This article is a reprint originally published in HR News
Online learning has revolutionized employee training and development in recent years. The website Review42 reported in June 2021 that more than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were using e-learning regularly and extensively. The site’s “20 Fascinating Online Education Statistics to Know for 2021” also includes this: “Between 2020 and 2024, the U.S. E-learning market could grow by $72.41 billion.” Another projection presented on the Guru99 website has the total value of the corporate online learning market hitting $50 billion by 2026.
Why Are So Many Organizations Adopting This Approach?
The trend is happening in part because the COVID-19 pandemic made remote education a necessity. Also, many people, especially adults looking to continue their education, had already embraced online learning prior to the coronavirus outbreak. One more reason that cannot be overlooked is that technology has advanced enough to make the transition to online learning (relatively) seamless.
A big selling point is flexibility.
People can log on to access course materials and complete assignments at any time that works for them given their other responsibilities at their jobs and at home. Indeed, survey findings highlighted in an article on the Bay Atlantic University website indicate “63 percent of online students commit to an online program because it aligns with their current life/work responsibilities.” In other words, providing online training tools and resources empowers employees to take their professional development into their own hands.
These characteristics explain just some of the reasons the digitalization of education will continue to expand.
In addition to convenience and flexibility, online education offers opportunities to deliver content that is customized to an individual’s optimum learning style.
For decades, most education was presented in a standard classroom format. Online courses followed this traditional model of instruction at their conception, often consisting of simple recordings of lectures. With the vast capabilities, new technologies provide, e-learning content has moved far past that.
Online education is now multimodal, encompassing many different media and platforms in order to provide broader options for students to absorb and engage with content. These include visual experiences, sound recordings, practical applications, course books and video tutorials.
To meet students where they are, e-learning product developers and curriculum designers have launched podcasts, blogs, virtual office hours and personalized sessions so students have more choices and autonomy than ever before. The revolution in virtual education will not end here. Augmented and virtual reality tools are already providing even higher levels of personalized remote education.
Why Should You Consider Online Learning for Your Employees
First, online education is not going anywhere. The statistics shared above indicate e-learning will soon dominate the training and development market.
More importantly, expanding the educational ecosystem is vital because all learners are not built the same, and consequently, do not all learn in the same way. Some people are visual learners; others learn from experience. Online courses can be designed to allow people to choose what works best for them.
Making such choices sets learners up to achieve greater success, which positions them to be more likely to finish a course. Struggling to engage with and master content makes everyone more likely to quit before completing a course.
Offering learnings options also increases the accessibility of education. For example, students with disabilities may find it challenging to reach or navigate a physical classroom. Many conditions can make engaging with certain media difficult.
Switching to the organization’s perspective, offering online education options can be a huge win for promoting employee retention and reducing pandemic-driven resignations. Employees who feel invested in and connected to future growth will stay.
Expanding and customizing learning opportunities for employees is also good for morale. A tailored educational experience equates to higher levels of interest and a more satisfactory journey. That means organizations that invest time and money in employee development will see better results—potentially at a faster rate.
All this said, e-learning tools and approaches must continue to expand and evolve in the ways that serve students and organizations. As you evaluate programs, make sure to weigh both whether a program delivers the right kind of content and whether the content is deployed in the right way for your employees. Taking those considerations will best serve employees and the organization’s bottom line.
Learn more about trends in product management and product marketing by downloading the Pragmatic Institute Annual Survey.