Online training has been available in some form since the internet connected us for the first time. Still, it’s often been seen as a secondary option to a classroom or in-person training.
However, world events have acted as a catalyst for organizations to consider it as the first or only option. We know it’s cliche to mention the pandemic, but it really did change perceptions around things like working remotely, meaning companies have had to adapt to the changing attitudes of their workforce, customers, and stakeholders.
This often means more opportunities for employees to work remotely when they can
and a bigger focus on using the internet to carry out daily work and business operations — including training.
Here are the advantages and disadvantages of online learning to consider. Knowing the advantages and disadvantages of online learning will help you develop effective strategies for delivering the best possible learning experience, whether it's for employees or clients.
What Are The Advantages Of Online Learning?
The advantages of online learning are numerous. Let’s take a closer look at the main ones:
When it comes to affordability, online learning is much less expensive than classroom training or in-person training. Sure, you’re making an initial investment in eLearning software, but you’re also saving money on booking classrooms, travel costs, and printed resources.
Online learning provides much more flexibility when compared to in-person. Courses are available for learners to take at any time and from anywhere, meaning that schedules no longer have to line up between management or senior employees for training, and employees can complete training whenever and wherever they want to.
With an LMS platform, course content can often be easily updated, so the content stays fresh and up-to-date. Tovuti, for instance, offers built-in course authoring tools, meaning that you can update course content and training resources directly in the software.
With online courses through an LMS, courses can also be easily categorized by topic, and easily found through built-in search functionality, meaning your courses are automatically organized and easy for learners to find. In addition, all courses and learning materials are available in one place, so employees don’t have to sift through Google Drive or similar to find training resources.
Ease of Access
Online training can be accessed at any time and from anywhere, opening up more opportunities for training. Most modern LMS platforms are mobile responsive, meaning that employees can even access courses straight from their phone or tablet.
Most companies will have a set amount of training materials and courses that cover everything to do with specific roles, but training and development can be expanded even further with eLearning. Tovuti, for instance, offers access to thousands of courses through an integrated course content library. This opens up training opportunities to employees beyond the standard internal courses, benefiting from honing their skills and developing new ones.
Improved Virtual Communication and Collaboration
It can be tough to stay connected and collaborate in remote environments without the right tools.
Thankfully, online learning platforms like Tovuti provide easy ways to keep everyone connected.
For instance, through the virtual classroom, you can facilitate breakout rooms that allow learners to work and learn together in a virtual environment during a live, instructor-led learning session. This allows learners to get to know each other better and to bounce ideas off of each other, ask questions, and share information.
A lot of online learning platforms incorporate collaborative elements into the software to encourage communication with others, like communities and forums to offer employees more ways to stay connected.
The Disadvantage of Online Learning
Any training method has its pros and cons. Let’s take a closer look at some of the disadvantages of digital learning:
Feelings of Isolation
Although online learning is convenient, it’s often a solo event. This means that employees can feel isolated due to a lack of social interaction, especially in remote working environments. It can also be difficult to feel like you’re connected to your coworkers when you don’t work directly with them, which can also affect company culture.
Ensuring that collaboration occurs is important to reduce feelings of isolation among employees, so taking full advantage of tools like the aforementioned breakout rooms, communities, and forums is a great way to encourage connection. Providing a variety of courses helps as well. Rather than only providing self-directed eLearning courses, mix in hybrid training and instructor-led courses to change things up.
Lack of Urgency with Completing Courses
Because online learning is often self-paced, not everyone has the discipline to ensure that they are spending the time they need to complete courses. If training is seen as the lowest priority among a list of tasks, it’ll constantly get bumped in favor of more important work. Putting deadlines in place for certain courses, or encouraging employees to set aside scheduled time, let’s say an hour or two a week, for training goes a long way toward ensuring that courses are getting completed.
Not All Training is Adaptable Online
Some training might not be completely adaptable to an online environment. Although people have gotten creative with course content and LMS platforms do offer a wide variety of ways to deliver training, the fact remains that some training is just better suited for an in-person environment.
In these cases, blended learning could be a possible solution. First aid, for instance, often teaches the theory portion of the course online and then has learners meet in person for the practical part of the course.
