a few constraints you’ll need to use your judgment about. Some learning situations lose a lot of effectiveness without face-to-face interaction. For example:

Exercises in a “learning to negotiate” course are much more effective if the instructor is in the same physical space as the student. The same goes for some of the workshop exercises of sales training. Or anything else that really demands one-on- one, face-to-face interaction.

Lab exercises for some tasks need access to the real hardware. A student can learn to repair a copier or learn to change a tire more effectively if she can physically manipulate the item.

Now that doesn’t mean that e-learning can never be used in these situations. It only means that you’ll have to take extra care when you want to apply e-learning to them. You might be faced with a situation where you simply can’t get the students into the classroom—then you’ll have to decide whether you can live with the partial results that e-learning might give you.