In the twenty first century, ours is knowledge-based economy. All industry leaders agree that the performance of an organization depends on how up-to-date the employees are on latest knowledge and skills. Thus organizations are trying to invest more in training and learning processes as well as analysing their training needs in greater depth. It is a huge challenge to train a larger number of employees across a great global spread. Many large organizations, when faced with this daunting challenge, are turning to technology-aided learning to cater to their training and development needs. However, the use of e-Learning is limited to large organizations only. It is also an efficient and effective solution to the training problems of Small and Medium businesses; who have limited training budgets but a persistent need for continuous learning.
There are various benefits of adopting e-learning for small and medium businesses. The ones that are perceived to be most utilized by employees and stakeholders alike are the ones that are responsible for these organizations to choose e-learning for their training and learning needs. The first one that comes to mind is that of a reduced cost of training. But is that all? A paper titled ‘Meeting the Training Needs of SMEs: Is e-Learning a Solution?’ by Andrée Roy and Louis Raymond dwells into the various reasons why both employees and stakeholders in Small and Medium businesses are opening up to e-learning.
• Availability of Learning: E-Learning provides a great deal of flexibility learning manifold. The learners have the option of choosing the time and place to take up the e-course – within or beyond office hours. In fact many of them choose to access the training beyond working hours in order to fit in other deliverables and requirements.
• Increased Access to Learning: With adopting e-learning, organizations are able to make training accessible to learners that would otherwise be unavailable to them or just available for a little time. E-learning also increases the access to industry expertise that would be unavailable otherwise or be definitely very difficult to come by. The expertise could be in many ways – documents or literature written by experts, case studies citing the work of industry experts or even live collaboration with experts via social mediums like live chat or video conferencing.
• Modularity: Most e-learning courses are modular in structure and clearly present the course content in a linear style for learners to go through in a logical manner. However, the menu clearly states various sections of the e-course and the learner has the choice of doing or re-doing only part of the course that is relevant to him or her. This brings a very ‘personalized’ flavour to learning and aligns to pecific needs of the individual learner.
• Learning at individual pace: Most small and medium businesses have people from different educational and professional backgrounds. Some learn fast and some prefer to pace out their learning. This too adds to the personalized experience of learning that most modern employees now want from workplace learning.
• Instant and Interactive Feedback: The feedback from assessments taken on the e-learning platform can be instantly shared – especially when learners are taking assessments based on objective type questions. Many modern LMS also have the feature of sharing custom and personalized feedback for subjective answers as well – giving learners a morale boost and a push for further learning. E-Learning solutions also opens up the possibility of getting feedback by different means – live feedback via chat or video conferencing, e-mail, instant messaging or even SMS.
• Varied learning styles: Employees may have different learning style and e-learning can provide course material in various formats to suit the varying learning styles of employees. With the inclusion of graphics, audio and visuals e-courses are more suited to the learning styles across a varied audience profile.
• Course updating: The e-courses in technology-aided delivery are up-to-date and it is easy to make changes as you go ahead. This makes sure that e-course is utilized for a long time, without investing too much time or money in updating it. Unlike classroom material, which can often get outdated and hence, of no use, e-content is sustainable for a longer time. Thus once you invest in creating an e-course, you can utilize it for varied audiences and for a period of time – with suitable changes that can be made quickly and easily.
Globalization of the economy has increased competitive pressures not only on bigger organizations but also on small and medium businesses. In this changing environment, organisational learning and workforce training constitutes a critical success factor for these enterprises. E-learning is slowly but surely making a positive impact on the training and learning needs of smaller organizations. For those who manage huge potential of e-learning wisely and create the right structure for delivery across smaller organization, it is undoubtedly a recipe for success.