Why E-Learning Doesn’t Work

Training is an inevitable part of any business and selecting the right type of training method is becoming more crucial than ever to ensure a productive workforce. The perceptions of e-learning as a training platform has seem to come in a full circle from its early days. Initially it was perceived as interactive, distance learning for engaging users and a valuable delivery medium. But it now seems like the glory days of E-learning are over and can make learning and training less personal, less engaging and in the process less effective.

Given the inevitable demise of E-leaning, it is surprising to learn that from the CIPD’s 2015 learning and talent development study, 74% of companies reported using some level of eLearning and around 30%* of corporate training is through e-leaning. With around 6.7 million people taking online courses** and a global market of around $107 billion globally (Global Industry Analysts), there are major limitations to e-learning, and the time has come to address some of the major limitations.


E-learning forgets people are at the heart of learning and training

Not everyone will be suited to this type of learning or will suit the company’s needs. E-learning requires a high-level of self-discipline and personal time management. Those conducing training need to be highly self-motivated to make full advantage of the learning materials, which can make the experience very impersonal. Simply working through a set of packaged programmes can become frustrating and ultimately lead to key messages being overlooked. No matter how carefully you design the learning package, giving people the control of the learning experience can result in people becoming disengages and in certain times become overwhelmed or even distracted. Then there is always the risk of people simply clicking through the material without paying any attention.


E-learning can give people the flexibility to learn, at a time which is convenient to them

However this can often mean, lone out-of-hours working, as to not interrupt their work schedules. Some people don’t thrive under these conditions. Personal contact with educators or trainers giving advice and feedback and constructive criticism helps them learn effectively. It also ignores the social aspect of learning, getting a group of colleagues together in a room from different departments and levels to bounce ideas off each other results in increased awareness and understanding of each other as well as help to improve staff morale.

By definition e-learning requires learners to access courses using some sort of technology. Articulate released some figures of what most annoys learners about e-learning which includes;

  • 18% get frustrated when they can’t take courses on their device of choice
  • 37% hate when the pace is too fast or too slow
  • 76% find lists of procedures and regulations tedious
  • 20% get frustrated by the technology
  • 12% can’t personally relate to courses
  • 38% say they get bored with courses

It is clear that this inherent freedom can translate to just another item on an ever-growing ‘to-do list.’ The fact is that people find it much easier to internalise new skills and knowledge through active training sessions with other people, than through an impersonalised e-learning module.

For an e-learning package to be effective, it must be able to satisfy company objectives and a competent team must be able to implement it and manage support. Furthermore, creating an online courses requires knowledge, time, experience, talent, commitment and a great deal of communication skills. The overwhelming disadvantages and limitations of e-learning hinders companies moving forward in a well-trained and experienced workforce and these factors should be carefully considered when developing any training plan for a business.

An increasing number of organizations are now replacing e-learning with another type of e-learning, experiential learning. It has been proven that learning by doing has the highest knowledge retention rates of all learning styles. It also effectively allows people to interact with each other, break down silos and increase motivation and morale. Talent LMS found that 79% of people said that they would be more productive and motivated if their learning environment was more like a game. That’s why G2G3 are entirely focused on people and making change happen using the worlds best simulation and communication experiences.

*Bersen & Associates. *Babson Survey Research Group

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