We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue to use this site we will assume that you are happy with it. View Privacy Policy
Published on:

6 Ways a Distance Learning Program Improves Employee Development

Ways a Distance Learning Program Improves Employee Development

Picture it…

It’s the summer of 2019.

You’ve brought a few new employees onto the team who need to be brought up to speed and existing employees who need a refresher. 

It takes months, but you coordinate out-of-office training for the whole team. The plan includes lodging and meals. 

You adjust the quarterly budget to accommodate reimbursements, daily office shutdowns, and the cost of presenters to deliver training material. 

But does it work? Did the team retain anything they learned? Was it enough? Was it worth the expenses? 

You’ll never know. 

And you don’t have to wonder ever again with distance learning software (DLS). 

Distance learning software is the answer to well-rounded employee development. DLS allows the training material to be created and delivered all on one platform that can be accessed anywhere by any employee.  

Sound like a dream from 2019? It’s not. Keep reading to find out how. 

What is Online Distance Learning? 

Online distance learning is a method of learning where instructors and students do not rely on a formal classroom setting but instead use the internet to conduct studies. 

Although technological advances and the internet have transformed distance learning courses, this method of teaching and learning has been around since the 19th century. 

Back then, Isaac Pitman developed distance learning programs in 1840 by implementing postcard correspondence. 

Pitman taught shorthand by sending learners postcards. Students transcribed them and mailed them back for corrections. 

The primary tenet of student feedback in Pitman’s distance learning classes is a critical component of why online distance learning is so widespread and powerful today. 

Modern distance learning software still uses the element of feedback from the student(s). These days, it works better and faster than the pony express postcard method of way back when. 

Today, an instructor would use the tools of a learning management system (LMS) to author courses, and then the LMS would deliver the material to a student in a remote location. 

This way, instructors and students can completely control the learning experience. Instructors can control the material from design to delivery, while learners can control when, how, and where they learn. 

Advances in technology make online distance learning an all-in-one, dynamic, and interactive course(s) with features like quizzes, assessments, and progress tracking (among so much more). 

Distance learning programs have come a long way since Isaac Pitman’s postcard method, but he was way ahead of his time. 

It’s practical, too, since 94% of learners prefer to learn at their own pace and retain more information because the learning environment is tailored to fit their schedules. 

How Do Distance Learning Programs Work For Employees?

How Do Distance Learning Programs Work For Employees

Perhaps most don’t know of Isaac Pitman’s postcard system, but everyone is familiar with remote learning (and working) after the pandemic. 

In a nutshell, that is an excellent example of online distance learning programs. 

For employees, distance learning courses provide in-depth, industry and organization-relevant learning materials that can be accessed from anywhere. 

It works like this…

An employer plans what learning objectives need to be met by employees for the organization. With the right LMS platform, new material can be authored and existing training material imported. 

The design and setup of the course are quick and easy. Simply choose which features work best. Features include

  1. Interactive video
  2. Gamification
  3. Course content library with ready-to-go training material
  4. Lesson gating ensures employees take the distance learning courses in the desired order 
  5. Course and progress tracking

For employees, distance learning software allows them to learn at their own pace, from a comfortable environment, while monitoring their progress, interacting with their peers, and getting immediate feedback from instructors. 

You may think of employee learning as only applicable to industries that require continuing education units (CEUs). Still, with the right software, distance learning programs can be designed to fit every industry and every industry need. 

With customizable branding options and the ability to incorporate a branded mobile app, employees will always feel like part of the team. Plus, we all live on the go these days, and having the ability to access material from mobile is a huge plus. 

Not convinced? 

Consider that…

77% of US organizations already use distance learning for professional development, and more than 40% of Fortune 500 companies use distance learning software.

It’s safe to say it isn’t going anywhere. 

And with good reason. 

6 Benefits Of Online Distance Learning For Employee Training

Benefits Of Online Distance Learning For Employee Training

Six good reasons, to be exact.

