eLearning, The Better Deal (part 2)

Posted by Ed Gipple on Apr 20, 2011 12:52:00 PM

Returning to this subject on exactly why eLearning is growing in not only implementation but relevance - there has been a recent surge in studies comparing eLearning to traditional instruction which, overall, help justify the initial expense and commitment to eLearning solutions.

As a nice introductory compilation, Karl Kapp has short PDF here including;

• Reduced Learning Time: “With e-learning, ‘results comparable to those of instructor-led training have been achieved in 40 to 60 percent less time.’”

• Increased Retention Levels: “Studies of major companies comparing technology-based training to classroom instruction show that learning gains were up to 56 percent greater, ‘consistency of learning’ (variance in learning across learners) was 50 to 60 percent better, and ‘content retention’ was 25 to 50 percent higher.”

The report also references discussions on 'Speed of Work' and 'Half-Life of Knowledge'. While pretty much an expanded end-note, and many references are a bit dated by now, it provides an initial foundation for additional studies seeking to explore the benefits of eLearning initiatives.

In 2009, the US Department of Education released a study analysis finding that ‘good teaching can be enhanced with new technology’. While not specific to eLearning only, it does argue for a ‘hybrid’ or ‘blended’ approach to instruction, mixing traditional methods with online learning where appropriate. A few findings from that report;

• Students who took all or part of their class online performed better, on average, than those taking the same course through traditional face-to-face instruction.

• Instruction combining online and face-to-face elements had a larger advantage relative to purely face-to-face instruction than did purely online instruction.

• The effectiveness of online learning approaches appears quite broad across different content and learner types.

• Caution is required in generalizing to the K-12 population because the results are for the most part based on studies in other settings (e.g., medical training, higher education).

The full PDF report is available from the ed.gov website. Generally, the report found that online learning alone is at least as effective as traditional training methods and blended approaches are more effective than conventional instruction.

In a minimalist sense, then, moving to eLearning initiatives doesn’t seem to lose anything…and can at least maintain the current level of training – if not improve upon it – while also potentially providing cost savings, more flexible training schedules, and accessible re-training efforts.

In the third and final part of this series, we’ll showcase a few more studies and resources which additionally support why eLearning is the better deal…