We’ve gotten to the point where we realize that in order to have a successful career, we must embrace learning as a lifelong initiative. School, in the traditional sense, might end when we leave high school or college, but that doesn’t mean we should give up on learning.
As the global economy continues to impact the workforce, many of us have realized that we need to improve on or acquire new skills to remain competitive. Businesses that want to maintain an international presence look for team members with myriad skills, not just a single specialty. That means we need to find ways to acquire those skills that will not compromise our present positions, or impact the work-life balance we strive to achieve. The traditional classroom has become obsolete as many people look for alternatives that are more convenient, yet just as effective. The most popular alternative is online training.
American colleges and universities have embraced online learning by offering a variety of curricula to students that can be accessed without ever having to show up in a classroom. This includes live lectures that are streamed live, as well as pre-recorded modules that can be viewed by students whenever, and wherever they choose. Many schools even offer vocational training and degree programs that were once strictly relegated to classroom. For example, nurses wanting to go beyond a basic R.N. degree can now obtain bachelors, masters, and even doctoral degrees that require little to no attendance in an actual classroom. We’ve certainly come a long way.
Businesses have been a bit slower on the uptake. Recently, however, many high-profile companies have chosen to invest in online training by adding Learning Management Systems (LMS) to their in-house computer systems. An LMS allows employees at every level to access training materials to enhance performance and learn new skills. Management can quantify results by formulating quizzes and other exercises to ensure that employees are benefiting from these sessions. Overall, online learning/training has become a win-win in academia, as well as in the world of business.
Here are 15 reasons why online training benefits both businesses and employees:
1. Online Training Can Provide a Clear Path to Employment
Online training not only benefits the workers of the future, it can also provide a career path for someone employed who needs to learn new skills. Employers should consider relevant online courses that will help with career advancement that are either available as part of an in-house LMS, or an accredited academic institution.
2. Online Training Is Motivational
Online training is self-directed learning, meaning it requires even more focus, discipline, and drive than traditional classroom learning does. The motivation you exhibit during online training will bring benefits into other parts of life.
3. The Majority of Courses Are Available On-Demand
In most cases, the learner can create his or her own schedule. Businesses that choose to incorporate a learning management system into their computer system offer employees the flexibility to access course materials any time it is convenient for them.
4. Online Training Is Cost-Effective
In-house training helps cut down on travel expenses, registration costs, consultant fees, and other expenses associated with seminars and on-site meetings. Not only does it help control expenses, it improves employees’ quality of life since they don’t have to deal with the stress of traveling.
5. Online Learning/Training Has Gained Credibility and Acceptance
Due to the widespread popularity of open courseware, the education community is beginning to realize just how much potential online learning has. And we are only just starting to see how effective it is becoming.
6. Online Learning/Training Offers Anonymity, and Fosters Creativity
Sometimes, students and instructors can face biases towards appearance, race, or other factors in a traditional classroom setting. The anonymity of an online training environment affords freedom of expression and encourages creativity.
7. There Is Usually Room For Everyone
Gone is the worry about reserving a spot in the class of your choice, or making the waiting list for lectures or seminars. The majority of online training courses are all-inclusive.
8. You’re Never Too Old to Learn or Train Online
Online training promotes lifelong learning. Once you’ve dipped your toe in the water, you realize it doesn’t matter how old you are, or how long you’ve been out of the classroom and in the workforce. Anyone can learn anything from an infinite number of available business and academic courses. Regardless of whether you need certification, licensure, or need to learn a new language, chances are, there is an online course for that.
9. Gain a Competitive Edge in the Job Market
Online training allows professionals to remain competitive in their respective fields without having to take time off of their jobs to update their skill sets and expertise.
10. Online Learning/Training is a Mobile Classroom
You can study not only from your laptop at home or your PC in the office, but also on-the-go from your smart phone or tablet.
11. Increase Accountability Naturally
Online training can be even more accountable than traditional professional development because assignments, assessment scores, activities, course completions, and participant progress can all be monitored by management through an LMS platform.
12. Online Learning/Training Leverages Interactivity and Multimedia
The highest quality online training courses take full advantage of the interactivity and multimedia power of the Internet. They engage learners with videotaped classroom scenes, interviews, and online demonstrations of concepts. This wide variety of activity and question formats offers a more valuable learning experience than in typical workshop or textbook-based classes.
13. Online Learning/Training Levels the Playing Field
Every learner has the same opportunity to “speak up” by posting messages without typical distractions such as seating arrangements, competing with other student voices, and other deterrents. Shy and anxious students feel more comfortable expressing ideas and backing up facts when posting online instead of speaking in a large, crowded lecture room.
14. There is Greater Accessibility to Instructors
Online training benefits learners by providing an additional layer of instructor accessibility. Learners have the ability to submit questions via e-mail at any time. This is good for the instructor too, as responses can be given at his or her convenience. This is particularly helpful when an employee’s schedule does not allow for training during traditional business hours.
15. Learners Have Continual Access to Course Materials
When course content and activities are provided online, learners no longer need to worry about accessing printed materials. Assignments can be completed during the most productive times as busy employees can choose to download readings or take practice exams whenever it is most convenient, like in the evening after kids are put to bed, or at 4am during a bout of insomnia.
Continual access to course documents also ensures that learners can obtain materials at any time, eliminating common excuses such as, “The library was closed,” or “All the copies of reserve readings were checked out,” or “I missed that handout during that seminar.” When everything necessary for course completion is all in one place, it provides even more motivation to succeed.
Kathy Amato is the Director of Marketing at Coggno.com, a website that aggregates online training courses and also offers a free Learning Management System.