Curious about the advantages of online education?
Or maybe you’ve been exposed to some form of online training already or are just about ready to rip the bandaid off and implement an online education solution for your business.
After all, the next generation of workers are very tech-savvy and expect companies to provide excellent technology experiences, and that cascades down to training as well.
Whether you own a small business or a corporation, or are part of a regulated or unregulated industry, online education is quickly becoming expected in the workplace.
Soon, technology backing up every aspect of the workplace, from culture to training, will not only be the norm with most if not all companies but it’ll also be expected by modern workers.
You’ve likely heard about some of the more common advantages of online training, including saving money when compared to in-person training and the like. But what are the other advantages of online education?
This article goes into detail about online education, including its history, advantages, the pros and cons of online learning, and more.
Ready to go? Let’s start now!
Introduction to Online Education
Online education or online learning refers to any learning that takes place over the internet. The applications are endless, with online education being available in schools and workplaces around the world.
Online education has been around for decades, even as early as the 1960s — depending on your definition of “online education.” Back in those days, so-called “online learning” relied on a looser definition of connection since the actual internet hadn’t been invented yet. The closest thing to online learning that was available at that time was through linked-up computers that formed a network. Think of it like a LAN, or Local Area Network, that a lot of people used to do as a way to play video games with each other. Just those computers can talk to each other, so you’re rather limited in who you can communicate with.
With the invention of the internet, though, suddenly, people could connect with each other regardless of where they were, sharing files, images, videos, and other information, opening up more opportunities for online education.
That’s when we started seeing the development of LMSs and other technologies that were meant to enhance the online education experience, make it more accessible, and increase success rates for students.
Fast forward to today, where online education has basically exploded due to the catalyst that was the COVID-19 pandemic, leading more schools and businesses to embrace online education as the norm.
Top 10 Advantages of Online Education in the Business World
The advantages of online education are numerous, especially in today’s business world. As a perhaps unexpected result of the pandemic, more and more companies are moving to fully or partially remote work, meaning that their training regimens have had to catch up to that switch.
Enter online learning. The advantages of online education are numerous, including:
Saves Your Company Money
With online education, you no longer have to budget to get everyone together for training. Not only are you saving money on travel expenses and no longer having to worry about different time zones, but you’re also eliminating the disruption to work schedules. No more making your employees wake up early or stay up late to attend classes!
Reduces the Time Needed for Learning
According to an oft-cited Brandon Hall study, eLearning takes employees about 40-60% less time to complete than education delivered in the classroom. Microlearning and flexibility in learning schedules are likely behind the reason for this since microlearning allows employees to learn in bite-size chunks and the very nature of online education gives them the flexibility to learn when they want.
Allows Employees to Learn at Their Own Pace
Everyone is different — some people will catch on to a topic right away, while others will need more time. Online courses can be set up so that your spot is bookmarked if you want to come back to a certain part of the course at a later time, and completion time can be set in advance to something reasonable or be left for the employee to complete when they can. Additional resources can also be provided if an employee needs a bit more context or information to complete a course.
Forums and integrations with company messaging systems, like Slack and Microsoft Teams, give employees the opportunity to ask questions and get assistance with material as needed.
Opens Up Training Accessibility for Employees Worldwide
If a company has remote teams around the world, it makes it that much more difficult to get everyone together for a training session — unless, of course, you spring for a tropical company vacation!
But realistically, online education provides a more — ahem — realistic way to train employees, even if they live halfway across the world. Since course material is always available online, employees can connect to the platform when they can and complete training, even if they decide to go on their own retreat to a tropical destination.
Ensures Consistency with Training
When everyone has access to the same resources and is taught in the same way, the outcomes are likely to be more consistent than if you have multiple instructors teaching training material in their own way. Consistency with training reduces confusion and ensures that everyone is on the same page when it comes to a policy, process, or procedure that needs to be followed.
