One of the most talked about buzzword these days is eLearning. In its most basic form, it simply compliments traditional instructor-based classroom training by delivering learning content using technology. Increasingly, organizations are using eLearning to upgrade their people skills.
The latest industry reports forecast that in 2015, the eLearning industry will be worth $107 billion. India is expected to achieve a staggering growth rate of 55%, the highest in the world, although USA and Europe will account for approximately 70% of the revenue generated.
What started as a minor buzz with just a dial up net connection and a web page has blossomed into an ever-expanding network of enormously sophisticated digital learning and training content, custom-delivered through internet on personal computers, tablets and smartphones sans borders and classrooms.
It all began with a rhetoric that eLearning’s advent will revolutionize the schooling system and alter the way people teach and learn. The first evangelists saw it as the dawn of a new era where printed texts will become obsolete. Not many, however, bought this dream. Conventional teaching methodologies and books are still flourishing. People still raise doubts whether an impersonal machine-mediated instruction will ever replace the touch and feel of the real thing. Some are even questioning the very efficacy of the eLearning model.
The big question was – and still is – whether the deliverables will match the promise of eLearning. Despite the big strides, many are still apprehensive and unwilling to embrace eLearning as a tool to meet their training requirements. Yet the fact that India is ready for explosive growth with its eLearning converts – both students and businesses – shows that perceptions are changing, slowly but surely.
Clearly, this change has been brought about by an impressive array of research studies that convincingly demonstrated that organizations stood to benefit distinctly and dramatically by replacing conventional instructor-based training systems with eLearning. Some studies turned out to be important milestones in this journey.
Dow Chemical, for example, showed that while they were on an average spending $95 per learner / per course in a conventional classroom setting, this expenditure was reduced to $11 when they switched to eLearning. Similarly, Ernst & Young reduced their nearly 3000 hours of classroom training to 500 hours, substituting the rest to 700 hours of web-based learning and 200 hours of distance learning. By doing this, they succeeded in reducing their training costs by 35%. Similarly, British Telecom which is reported to have spent £17.8 million over a period of five years to train its 23,000 employees managed to bring this expenditure down to £5.9 million and completed the same training in just three months.
Apart from these trend-setting examples, thousands of case studies have emerged over the last few years which prove that the adoption of eLearning has massive benefits for any corporate or industry. Besides significant cost savings in budgetary spends on corporate training, many global organizations are now also embracing eLearning technologies for recruitment and retention of their staff members. Google, for example, has enrolled 80,000 employees to pursue HTML5 course at Udacity, an eLearning network.
Today, nearly 74% of Fortune 500 firms and 77% of companies in US offer online corporate training to their staff through eLearning methods. Yet doubts persist. In some cases, there is simple technological phobia; in others, tough questions are being raised on ROI (Return on Investment).
In recent years, lot of work has in fact been done on ROI of eLearning.
The first area where figures speak for themselves is a demonstrable reduction in operational costs. In the traditional method, nearly 85% of the training budget in a typical organization usually goes to meet the costs of infrastructure, logistics and salaries. Studies have shown that corporates save 20% of their operational costs during the first year and 50% to 70% in subsequent years when they switch to eLearning. More savings occur because instruction time to deliver the same training can be cut down up to 60%. It is also seen that eLearning reduces disruptions in office routines because training can be delivered anytime, anywhere in a self-paced mode.
More importantly, such personalized self-paced training is consistently shown to have produced better information retention rates by up to 50%. Partly, higher retention is a function of moving away from insipid texts and lectures to multi-media content, flexi-delivered in interactive and collaborative settings.
According to one study, better retention leads to an increase in staff efficiency by 24% and customer satisfaction by 45%. This, in turn, leads to an increase in profitability by 30%.
In another study, eLearning is credited with preparing organizations for cutting edge competitiveness by virtue of its ability to keep its content continuously updated with global best practices and expertise. Unlike printed manuals, digital texts offer options of instant revisions, facilitating smooth transitions to new facts and new technologies. Figures show that businesses which have converted to eLearning are 46% more likely to be market leaders in their industry, and experience a 34% increase in their ability to meet changing customer requirements.
How does all this translate into ROI? On the basis of an extensive in-depth study, Cisco has claimed that eLearning results in a ROI of 900%. For every $1 Cisco spends on training internally, the company claims to have gained $9 in productivity.
In the coming business landscape of flexi-hours, virtual offices and telecommuting, the importance of eLearning becomes even more prominent. There is no denying that eLearning has become the need of the hour with its ability to abbreviate product launch cycles, on-boarding routines, along with competency and compliance upgrades.
The eLearning industry is all set to witness record setting growth. With its proven value and efficiency, there is no doubt, eLearning is here to stay and grow.
Transcending Knowledge into Business