why elearning?

A potential Articulate customer (a city government) is sold on our software, but has some work to do in convincing his colleagues why elearning is a valuable long-term investment. I thought it would make for good discussion here.

I sent him these two links:

Why E-Learning is So Effective

Case Study: Wyeth’s 500% E-Learning ROI

What are your thoughts on helping to convince someone that elearning beats paper-based training?

10 Replies
Steve Flowers

Here are the arguments we use in defending the power of the solution:

  • Reach. If you have to reach many, many employees you may not have the resources to run each and every employee through a resident classroom training session.
  • Convenience. This is closely related to reach. eLearning allows your learners to access content on their own schedule.
  • Consistency. With a digital solution you get the advantage of a single body of authoritative content. If you're running multiple courses across the country or across the city, do you have a guarantee of an equal experience (even between sessions)?
  • Accountability. Digital solutions offer you the opportunity to know exactly when a member of your organization was exposed to a fact, concept, procedure, or principle. Ideally this is all automatic and possibly scheduled. Some organizations use this accountability mechanism to lock out performance of certain tasks - this can reduce an organization's liability in some cases.

In addition to those things listed above, eLearning can be a powerful alternative (and in some cases a superior alternative) to other means for skill building. When you break down any task, you're likely to uncover overt behaviors (things you can see and count) and covert behaviors (things that people think about or calculate to reach a decision that results in an overt behavior). eLearning is really powerful at addressing those covert / cognitive tasks. It's really powerful at providing opportunities for rare practice and feedback in ways that establish a hard to come by mental model when the instruction is well designed. The secret is figuring out what these covert tasks are, codifying them, and designing around those types of objectives. Each of these is the manifestation of a cognitive task (I would argue everything that we do is the manifestation of a cognitive task):

  • Recall
  • Recognize
  • Distinguish
  • Discover
  • Solve
  • Generate
  • Modify
  • Organize
  • Evaluate

Think about all of the stuff that happens from the neck up. That's a heck of a lot of stuff. eLearning can be really good for that stuff. When you design instruction for independant events, think higher than the lowest rungs of Bloom's Taxonomy. Playing verb darts in that zone is so boring and wasteful

The counter argument is a blanket caveat: eLearning is NOT good for everything, but neither is classroom training.

Christine Pascual

I just read a posting on Seth Godin's Blog. It talks about how it is difficult to convince someone something with just facts and evidence. Only when the people they respect sell them on it, then they will change their mind. I think this is so relevant for convincing people to use eLearning. If they have never had eLearning before, they don't really know how it works, and they don't know how it will impact their organization. Numbers like ROI and savings will definitely help, but I think people may be more open to it if they see how well it works for major companies like Qualcomm and Intuit and listen to their success stories.

Kim Alison

I've just been reading up on all these great ideas and am trying to come up with hmm - not sure what the word is  - like an anagramm?

Anyway to try and make things clearer, I was thinking along the lines of

S for Standardisation

P for Personalised Learning

A for Accountability

R for Retention or Reach

K for .. and this is where intuition leaves me

I liked the idea of "Spark" as it could be visualised really nicely.

But has anyone got a K for me?


Steve Flowers

K is a tough one - Key and Know are loosely relevant but don't run parallel with the benefit pattern. Maybe SPARC with C could yield a more relevant selection. This would supply Choice (which is pretty close to personalization) and Cognitive Tasks as possible anagram fills. A common misconception surrounding e-learning is that it's "only for knowledge" which commonly translates to "always for information transmission". I like to point out that e-learning is great for cognitive tasks and provides opportunities for repeat practice of these types of tasks. 

  • Standardization
  • Personalized Learning
  • Accountable Records
  • Reach beyond the classroom
  • Cognitive tasks and decision skills practice
Bob S

K - udos from learners  (high acceptance rate)

K - nits learning together learning (creates learning culture through frequency)

K - ills  (K-nocks down) excuses to learning

BTW - Steve's points in the first post are spot on.  But would add the idea that e-learning lowers the threshold for businesses (and learners!) to personal development