Why eLearning Works: A Look into the Nuances of Professional Development


Learning and development professionals are often tasked with the responsibility of justifying professional development within their organizations. Large companies hire and build teams for the purpose of creating learning and development growth opportunities, but often remain skeptical of L&D as an essential business sector. Furthermore, unlike other business departments, L&D is often the “first to go,” due to its perceived disconnect from business outcomes and growth (losing out to more mainstream departments such as marketing sales, operations, etc). If you’ve been working in the L&D industry for some time you will know that these misconceptions are exactly that: misconceptions. As a full-service learning and development organization, we feel obligated to provide L&D professionals with the knowledge they need to inspire change and development in their organizations. That starts with being able to justify effective training programs.

Fortunately, the recent emergence of eLearning as a mainstream professional development tool has changed the way in which effectiveness and return on investment (ROI) are measured. That is, L&D professionals and management alike have access to seemingly endless and invaluable data that can show just how effective learning programs are. The overwhelming consensus is something that all business and organizations need to realize to maximize their training programs: eLearning works. Here’s why.

eLearning is scalable.

One of the most common issues organizations face when creating professional development programs is striking an effective balance between customization and budget. Prior to the age of eLearning, it was difficult to create learning experiences that were both affordable and scalable. By creating development opportunities that live in virtual environments, organizations can spend less money on individual learners. This is contrary to obsolescent in-person instructor-led training, which limits where employees could be and how many employees were participating. eLearning has no such restraints.

For example, let’s say an organization is looking to implement a diversity and inclusion training program. This is a development opportunity that is valuable for all employees within the organization, regardless of department or team. Instead of having to coordinate hundreds of L&D sessions across different geographical areas, offices, etc., that company can leverage eLearning to create a scalable solution that can be pushed out to all learners simultaneously. This not only saves money but can also help solve logistical nightmares in-person training rollout can cause.

eLearning is accessible.

As mentioned above, eLearning strategies provide unrivaled access to professional development throughout your organization. This is beneficial for both learners and management, as it helps during and after learning program rollout. By creating learning materials that are accessible via digital platforms, your organization opens up a plethora of opportunities for professional development.

A common issue training programs of the past have run into is that not all learners within a given organization have the capacity to learn at the same time. Many in-person or instructor-led learning programs mandate that all employees participate in training on set dates and at set times, which can lead to all types of issues. What if there are meeting conflicts? What if employees are on vacation, or sick? These may seem like isolated incidents, but they occur much more than anticipated. Leveraging an eLearning program allows you develop, fund, and rollout your learning without the risk of failing to reach parts of your audience. If you have reservations about a fully asynchronous learning program, consider leveraging eLearning for performance support resources.

eLearning is dynamic and responsive.

eLearning provides many opportunities for you to track the success of your learners. Depending on how and where you house your eLearnings (in an LMS, for example), you and your organization will have access to a variety of data that can help you create better solutions for your learners. Knowledge checks are no longer just for the learner; with eLearning, they are also a way for you to gather and analyze large amounts of data that can help you better understand L&D effectiveness.

If your company implements L&D programs or updates learning criteria often, metrics and data can be a lifesaver. Understanding where your learners are falling short and why will save money and time when designing new learning experiences. Furthermore, learner metrics are one of the best ways to obtain universal buy-in for a new learning program. They allow you to visualize learner data, which is valuable when working to obtain funding and engagement.

eLearning is engaging.

We’ve said it time and again, but one of the biggest factors of L&D success is its ability to engage learners. If your learning program isn’t engaging, it probably won’t help your employees or students learn effectively. eLearning provides unparalleled customization and interaction, thus creating learning programs that help individuals of varying backgrounds and expertise levels learn.

There are quite literally hundreds of eLearning strategies your organization use, but some of the most popular include interactive modules and hybrid experiences that necessitate engagement and encourage critical thinking. A great example of an engaging eLearning strategy is something we have been working hard to perfect in recent months—the virtual escape room.

In this exploration-based experience, learners are tasked with engaging with their surroundings (which can be built to have any theme, i.e. medical facility, classroom, office, etc.) to develop an understanding of the course material. This is just one of many emerging eLearning strategies that is changing the way we think about L&D engagement and learner retention.

While eLearning has been on the L&D scene for quite a few years now, there are still many aspects of its effectiveness that are not widely understood or leveraged. As you and your organization works to create new learning experiences, keep in mind the benefits that eLearning can offer. As mentioned above, its agility and versatility mean that nearly anyone can benefit from eLearning, from small development projects to corporation-wide training overhauls.


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