Can Accommodate Any Number of Employees
As a company adds more and more employees to its roster, it can be difficult to scale in-person training to accommodate these new employees, especially if they are all in different locations. Online education is easily scalable since there really is no limit to the number of people that can access an online training course, provided you have the back-end technology to support it.
Fits Flexible Work Schedules
Since the early 1900s and the popularization of the traditional 9-5, 40-hour workweek, most of us are used to working set hours. But with remote work quickly becoming the norm for most companies, workers are gravitating towards companies that offer more flexible schedules, as it offers numerous benefits for both employees and employers, including ensuring that someone is always available during working hours, even when it’s lunchtime!
One of the advantages of online education is that it can accommodate any schedule. With the ability to log in and complete training whenever companies provide a flexible work option for their employees won’t have to worry about an employee’s schedule affecting the training.
Ensures a Risk-Free Learning Environment
One of the advantages of online education is that it can accommodate any schedule. With the ability to log in and complete training whenever companies provide a flexible work option, their employees won’t have to worry about an employee’s schedule affecting the training.
Provides Ongoing Access to Resources
Ever wanted to go back and review a video call or document because you wanted to confirm the information but couldn’t find it in the seemingly endless ocean of files on your shared company database?
An online education platform has the ability to store a full database of resources that can be referred to at any time. It also helps to look for a platform that has a searchable database or, like Tovuti, a user rating system that shoots popular content to the top of the dashboard for easy accessibility. No more wasting half an hour searching through shared folders. Everything is right there!
Allows you to Track Employee Performance Learning Outcomes
Let’s say you get your team to take a group of eLearning courses, with the expected outcome that it’ll improve job performance. Access to analytics and reporting means you can see exactly who has completed what courses, but you also notice something unexpected — a potential gap in knowledge that you didn’t realize was affecting your team. That’s why analytics and reporting in online education are so important: you can sometimes identify factors you didn’t even realize needed action.
Pros and Cons of Online Education
Although online education has been around for a long time at this point, online education vs traditional education pros and cons are still often compared, and for good reason. We’re used to learning in person, and it’s only been in the last few decades that eLearning has really made its way into becoming the norm.
That being said, the pros and cons of online learning should still be considered, even if you’ve clearly seen the advantages of online education.
This chart gives a snapshot of the main pros and cons of online learning:
The advantages of online education may be numerous, but that doesn’t mean it has its fair share of disadvantages as well. When we take a deeper look at the pros and cons of online education, many of the cons are rooted in things like issues with technology, lack of human interaction, and learners procrastinating or not being disciplined enough for self-directed learning.
But companies are clearly leaning toward the advantages of online education rather than focusing on the negatives, as the business sector is predicted to be one of the biggest drivers of growth in the online learning space this decade. Of course, one of the biggest factors having companies weighing the pros and cons of online learning and likely a big reason for this growth is because of the pandemic, but that upward trend is set to continue as time goes on.
In addition, employees that take part in online learning are most likely to receive promotions and pay raises and even be promoted to leadership positions, giving employees more incentive to get on board with online learning if they haven’t already. With the LMS industry continuing to see rapid growth, it’s clear that online learning isn’t going away anytime soon.
8 Tips for Choosing an Online Learning Platform
Choosing the best online learning platform that will work for your business might seem daunting at first. There are literally thousands of options available, all with similar features, at least on the surface. That’s why it’s important to have a good understanding of what you’re looking for in an online learning platform before making your decision. After all, most companies don’t want to budget for a platform switch only a few months down the road when they find out the online learning platform they chose doesn’t quite cut it.
Here are 8 key tips for choosing an online learning platform:
Choose a Platform that is Easy to Implement
Imagine choosing the perfect learning platform, only to find out that you’re basically on your own with getting it set up. It’s true that learning management systems, which are the most popular online learning platforms, come with a cost. This cost can vary depending on your own internal resources and how easy it is for you to implement the system into your existing tech stack. Of course, the easier the system is to implement (read: play nicely with popular software that you probably use), the less hassle and cost it will be in the long run.