Distance learning software can:

  1. Save money
  2. Save time
  3. Provide continuity 
  4. Standardize learning across the organization  
  5. Increase accessibility
  6. Provide scalability 

Save money

On the surface, it can seem as if adding distance learning software to your team’s tech stack is an expensive future luxury. 

But think about it…

All that money you spend on new training material, new presenters, office shutdowns, out-of-town conferences, daily, meals, and travel expenses goes away with online distance learning. 

On the business side of costs, this is a win-win. 

Plus, 42% of companies using online distance learning experience an increase in profit. 

Employees will win, too, since they won’t be coughing up money on small expenditures like commuting or childcare for out-of-town training. 

Save time

As fast-paced as modern life is, everyone is looking to do more in the shortest time possible. Distance learning software replaces the need to waste valuable time on training.

Traditional training can take time away from other tasks employees could be doing like marketing, selling, networking, or focusing on growing the business. 

It’s hours of idle time spent listening to presentations or sitting through yet another meeting. 

Corporate distance learning programs take 40-60% less time than traditional, classroom-type learning. 

For business owners and managers, that’s more time focused on profit.

Continuity 

Traditional learning for employees is subject to things like a presenter, availability of material, environment, and availability of the trainees. One employee's training two years ago may differ from an employee hired this month. 

Distance learning programs provide a seamless supply of continuous training, so every employee on the team receives the same information in the same way across the board. 

Because of the admin tools distance learning software provides, training material is easily tweaked or updated based on feedback or outcome (also tracked with analytics and reporting capabilities). 

Standardization

In addition to continuity, distance learning programs provide standardized learning.

An entire team, office, or branch can train in the same way, based on the predetermined standards of learning objectives. 

For globalized companies, this creates an environment where the CX can remain the same, regardless of location, because all employees receive the same training in the same manner, which means that the standard of operation doesn’t have to change either. 

For industries that require recertifications to meet industry standards, certifications can be tracked and managed by business leadership so no one falls behind. This is particularly useful for certifications like OSHA and, in healthcare, HIPAA policy updates.

Accessibility 

Distance learning software makes learning for employees available and accessible from more than just the computer screen or conference room. 

It provides material based on combining different teaching methods, so the whole team can be accommodated no matter what type of learner they are. 

Never mind that distance learning programs mean the entire team can access updated training material from anywhere with WiFi…

Because of the accessibility of distance learning software, employees can microlearn.

Microlearning involves information in smaller, digestible pieces, when and where they have time, and it can increase engagement by 50%.

Implementing a distance learning program for your organization means that you’re all set for whatever unforeseen obstacles arise. 

Works for social distancing, remote work, or regular day-to-day office operations. 

Scalability 

Did you launch your business during the pandemic, and now it’s unexpectedly grown? 

Did your business change over the last two years to meet a growing demand for e-commerce? 

With online distance learning, it doesn’t matter because the software is 100% scalable to fit the size and needs of your team. 

Author as many courses as you’d like, import existing training material you have on hand or choose from existing course catalogs.

Distance learning software can scale up or down to ensure that training is covered regardless of the team's size. 

4 Disadvantages Of Distance Learning Programs For Employees

Disadvantages Of Distance Learning Programs For Employees

Although online distance learning can yield the benefits from the above section, all good things can have a dark side. 

We’d never leave that out. Here are four disadvantages that can come with distance learning for employees:

  • Difficulty staying motivated
  • Difficulty managing time
  • Lack of immediate feedback
  • Lack of peer group

Difficulty staying motivated

Some employees may struggle to stay motivated without a brick-and-mortar learning environment. 

Many people thrive in high-energy, competitive, physical environments. They appreciate that time is managed for them in traditional learning environments. 

The lack of structure and self-motivation can cause some distance learning classes to fail for employees who rely on those aspects. 

Some distance learning software programs combat this by providing a more personalized learning experience using features like customized learner portals that display an employee’s achievements.

Difficulty managing time

A lack of self-discipline when navigating a distance learning program can cause some employees to fall behind or not complete the training. 