Shoddy internet connections alongside hardware and software issues can impact online learning. This can affect how quickly training can be completed, or the overall training experience. For instance, if a student is attending an online instructor-led session but the video keeps freezing, they might miss key pieces of information. Thankfully, resources can be provided alongside live instruction to supplement learning and provide complete information, which helps to ensure learners have what they need to be successful.
On the other hand, in-course videos and images may fail to load, or a course may stop working altogether. However, these types of system issues are typically more common if you’re using a self-hosted LMS rather than cloud-based. if you go with a cloud-based online learning platform like Tovuti, maintenance of the system is handled by us, and we provide top-notch support to help ensure you’re getting the best learning experience possible.
Computer literacy Issues
eLearning requires a certain level of technological competency from the learner. Companies that have a lot of employees with different experience levels with computers might find that some employees push back on online training, simply because they aren’t comfortable with the technology. Sometimes this can be mitigated with some computer training and extra time, but it’s important to understand your employee’s comfort level with technology in advance and provide support for them as needed.
Good eLearning is Difficult to Do
There’s a reason why people go to school to become instructional designers — creating eLearning content that’s both engaging and effective isn’t easy. While you might have great training resources and materials, time needs to be taken to consider the best way to translate those materials to an online environment. It’s not enough to simply upload documents, you need to incorporate interactive elements, videos, and more to enhance the learning experience.
Thankfully, Tovuti offers easy ways to make your courses effective and well, more fun as well. By using gamification elements like badges, certificates, and leaderboards, you can encourage healthy competition between learners. The built-in course authoring also allows you to add a variety of fun activities to your content, from memory games, virtual tours, quizzes, and more.
Online Learning Case Studies
Virtual learning advantages and disadvantages aside, many companies have successfully implemented online training solutions. From automotive to retail, let’s take a look at well-known companies that wouldn’t want to go back to just offering in-person training.
The pandemic brought a lot of challenges for businesses, and communication was one of them. Employees that were used to talking with customers in person suddenly were limited to talking with them over the phone, email, or video chat, which could impact relationships and, ultimately, sales.
Day One helped Mercedes Benz develop scenario-based eLearning content that would teach employees the soft skills they needed to effectively communicate with remote clients. This eLearning course took what would normally happen in a dealership, translated that to the screen, and gave them the tools to be personable with new and existing customers using remote communication tools.
The quintessential soda pop giant Pepsico was looking for a way to improve their existing 3-day workshop training for their companies Quaker, Walkers, Pepsi, and Tropicana. The goal was to ensure that their salespeople had the information they need, including things like market intelligence and strategic insights so they can look at complex issues and develop solutions while still adhering to Pepsico’s brand and values.
WillowDNA developed a comprehensive training program including eLearning, multimedia, and interactive scenarios in an effort to make challenging subjects easily accessible and applicable. They interviewed personnel, wrote scripts, gathered data, and created a blended learning solution that was able to replace their former in-person workshop training, saving the company time and money with the logistical costs and expenses that would typically be incurred with the workshop program.
As a uniform rental service that serves the food and beverage, healthcare, and industrial industries, Alsco has over 355,000 customers and employees in over 12 countries. When the pandemic hit, the company’s two-person learning and development (L&D) team needed a fast solution to keep current employees happy and recruitment moving along smoothly.
One of the steps Alsco took was to implement a global corporate communications department, which has 81 branches in North America. The goal of this department is to strengthen its global workforce and provide more human interaction.
Peoplefluent provided a solution in the form of their Talent Mobility platform as well as their Instilled Learning Experience platform to offer Alsco a way to support its new approach to employee learning and development. Through these systems, the L&D team provided practical and fun learning solutions for employees in addition to career development courses. In under a year, user engagement and adoption were at an all-time high with an over 700% increase.
The weir group is one of the world’s leading engineering firms specializing in equipment used in mining and infrastructure. The main headquarters is in Glasgow, but Weir employs more than 11,000 people in over 60 countries.
