The Marriage of Technology and Learning

elearningAs human resource and development experts, we recognize the value of technology in meeting our workforce needs. As a tool, it enhances the flexibility, interactivity, customization, and accessibility to key information and content. It grants us data necessary to assess our success and enhance our value proposition. Moreover, technology grants us the ability to move from being a transactional to a strategic resource by allowing us to redeploy our expertise and resources.
Without a doubt, organizational learning programs continue to gain in efficiency and effectiveness as traditional processes evolve into more automated ones. Not only has learning technology enabled us to reach employees in a more convenient and cost effective manner, but also technology permits us to customize content to meet the needs of individual learners. In our current environment of increasing competition, successful organizations must possess the ability to deploy critical knowledge to employees on a short time frame in different sites and on different schedules while managing costs.

Recent research indicates that e-learning will shortly surpass instructor-led training as the most often utilized method of employee education (Chief Learning Officer, Learning Technology Report 2014). While most organizations still offer instructor-led training, the majority continue to grow their e-learning offerings each year. In addition, among the more than 75 percent of organizations that currently utilize e-learning tools, almost a third of organizations plan to invest in new learning systems in the coming year (docebo.com).

Clearly, the marriage of technology and learning continues to flourish.

For those of us involved in insuring the success of learners, what do we need to know about the trends in technology-enabled learning?

Cost Savings: Cost savings remain the primary business driver for change from instructor-based to e-learning. Estimates place delivering the content (instructor time, travel, materials) at 85 percent of every dollar spent on classroom training. Average cost savings by transition to e-learning ranges between 50 and 70 percent (IBM). Similarly, HCS estimates that e-learning reduces instruction time by as much as 60 percent, thus reducing the participant opportunity cost. E-learning provide courses in shorter sessions and across different days reducing the need for an employee to miss an entire day or work and remain in the office.

Impact on Productivity: IBM estimates that organizations that utilize e-learning tools and strategies have the potential to boost productivity by up to 50%. In other words, for every dollar that a company spends on e-learning, productivity increases by up to $30.

Competitive Advantage: According to 2011 Towards Maturity Benchmark Survey, 72 percent of the 600 companies surveyed indicated that e-learning and mobile learning helped their business adapt more quickly to change and be more competitive. Another way that e-learning helps improve the competitive advantage of an organization is by retaining its key team members. According to the National Research Business Institute, 23 percent of employees leave for lack of development opportunities and training. In those organizations adopting an e-learning approach, satisfaction with access to training goes up by more than 25 percent (HCS, 2013).

Convergence of Access and Mobility: Mobile learning offerings appear in the arsenals of more than 25 percent of organizations (Learning Technology Report, 2014). This trend coincides with the reduction of desktop-based computing and more mobility. According to IDC, the number of PCs will fall from 28.7 percent of the device market in 2013 to 13 percent in 2017. Tablets will increase from 11.8 percent in 2013 to 16.5 percent by 2017, and smartphones will increase from 59.5 percent to 70.5 percent. The next step in the migration of delivery will be to individual devices.

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