It’s easy to do in today’s world where all the entertainment we could ever want or need is accessible through a tiny computer in our pockets. 

The distraction of online distance learning provided through the same devices that offer entertainment like social media, Netflix, or video games can be difficult to separate from for some employees. 

Even the ability of some distance learning software to enable notifications can get lost in an employee’s pop-up paradise on a phone if they have trouble managing their time effectively. 

Lack of immediate feedback

While many distance learning classes tout the rapid feedback features, some employees can get discouraged or distracted waiting for input from an instructor. 

Many people depend on feedback to gauge their progress or successes. Distance learning courses can’t provide the same immediate feedback as a traditional learning environment because the material is being accessed at different times. 

Aside from that, this can be a hangup if an employee has a technical issue or pressing question because they may have to wait hours or days before it’s resolved. 

Lack of a peer group

This disadvantage can be boiled down to the old debate of extrovert versus introvert. 

At the height of the pandemic, we saw reports about students of all ages falling behind with school's distance learning programs. Many of the reports claimed that the extroverted students struggled while the introverts excelled. 

The same can be true for employees with distance learning software. Some people need the physical aspects of a classroom setting and a peer group. 

While distance learning courses provide the tools to create a peer group with virtual classrooms and break-out rooms that allow employees to work in groups, this may not be enough for some employees. 

Some distance learning software programs enable users to create social profiles to build virtual communities and comradery. 

 

Online Distance Learning 

Main Advantages

  • Accessible from anywhere with the internet 
  • Provides standardization of training across employee teams
  • Saves money 
  • Saves time

Main Disadvantages

  • Can cause a lack of motivation 
  • Can be difficult for some employees to manage their time
  • Lack of peer groups

Best For 

  • Manufacturing
  • Sales
  • Tourism and hospitality 
  • Real estate
  • Healthcare 
  • Many more!


5 Tips to Keep Employees Engaged With Distance Learning Courses

Tips to Keep Employees Engaged With Distance Learning Courses

Ok, Ok. Hold your rulers!

Here’s how you can combat the disadvantages and keep employees engaged. 

  1. Webinars
  2. Virtual classrooms
  3. Gamification 
  4. Open communication 
  5. Implementing LMS platform

Webinars

A live online presentation where employees can interact with each other and with the instructor can be used for all kinds of engagement. 

While traditionally thought of as a stuffy, educational-only tool, webinars have taken everyone by storm. 

Think about it…

A TikTok or Facebook live is commonly used to build community and increase engagement among influencers and some businesses alike. 

This works because it provides an environment that is upbeat, fun, engaging, and adds a relatable element to online distance learning. By providing a more informal space, employees may be more likely to feel comfortable. 

Webinars are a great way to deliver both information and on-demand community-building opportunities that can keep employees engaged.  

Virtual classrooms

Three disadvantages of distance learning programs are a lack of peer group, difficulty managing time, and motivation. 

Virtual classrooms are a way to mitigate those disadvantages by providing a “real” feel to employee learning. 

Distance learning software can provide the tools to host virtual classrooms on the platform or collaborate with third-party companies like Zoom. 

For the lack of peer group issues, the use of break-out rooms offered through virtual classroom settings can help employees stay engaged since they could be learning in a group setting rather than an individual one. 

Gamification features

Who doesn’t love a good game? 

Everyone loves a good game, and psychology says so. All humans have an intrinsic motivation that can be tapped into with gamification. 

Gamification features include leaderboards, progress points, levels, checklists, and some offer virtual marketplaces based on points earned through games. 

Create friendly competition among the team, offer bonuses or rewards for completion, or simply tap into intrinsic motivation with these features to keep employees engaged with distance learning programs.

Open communication

Tips to Keep Employees Engaged With Distance Learning Courses

This may seem like a silly tip, but as the workforce and employees have shifted over generations, so too have their expectations and aspirations in employment. 

A better work-life balance came to the forefront of demands in the last few years, but many employees also want open communication. 

Open communication with distance learning can look like availability or providing information on learning material that is timely, relevant, and up to date. 

