Are your preconceived ideas about eLearning services getting in the way of actually helping your employees?
Consider this: YouTube, the video-sharing site now owned by Google, has been around since 2005, making it almost 15 years old. Kids who grew up with it are now employees in today’s offices, factories, schools, and studios. Not only have they been immersed in video and online apps for most of their formative years, those technologies have been a huge part of their education and training.
Which is why I get concerned when I hear managers and HR professionals—those responsible for training this generation—labor under certain misconceptions when it comes to eLearning and eLearning services. Some of them reject the very tools that can make the task easier, more effective, and less expensive.
Time to do some myth busting. For our purposes here, we’ll define “eLearning services” to cover a range of services and products that make eLearning possible, including content libraries, eLearning platforms, learning management systems (LMSs), and even content creation tools. So what myths surround these kinds of services?
Myth #1: eLearning will replace live trainers
Whenever a new technology comes along, people raise the alarm, worrying that it will take away jobs. I don’t deny this happens sometimes, but more often, the jobs don’t go away. The nature of the job merely shifts.
This is exactly what has happened in employee training and development. Corporate trainers are using eLearning tools to standardize and present their content, freeing them to focus more on lesson design and personal interaction with students. Modern eLearning tools also give trainers new options, like assigning pre-work or customized learning paths based on assessments. (For more on the benefits eLearning services provide trainers, see our blog post “5 Blended-Learning Benefits for Corporate Trainers.” There’s even a link there to our eBook specifically for trainers that helps with the transition!)
Myth #2: eLearning technology is too expensive
Yes, it takes time and talent to create (and manage) content. How much, you ask? A 2017 study by the Association for Talent Development found that creating an hour’s worth of digital training content takes anywhere from 42 to 142 people-hours, on average, depending on the complexity. Even if you paid your creative team $25 an hour, that would mean $1,050 to $3,550 for just an hour’s worth of training!
Things are worse if you aren’t using digital training content at all. Live training sessions often involve things like travel, lodging, and setup, on top of instructor costs. All those overhead costs can account for up to 80% of a training budget. Needless to say, that money can be better allocated.
Companies (like ej4) that offer off-the-shelf eLearning content can achieve huge economies of scale that make eLearning content much more affordable. In fact, we offer our LMS for free when you purchase our content.
Myth #3: eLearning is boring
Look, I get it. We’ve all seen some horrible training videos at some point in our lives. Videos so boring and dated, they are both comical and painful to watch. Or role-playing videos that are awkward and cringe-worthy. Or silly animations with a distracting robot voice where you forgot what the video was about. Or talking head videos with an unrelatable presenter and no graphics. Or simply voice-over PowerPoint with clip art and too many bullet points.
All this means is that not all eLearning content is created equal. Effective eLearning content should be crafted according to best practices for instructional design, backed by our most current theories about adult learning. Putting it in a microlearning format also helps keep employees engaged, presenting just a few key points per lesson that employees can easily fit into their busy schedules.
Myth #4: eLearning is only for millennials
OK, I plead guilty here. The way I opened this piece made it sound like eLearning was something that managers had to adopt in order to get their message through to millennials.
The truth is that effective eLearning content can capture anyone's attention. Do you enjoy streaming shows and movies on Netflix? Sure you do. It appeals to all ages. The same can be true of your own organization’s online content.
In fact, our clients routinely use our courses and learning tools for all their employees: Managers and team members, entry-level workers and company veterans. It doesn’t matter how many generations you have in the workplace: Engaging video is the great equalizer when it comes to employee training.
Myth #5: eLearning only works for office employees at a computer
Quick: Right now, where is your phone?
According to studies by the Pew Research Center, 81% of Americans now have smartphones. If you’re one of them, you have the ability, right now, to watch videos almost anywhere.
Not all eLearning tools are made compatible with mobile devices, but many are, including those we provide here at ej4. In fact, our approach was learner first, mobile first. Our priority was to create an environment for mobile learning that can happen anywhere, anytime. Imagine a warehouse worker uses his phone to watch a safety video in the warehouse before using a new ladder. Or a salesperson reviews some proven closing techniques in their car before going in to see a new prospect.
Content available anytime, anywhere adds a whole new level of usefulness and relevance to your employees. It’s clearly not just for office employees.
Myth #6: Most eLearning content is too generic
It’s true, not all eLearning training is going to be custom content for your organization. Many off-the-shelf topics are universal for any successful company like communications, accountability, and problem solving. This also applies to many employee onboarding topics such as civility, diversity, or even Microsoft Office.
Generic or off-the-shelf content can also apply to safety training. Take our video on proper fire extinguisher operation. Does this really need to be a customized course? Do the fire extinguishers somehow operate differently at your company?
Save your time and resources for company-specific messages like mission, vision, and values, or perhaps specific programs processes, benefits and policies. For these kinds of content, it makes sense to use authoring tools to create that custom content. That’s why we offer easy, useful authoring tools as well—we know that, in some cases, you’ll want less-generic content. To us, those kinds of tools are an essential part of providing eLearning services.
All eLearning is not created equal
These myths are based on some level of truth or negative experience. Some technology is expensive. Some eLearning videos are boring. You need a critical eye when evaluating potential partners to add to your training mix. We have created some informative resources to help you navigate the eLearning landscape.
- Get more clarity into the various definitions of eLearning in our blog post “So, What is eLearning?”
- If you are considering adding eLearning content to your onboarding process, you will find this blog post helpful “How Off-the-Shelf Training Content Can Support Your Employee Onboarding.”
- These two blog posts give you helpful checklists for buying eLearning content and an LMS: