Is e-learning effective for corporate training?

By The Hubken Group

When questioning if e-learning "works" for corporate training, it's important to review what is really being asked. 

By "work", we’re really asking whether employees are more likely or less likely to learn effectively when sitting in front of a computer screen. 

is e-learning effective

Fortunately, research shows that when executed correctly, e-learning is as effective as in-class corporate training. A study conducted by Will Thalheimer, PhD, who has worked in the learning and performance field since 1985, provides some interesting insights. Here is a top-line summary:

1. When learning methods are kept consistent between classroom-based learning and e-learning, the quality of outcomes is the same.

2. When no efforts are made to keep learning methods consistent, e-learning tends to out-perform traditional classroom-led instruction.

3. Blended learning (e.g. e-learning supported with face-to-face training), tends to outperform classroom-based learning by a significant margin, probably because the methods of learning used in blended learning are more effective.

4. What matters is not the modality (whether it’s online or face-to-face), but the learning methods used.

When you consider the above points, it's clear that it’s not the medium that matters, it’s the method of delivery. But how do you make learning more engaging and effective? 

How to make e-learning content more engaging 


1. Take a blended and creative approach to corporate training

Ineffective e-learning content is down to uninspiring, disengaging and poorly developed training material itself rather than the digital medium used to deliver it. 

Certainly, it’s easy for L&D teams to fall into the trap of producing learning content that "ticks the boxes" but bores the employee. To further illustrate this point, here are two real-world examples of unengaging content contrasted against effective content.

Example 1: Tick-the-box content: You provide employees with several pages of written content on a specific subject matter and then ask them to answer questions. 

Example 2: Creatively blended content: You use a mixture of real-world, scenario-based learning, video-coaching, spaced repetitions (e.g. reintroducing the same or similar learning themes over a period of time), and tutor feedback on practice sessions.

You also assess knowledge retention via a number of different measures, not just straightforward answers to set questions.

Which of these two approaches is more likely to be practical and effective in the workplace? 

Example number 2 is the clear winner (and is reflective of our approach to blended e-learning at Hubken).

2. Use all your LMS features and integrations to blend learning

(Learn more about the difference between an LMS vs LXP here.)

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For many L&D pros, their main objective is to create, distribute and track the performance of employees against key learning measures. That’s what an LMS like Totara Learn is designed to do.

The challenge for training managers, however, is to use their learning platforms more effectively. For example, a plug-in installation will enable you to implement a video-conferencing facility and establish blended learning easily. 

3. Encourage collaboration and social learning with an LXP 

Isn't the lack of social interaction and collaboration a big drawback of e-learning? 

They can be. If you let them. This is where a learning experience platform (LXP) comes in.

LXPs like Totara Engage are designed to unleash the power of informal and social learning in your organization. You can, for example:

  • Allow users to curate and share their own "learning playlists" with their peers including video, blogs, podcasts and articles
  • Establish collaborative workspaces to bring people with common goals together
  • Integrate learning into the workday with bite-sized learning available in the flow of work
  • Use gamification to engage your employees in a productive and socially interactive way

So, does e-learning work?

The answer is yes, providing that you use emerging technologies creatively and always have learning engagement central in your thinking.

Fortunately, the latest LMS and LXP technologies make getting creative easier than ever.

Don’t have time to produce your own learning content? Buy some.

Better still, give your learners the ability to create and share their own learning pathways using an LXP like Totara Engage. 

Feeling inspired? Contact Hubken Group and get creative.