Fostering an environment of honest, open communication can ensure that employees feel valued, see their role in the big picture of a business, and build trust that benefits the whole team that transfers to the virtual learning space. 

Implementing LMS platforms 

The virtual classroom, course authoring, importing of existing materials, immediate feedback, and gamification features we mentioned here best collaborate with a learning management system (LMS) platform. 

We’ve already noted that this distance learning software provides branding and mobile application capabilities, but we thought it was worth bringing up again. 

Instead of making employees sit through boring, dry presentations that they dread, an LMS platform can create dynamic, engaging content that fits the needs of the business and is delivered right to the employees. 

Implementing an LMS platform provides all those features (and more) that administrators easily manage, making it easy to stay organized on the management side and employees to remain engaged with distance learning programs. 

 

Key Benefits 

Webinars

  • Real-time engagement
  • Community building

Virtual Classrooms

  • Provide an in-person learning experience
  • Allow for virtual peer groups

Gamification Features

  • Help gauge the progress of learning objectives
  • Increase engagement by making learning fun

Open Communication

  • Builds trust
  • Provides employee appreciation

LMS Platform 

  • Help organize material
  • Deliver content  


FAQs

What is online distance learning?

A method of teaching and learning where students and teachers are separated and learn through the capabilities of the internet. This can be achieved through email, virtual classrooms, or video hosting software. 

Instructors create and upload learning material (often through distance learning software) and students access the material at any time. 

Simply put, online distance learning is remote learning. 

What are the benefits of online distance learning for employees?

Too many to name. 

Just kidding!

Distance learning classes can save money and time; provide continuity of training across global or geographically separated teams; increase the accessibility of material; scale with the growing needs of a team; and create standardized learning for the organization.

Who does online distance learning benefit besides employees?

Distance learning courses provide an overview of the team for mid-level managers and a broader view of the organization to CEOs and upper-level management. 

This way, mid-level managers can track the progress of their teams and make suggestions that could aid in training material development. 

The reporting gained from this allows upper-level management of SME businesses to gauge the whole organization and make the necessary tweaks to training. 

What industries can online distance learning be used for?

While online distance learning is often thought of in the context of schools only, most industries can benefit from the tools. 

Healthcare industries can utilize distance learning software to provide training material after protocols have changed. Manufacturing industries can use distance learning courses to update safety and introduce existing employees to newer technology practices. 

Sales teams can use distance learning classes to train new hire sales reps for faster onboarding times. 

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are many other industries that can benefit from online distance learning, too. 

Summary 

Distance Learning Program

Let’s make this short and sweet, eh? 

Say goodbye to the headache of coordinating training and conference events with distance learning software for your organization. 

Create, design, implement, deliver, track, and update training material in real-time to save time and money while seamlessly developing entire teams of employees across the organization.  

We know you’re sold on distance learning software, so we’re available to answer all your questions and help you get started with one of our onboarding teams that are available to assist you at every step. Click here for a video demo and all our contact info

Author:
Tyson Chaplin

Tyson Chaplin earned his Master of Educational Technology degree from Boise State University in 2014. He also earned a graduate certificate in Technology Integration and holds teaching certificates in online teaching, special education, and history.

Tyson is an Idaho native who is passionate about technology and how it can help all people learn and better themselves. He has worked in both public and private sectors. Tyson enjoys cooking and traveling with his wife, Malia, and restores vintage video game systems in his free time.

Read More
Tovuti 10-Minute Demo

Quick and comprehensive video recording of the #1 Ranked Learning Management System.

Watch Video
Tovuti 10-Minute Demo

Quick and comprehensive video recording of the #1 Ranked Learning Management System.

Tips and Trends
Tovuti is on the cutting edge of online learning and has curated tips and trends for those involved in the e-learning and LMS space.
Visit the Blog

Get in touch with us.

Take the next step toward a next-generation LMS

Say goodbye to hard-to-use, disconnected dinosaur tech. A powerful and easy-to-use LMS is only a few clicks away.