Although it already has 23 years of history, we can say that e-learning is still a tool that is between adolescence and youth. The reason for this is easily deducible: the acceleration of technological innovation that every day is having an impact on all the tools (software, hardware, increasingly sophisticated and powerful mobile devices, etc.) available to both people and companies. The term e-learning was created by Elliott Masie, at the TechLearn conference, in November 1999 and there is a general acceptance of what the term means, in reference to the “use of network technology to design, deliver, select, manage and extend learning.
And this unstoppable evolution meant that just 11 more years after it came into circulation, 2010 was the year that marked another milestone, that mobile devices became more popular and smartphones and tablets appeared. And the revolution that took place, as always occurs with the unstoppable evolution of NT’s, was that people no longer used them only to make calls but also to watch videos, read books and play games. And this had consequences for the strategic decisions made by the telephone companies to try to always be one step ahead of their competitors in terms of device performance, but especially their connectivity, to make it easier for users, in addition to talking on the phone could communicate better through chats, mail systems, whatsapp and especially have better access to videos that they could view on different platforms, in the case of YouTube.
For this reason, the term e-learning is directly linked to any digital device, making it easy for the user to watch educational videos, read articles or answer questionnaires.
Personalize the user experience
One of the main reasons why e-learning is so popular is the possibility of personalizing your learning experience with innovations such as augmented reality or virtual reality.
If we study the phenomenon of e-learning from a sociological point of view, it undoubtedly helps us to develop as people, since we are continually reading articles, we inform ourselves, we find ourselves trapped in educational content on YouTube, and we can also have access to games and other tools, such as a memory game. Cognitive improvement is unquestionable, because it makes it easier for us to access more information and process all these inputs faster in our brain, that is, whether we like it or not, we are being more hybrid people in the sense of having had an eminently conventional education (those who today they are adults), although those who are in their early youth, let’s say up to 38 to 40 years old, have already had the opportunity to train with NT’s and have become accustomed to this cultural change that e-learning represents.
Of course, this sociocultural phenomenon has also had an impact on companies, as they realized the versatility and possibilities it offered for training their staff and helping with internal processes.
The benefits of e-learning for companies
Today many companies, from the largest to the smallest, use e-learning to manage the training of their employees to improve their skills, teach them new tools, or train them to promote them to other positions.
Therefore, it has become a space of continuous opportunities for organizations since it offers a lower cost in training, which is manifested in:
– Investments in e-learning, for example, so that staff have access to certain knowledge, such as a new business model, is as simple as setting up an online course and sharing it with all your employees.
– There are savings in transfers, stays, room rental, etc.
– The greater coverage allows you to train dozens of employees in different geographical latitudes and do it systematically and uniformly.
– Employees do not have to participate in face-to-face classes. All they need is a digital device and internet access.
Knowledge and development of employees
In recent years we have been concerned from the direction of human resources in all organizations, for a better training of employees if each of the companies to which they belonged, wanted to remain competitive. Of course, when we want to have employees always up to date with the latest knowledge in matters of, for example, administrative management or also in the fields of marketing and commercialization, e-learning is so practical that it allows organizations to have a single base of knowledge, since all the learning material is stored in one place, for example, in an LMS (Learning Management System) which is an expression in English that means “learning management system”. And this makes it easier for employees to log into the LMS when it is not only more convenient for them, but also more appropriate to their functions and responsibilities, for which they can do it from any device, trying not to alter their daily operational work schedule and go complementing training and knowledge updating with the daily routine. Sometimes, they just need to remember knowledge that they had forgotten.
If we compare it with traditional training, e-learning undoubtedly represents an advantage, since in the former the company must have a trainer and his schedules fit in with the people to be trained. Instead, as the LMS is available at any time, making it possible for employees to study whenever they want, whether they are on the road, during lunch or at home.
Monitor the evolution of the training process
The e-learning methodology makes it easy to monitor any training process without any problem. Most LMSs have a learning statistics feature that shows each student’s progress in graphs and reports.
Adaptation to the organization’s operations
When it comes to implementing a new procedure in any company, what is it that they usually ask themselves, both middle managers and staff: if it adapts to the operation and, of course, the time, since it requires the other adaptation, that is, the of the staff that is immersed in said change.
When you have e-learning, it certainly helps the employees to keep up with the company and also solve problems in real time. And if it is necessary to know what the new business model is going to be like that is going to be applied in a certain branch and the local sales team has to know it, there is no better methodology than presenting all the news with a course that is available in LMS and that It can be seen by dozens of employees in any geography where they are.
Personal enrichment and better productivity from employee engagement
When employees are involved in e-learning courses, there is a certain automatic commitment on their part with the management and the organization, since they feel integrated, at the same time that they perceive a concern of the company for their training and development. The interactivity presented by the methodology facilitates the creativity of the employees simultaneously with the incorporation of new knowledge. The strategy of also incorporating game and competition elements is specifically focused on maintaining interest with prizes and qualifications.
The usefulness of e-learning in the hiring processes of new employees
The process of incorporating new employees can be complicated, especially when it comes to a large company, and it becomes more complicated when it has delegations in various regions of the country. Hence, presenting the company to new employees with the elaboration of a formal presentation through an online course is ideal to present the history, the people, the daily activities, the projects, etc.
