Training in the 21st Century

“Cheaper” Can Be Costly: A Case for Investing in Self-Paced ELearning

Self-paced e-learning is more expensive to create than real-time curricula, but the savings begin immediately and it’s an investment that pays off in multiple ways. Like buying a rug or carpet, you can spend more upfront for something that will really work and be usable for an extended period, or you can buy something that is cheaper initially, may not have the look and feel you want and will need to be replaced within a few years. Most of us have learned that, ultimately, the cheaper choice actually costs us much more in a number of ways.

Self-paced e-learning is an amazingly flexible component to include in any blend of learning tools. But an hour of self-paced e-learning costs much more to create than an hour of real-time curricula (approximately $10,000 compared with $6,000 for design, development and production costs). However, once the e-learning is created and uploaded, there are no presentation costs: no room reservations, no setup or cleanup, no AV specialists, not even a presenter. And there are no travel costs or accommodations required, and no significant work disruptions for attendees. In fact, self-paced e-learning workshops can be a huge benefit, providing just-in-time access to information when it’s needed, whether to learn about something new or to review information that has become fuzzy over time.

Accessible via computers, integrated with Learning Management Systems for easy tracking, e-learning workshops offer training that is available whenever learners are ready to focus on the material. The information is consistently presented, but can be tailored to enable learners to spend more or less time on specific segments, based on their knowledge levels and immediate needs.

E-learning workshops effectively instruct people about a wide range of topics, offering short, in-depth instruction on important aspects of processes, practices, methods and systems. They can also be designed as both prerequisites to, and follow-ups after, comprehensive, real-time training sessions. As prerequisites, they ensure that everyone present in a training event has the same level of background information, so that valuable group learning time is spent gaining new knowledge rather than getting everyone on “the same page.” As follow-ups, they reinforce the ability to utilize new knowledge, allowing instructors to select and emphasize information presented during group learning sessions for review and guidance as attendees begin to apply the new knowledge in real-life situations. Having this kind of learning tool available also helps reduce on-the-job errors and increase productivity by giving employees quick, easy access to best practices whenever they need it.

Effective e-learning workshops offer a variety of effective learning components, including:

  • Synchronized audio, text and graphic images that reinforce comprehension
  • Video clips that demonstrate complex information
  • Interactive and game-like processes that hold learners’ attention while simultaneously testing and reinforcing learning.

Research and experience over two decades has shown that this kind of training is highly effective, often equaling the learning achieved from face-to-face training sessions. The initial investment quickly and significantly begins to save money. By strategically incorporating e-learning into a blended learning program, organizations can drastically reduce the need for face-to-face training, reach a larger audience and provide on-going training to whoever needs it, whenever they want it.

(To see a sample of a short, self-paced e-learning workshop, please click here.)

What cost savings and other benefits have you found from incorporating e-learning workshops into your blended learning programs and/or how do you envision using them in the future?

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