Ensure You Can Integrate Your Content Easily
If you’re looking into an online learning platform, chances are you have a combination of internal company resources that you want to immediately upload to your shiny new learning platform. If it’s too difficult to upload or the platform requires you to manually recreate each resource from scratch, that’s going to drastically eat into your onboarding time.
Thankfully, most online learning technology supports standard file types like PowerPoint, PDFs, most image files, and so on, so at least uploading existing content shouldn’t be a big issue. However, more complex files, like existing eLearning courses that you may have, could prove to be more difficult. If your files follow standard conventions like SCORM, then look for an online education platform that also follows these standards.
Avoid Platforms with Difficult Learning Curves
When you’re weighing the pros and cons of online learning, It might be tempting to choose an online learning platform that seems like it will solve all the negatives. But is it easy to use? Online learning in businesses often suffers from low adoption rates, but if the software is intuitive and easy to use, then it’s easier for employees to get on board.
On the other hand, if it takes longer for employees to learn the system and actually reach their goals (i.e., learning or improving skills that they can apply to their job), then that means more money spent on training the employee just to use the platform before they even start learning!
Look for an Intuitive and Easy to Use Interface
Avoiding a platform with a difficult learning curve goes hand-in-hand with choosing a platform that has an easy-to-use interface. If employees log into the online learning platform and can immediately navigate through the main dashboard and menus, then you’re already saving time and money on training. Also, it’ll be way easier to convince employees to integrate eLearning into their daily routine if the software is easy to use from the beginning.
Ease of Content Authoring
If you’re integrating eLearning into your business, chances are you have a lot of training materials and other resources that you’re excited to upload onto the platform and ideas for course creation. But if creating new courses requires professional help, like a developer, then that not only impacts your budget, it also slows implementation. Look for an online learning platform with built-in course authoring tools to make building out engaging course content easier.
Ensure Mobile Responsiveness
Did you know that 15% of Americans use a smartphone exclusively for the internet — meaning they don’t have home broadband internet service but rely entirely on their smartphone? Not only that, but reliance on smartphones has steadily gone up over the years for every demographic. Your employees are likely using a computer for their work (hopefully), but that doesn’t change the fact that we’re a mobile-focused society, so your company’s eLearning should be as well.
Mobile responsiveness is basically a staple feature of any good online learning platform, so look for solutions that offer a seamless mobile experience.
Support for Microlearning
Your employees are busy. With a regular workload, it can be difficult to fit in hours at a time for online learning, especially when it isn’t a priority. But what if employees could consume eLearning content for a few minutes at a time? Microlearning is a great way for employees to fit in a bit of learning while they are juggling other tasks. These online learning tidbits are designed to only take a minute or two to read or complete, meaning employees can consume content when they’re waiting in line or need a small break from the daily grind.
Ensure that the Platform is Secure
When you’re focusing on all the advantages of online education and are excited about choosing a platform that offers everything we talked about above, it’s easy to forget about security. Sensitive company files and resources should be protected, and a good online education platform should provide the latest security tools to help ensure that your content is kept safe. Look for features like two-factor authentication, robust administration tools (so you can assign different access levels to users), and support for the latest encryption technology.
With online education bringing more opportunities for learning for decades, it’s no big surprise that it’s become basically the staple for workplace training moving forward. It started with basic LAN networks and file sharing and evolved into full-fledged learning management systems complete with their own forums and mini social networks to keep people connected and engaged.
While some may point to the COVID-19 Pandemic as a major catalyst for companies’ increased adoption of online learning platforms, it’s clear that online learning has been on an upward trajectory for much longer than a couple of years. As time goes on and technology improves, we’re likely to only see improvements with online education and its efficacy.
If you’re ready to discover an online learning platform that is easy to use, provides engaging learning experiences, and has a fast and responsive design, look no further than Tovuti. We’ve created a system that is, dare we say, zenfully easy to implement and use. Watch our demo, and we’ll walk you through the system and show you how it can benefit your business.