As its term indicates, it is synchronized, that is, it is carried out live, in real time with the interaction of the participants. Therefore, there is a coincidence in time between the teacher and the students participating in a meeting with a stipulated time and certain means of communication. By definition, face-to-face training is synchronous training. In the online world, this training model is carried out mainly by videoconference, with the particularity that these systems include complementary tools such as the virtual whiteboard in which the teacher can show documents, messaging and chat for communication between the participants or other options. such as the possibility of recording the session.
Most videoconferences distinguish between the roles of presenter or host (person who creates and moderates the videoconference) and attendees or guests.
In this case, the participants do not have to coincide in time, but content is created as tasks. Then, the students will be able to decide when to carry out the learning tasks, which are carried out through e-learning platforms, whose usual functions are:
– Courses are created that comprise one or more teaching units.
– The different modules (didactic units) are structured with activities that the students must carry out and that can be for a first objective such as assimilating the information (seeing a text, a video, a PDF, listening to an audio, etc.) and for a second objective, such as taking a test in which you must interact (answer questions, take a test, submit a paper, etc.).
As for the configuration of this type of course, everything depends on the platform, since there will be more or fewer options, which in turn is divided into two groups:
- a) Those that affect the way of carrying out the course: dates of completion, assigning teachers, configuring whether the content will be permanently accessible or will have limitations, etc.
- b) Those that complement the usefulness of the course through tools: create forums, diplomas, satisfaction surveys, etc.
E-learning is part of the circular economy and is a pillar of sustainability
For decades we were used to what we said and did: produce, use and throw away. Unfortunately, it was for a long time that people and companies did not use the expression and we did not apply it either, such as reduce, or the other one, which is reuse, or the most important of all, which is recycle.
The paradigm of the current linear economic model is coming to an end and its place is increasingly being taken by the circular economy. We have to start from the basis that the reuse of elements would be a relief for nature, and that the current model of production and management of resources, goods and services is unsustainable.
E-learning platforms are what we can call zero waste. The reason is very simple: saving tons (thousands of them) of paper that are used in traditional administrative and training processes, but thanks to e-learning, it is an essential support point for employees in companies to contribute to preserving the environment. At the same time, users of this methodology do not have to travel to the place where they study, they do not release additional carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. And what about the production of electricity that is used to feed the system that does not go unnoticed by ecology. However, this carbon footprint is much smaller than in the case of traditional education. According to statistics provided by eLearning Industry, e-learning for companies is 90% more efficient than traditional courses in terms of energy consumption and 85% more efficient in terms of carbon dioxide emission.
If you’re an entrepreneur and business owner, you don’t have to spend time looking for trainers, as well as resources and places to hold training. For this reason, when in the company you run you realize the need to train employees on a certain topic, the most practical thing, as well as efficient, is to develop a course and implement it in the system. Also, if it is a repetitive course, for example, an introductory course for new employees, you do not need to organize it each and every time. Instead, send an email with some explanations and a link to a course. Therefore, this will be all the time and effort you need to spend.
Practical perspective on the benefits of online learning
The advantages of e-learning for companies have materialized in the last two years in which societies in all countries have been hit by the pandemic. This led to significant transformations in the business and educational sectors. Many companies had to adapt to the new conditions of social distancing and quarantine. However, the real question today is not whether e-learning can move your business forward, but whether you can afford to ignore this great prospect. If you haven’t implemented eLearning yet, now is the time to stop and do some planning to get it up and running.
Terms that you must differentiate in e-learning
When you start looking for information about e-learning you will come across terms that you don’t know what they mean or how they are different. We believe that it is a good method to make a review and synthesis at the same time, of those that are important for you to know:
– There are terms synonymous with synchronous communication tools that organize live meetings with participants who share audio and video, and that use video conferences, webinars and video calls.
– Online seminars, synonymous with asynchronous base systems where you can create training content, enroll students and monitor them, which are the e-learning platforms that use LMS (Learning Management System), EVA (Virtual Learning Environment) and Virtual Campus.
Know what Virtual Classroom means
It is a somewhat ambiguous term that can refer to both a synchronous and asynchronous system. In Latin America, for example, it is often used as a synonym for e-learning platform, while in Spain we associate it more with videoconferences. Therefore, every time we read that term on a website, blog or legal text, the first thing we must do is deduce, from the context, which system it refers to.
Can both synchronous and asynchronous models of online training be combined?
We might think that synchronous and asynchronous training are two completely separate paths and we should choose one or the other. And this is not the case, since most e-learning platforms have the option of integrating videoconferences. This means that videoconferences can be created and managed from the e-learning platform itself, and the participants and the time spent in each one are also recorded.
Therefore, by combining both tools we can teach courses with asynchronous content, which also have synchronous elements, being able to establish the weight between both options according to our objectives. And the latter is key, because the great advantage is that both modalities are integrated into the same system, multiplying flexibility and creating new options.
The great advantage of using this technology is that you can organize it on your own if you have enough time to do it. On the other hand, it is always good to have experts in the development of training programs such as Spanish business schools.
As second vice president EUPHE (European Union of Private Higher Education) I want to highlight the leadership of Spanish business schools in the use of e-learning methodology in postgraduate education.