When stakeholders identify the need for a training course, they often wonder whether they should choose eLearning over traditional learning. As an instructional designer, you should be aware of advantages and disadvantages that eLearning provides and share them with your clients.
Some of these advantages include being able to:
- Access courses at any time;
- Take courses anywhere;
- Learn at any pace;
- Go back and review course materials as needed.
Essentially, eLearning is a good option:
- If there is a need to disperse information to a diverse group of people who have trouble finding a common schedule to attend a session together
- If the learner has limited mobility, such as the elderly or someone with disabilities
- If the learner doesn’t have a lot of time to devote to learning
- If the training is meant to develop one’s cognitive skills
- If a traditional classroom setup is more expensive for the learner and the instructor than creating interactive, online content
Finally, if you are still unsure whether eLearning is an appropriate solution, consider these two questions:
- Will it be more cost-effective to take this route rather than a face-to-face setup or on-the-job learning?
- What skills are you trying to teach?
Although eLearning can be suitable for some courses, it is not always a substitute for traditional classroom training.
The disadvantages of eLearning include:
- Low retention levels by learners with limited motivation;
- Lack of immediate assistance when ambiguous information is presented; and
- Low computer literacy may prevent learners from fully benefiting from the learning experience.
While the development of eLearning is much more expensive than the development of classroom training solutions, the implementation costs are significantly lower than those for the instructor-led training (ILT). For classroom training, some of the implementation costs are typically associated with paying the trainer, renting a training room, printing hard copies of all course materials, and many more. Alternatively, expenses associated with implementation of eLearning are typically limited to the costs of web servers and technical support.
When Will ELearning Work?
The questions below should help you determine whether eLearning is the appropriate solution for the content and requirements that stakeholders provide.
- What types of skills does the training address?
- What are the goals of the training?
- What is the motivation level of your target audience?
- What is the learners’ level of computer literacy?
- Which generation do most learners come from?
- What is the geographic location of your learners?
- How many learners will the training course target?
- How much money is available for the training?