This is often based on poor experiences with uninspiring e-learning courses that simply plonk a slide presentation or PDF onto a web page, with little thought for engagement or interaction.
The question still pervades whether, despite the emergence of new digital learning technology, e-learning can ever be ‘as good’ as the supposed exemplar of classroom learning.
The answer is quite simple: e-learning gives us the opportunity to extend learning beyond borders with more benefits than traditional learning could ever offer.
Here are four reasons why:
1. Technology has pushed the learning boundaries
During financial hard times is when many businesses tend to see the real value of e-learning, choosing to cut back on travel expenses and allocate funds towards digitally-delivered learning online rather than on-site or at training centres.
We have already seen more businesses moving towards this shift; and the recent result of the EU referendum may cause more financial hardships for businesses, further increasing the uptake of e-learning methods.
Early e-learning solutions and platforms were far less efficient than the modern platforms to which people have access today. These new modern digital learning platforms have enabled the content to take the centre-stage, whilst the technology is only there to engage and enhance the learning experience.
And that’s what technology has achieved, pushing the boundaries of learning and providing multi-channel opportunities for learning, making that bridge between offline classroom learning and the online world.
2. Learning at your own pace
There has been much discussion and theories on how individual learners each have different “learning styles” that must be catered to. Though much of this has now been invalidated we must still take into account that all learners will have distinct characteristics and physiologies that can help or hinder their approach to learning.
For example, a neuroscience research report
demonstrated that blood sugar levels present in the body may impact a worker’s decision making process.
Learners with less energy may be at a disadvantage in a workplace group training, particularly at times of the day which are incompatible with their sugar digestion.
Instead, offering the opportunity for remote learning at a time of their choosing allows all learners to best match the mode and context of learning to their own unique pattern, providing them with the best chance of comprehension.
3. E-learning enables access to all
The UK has seen a major increase in recent years in flexible working, home-based workers and the number of freelance staff spread in different parts of the country or across borders. Many organisations face a challenge simply arranging simultaneous classroom or office training.
The challenge of accessibility is even greater for those with disabilities or mobility issues, and something as simple as attending a class can turn into a logistical nightmare.
Online there are no limitations to accessibility: learners can access their course at their own pace, in the environment in which they feel the most comfortable to learn and not be judged. I would argue that e-learning is probably more inclusive and liberating than a classroom could ever be.
4. Continuous learning on-tap
Having access to high profile consultants and experienced trainers can be expensive and involve additional costs such as flights, accommodation and venue hire, all of which can amount to a significant investment for the business.
This has influenced the movement towards investing in digital access to specialist trainers, enabling organisations to provide access to the latest techniques and practices - and decreasing costs, as trainers and learners can be situated anywhere. This approach has proven to be cost and time effective, enabling organisations to offer continuous learning on-tap or whenever needed.
Technology has empowered teaching institutions with the opportunity to provide courses to the same standard as traditional classroom learning and much more.
To conclude, the use of technology has empowered learners to learn at their own time and at their own pace, limiting any physical barriers of proximity education, opening access to a whole new world of experts.
E-learning has proven that it is shaping up to be even better than classroom learning.
Ralph LaFontaine is the MD of the online distance learning provider Home Learning College
Many people still tend to see e-learning as a poor alternative to face-to-face learning.