“Going global” is a key milestone for many companies; more than ever, colleagues and divisions are operating from different countries, if not continents. Furthermore, with the fast pace of modern businesses, operations have become 24/7 environments with no time or energy to lose. This makes e-learning one of the most appropriate tools for strategic training.
The rapid advance and widespread use of technology has proven to be beneficial for both the educational and business sectors. Quite simply, e-learning is electronic learning, which means using a computer to deliver part or all of a training. It is referred to in many ways, including computer-based training, internet learning and distance learning, to name a few. Nowadays, digital devices and software, with a plethora of instructional and academic applications in schools, universities and businesses, have satisfied the need for learning efficiently, while spending on fewer costly resources.
An e-learning system is extremely beneficial for businesses from a financial point of view; the cost of training that normally represents an estimated 3–4.5% of operational budgets can now be reduced to the lowest point. Trainings are an essential practice for companies and for the next generation of managers. It allows regional branches to execute business strategies and action initiatives and develop these markets. This will save the head office time and money in the long run: if others can strengthen skills and take on responsibilities, these employees will see best what is happening in their locations and provide strong solutions. Employee motivation and satisfaction is also high on company priorities and effective trainings will allow them to develop themselves in a way that is beneficial for the organisation’s aims.
Procter & Gamble, for example, saved millions of dollars in training costs by utilising e-learning training platforms. Overall, they saved more than $75.00 per person and the process proved to be 30% more efficient than traditional methods at delivering training. Similarly, British Airways introduced training programmes that reduced classroom time by one third and received great feedback from the employees.
The perceived drawback with e-learning is that it lacks human interaction between trainer and trainee, which some people prefer. However, courses can be tailored to suit the situation and the individuals, which in fact make them more effective. There are no limitations on time and space of usage; employees can work at their own pace, repeat sections, test themselves and move forwards when they feel confident with the material. Online learning can fit with the company needs whatever the field, with the flexibility for users to schedule and plan their training time at their convenience — taking into account other projects and deadlines, of course.
A key benefit of these tools is their accessibility: not only are they available on demand, they can be translated for employees in different countries. This allows the trainer to create one master version that can then be localised to suit an entire multilingual audience, therefore effectively delivering the training to all employees. Furthermore, no important details will be lost, as trainings are communicated from person to person in different languages, which helps consistency throughout the organisation.
Programmes can take on many formats, such as pure online reading, online presentations, video/audio tapes, online meetings and videoconferencing, bulletin boards and discussion forums. These are only some of the options available to companies! As they are completely customisable, access to user interfaces, interactive content and tests are just a few of the features that can be used to train employees, ensuring strong engagement and resulting in greater knowledge.
A further benefit can be to those companies with a strong focus on their environmental footprint: by using the online courses, the energy they are consuming decreases by 90% and the CO2 emissions per person falls by 85%. Paper waste that occurs in traditional classrooms is now eliminated, as educational materials and textbooks are all online.
In this rapidly changing economic environment, e-learning platforms provide tremendous benefits to all parties: employees have access to materials and can develop their skillsets, while organisations can more effectively train their staff, therefore increasing overall knowledge and output.