Weir partnered with Sponge as part of their commitment to creating a more inclusive company culture, which encompasses both diversity and the importance of every employee’s contribution to the company. Sponge created a 30-minute eLearning module and three silent empathy videos that followed the main points of the “We are Weir” framework, which includes recognizing the contributions of people, sharing a common sense of purpose, and taking responsibility for shared success.
Silent empathy videos are focused on emotional connection, and the message is conveyed through facial expressions and body language. The highly-engaging videos did not need to be translated and were built to be relatable for anyone. This proves to be an interesting yet effective way to use online learning to build an employee culture while focusing on powerful emotional responses to connect individuals.
The results of the training were that more employees accessed the training than ever before, and there was evidence of the videos sparking meaningful conversations among employees.
What are some best practices for an online training program?
Here are some best practices you can follow for creating an online training program for your employees:
- Have a clear training goal in mind. Have a clear understanding of what you want your employees to learn, and why. For example, if the goal is to have employees follow a new process for executing a task, starting with an explanation (why this change is better than the previous process) and breaking down the new process into easy-to-follow steps is one approach.
- Think about the navigation in your training course. You may want to create a storyboard and script in advance to help you plan out a logical flow for your online course.
- Include links to additional resources. Allow your learners to enhance their learning by including links to resources throughout the course, where it's appropriate. Links can be used to define jargon or provide additional information about a topic.
- Use audio and visuals throughout your course. Using images, video, and audio clips where appropriate help make your course more engaging and can enhance learning outcomes.
How is online teaching different?
Online teaching definitely has differences when you compare it to teaching in a typical classroom. While both require you to have materials prepared in advance, the nuances of online learning might not allow you to pick up on when students are having trouble understanding the material, meaning you may not be able to pivot your teaching as easily. On the other hand, online teaching does allow you to teach more students at a time, and you don’t have to travel to a location to do so. It’s also typically more cost-effective for the school, as they can find and hire a remote instructor without having to provide a classroom or office for them.
How can eLearning be Successful?
To help make your eLearning courses as engaging and effective as possible, follow these tips:
- Choose the most effective teaching method. Should the course be delivered through live instruction, or is it more suited for self-paced learning? Consider the topic, existing training materials, and your audience in your decision.
- Organize course content logically. The content for your course should follow a logical flow, meaning that beginner-level topics are discussed first and more advanced topics are discussed last.
- Choose the right software. With so many eLearning platforms available, it can be difficult to make a decision. You’ll need to align your training goals with the features and benefits of the software solution that you choose. For example, if you’re not a developer, you’ll likely want an eLearning platform with built-in course authoring so you can easily create your own courses using an intuitive course builder.
- Use media and gamification to spice up your courses. Nobody wants to read a boring wall of text, so take advantage of videos, pictures, and interactive gamification elements to really bring your courses to life.
What are some learning management system disadvantages?
Although learning management systems are great tools to deliver online training, they can have some disadvantages. These include
- Length of implementation. While the process may be worth it, it does take time to implement a learning management system into a company’s existing framework. Ensuring that existing tech is connected to the system properly and that admins are confident with using the system takes time.
- Ease of use. Some learning management systems can have a big learning curve and are overall not intuitive to use. However, there are easy-to-use systems out there. Tovuti is one example, as we pay careful attention to the user experience and intuitiveness of our system.
- Full customization requires programming knowledge. Similar to web builders like WordPress or Wix, even though there are easy to use LMS course builders with drag and drop interfaces out there, you may still need programmers to handle backend coding if you want complete control over the customization of your courses.
Like any type of training, the advantages and disadvantages of online learning need to be considered. Some advantages are flexibility, efficiency, and affordability, while disadvantages include feelings of isolation, computer literacy issues (which can affect how effective the online training is for some learners), and technology issues (e.g. freezing, internet connectivity issues, etc.). But when you know the disadvantages of digital learning, you can take steps to mitigate them.
Overall, though, when we weigh the virtual learning advantages and disadvantages, it still comes out on top as the best way to train employees in a modern workplace.
To train your employees effectively online, you’ll need a robust learning management system that can handle all your training needs. Tovuti is easy to use, comes with full onboarding, and is a great solution for both small businesses and corporations. Watch our demo today and discover how Tovuti can positively impact your training.