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Do You Need E‑Learning?


Fri Jun 05 2015

Do You Need E‑Learning?

“E-Learning is hot right now!”

“Think of how much money we’ll save!”


“My CEO says we have to use e-learning.” 

If you are going to embark on an e-learning journey, be sure you are doing it for the right reasons. Jumping in without understanding why you should (or shouldn’t) convert your training to self-paced online courses can mean making short-sighted decisions that your organization could regret later.  

When deciding whether or not e-learning is a good fit, you need to consider instructional design, audience needs and preferences, technology, and business constraints such as time and cost. You can use this simple quiz to see if e-learning might be a good fit for what you are trying to accomplish. 





Do you have a geographically dispersed workforce?




Does your audience work in different time zones or on different shifts?




Do you have to train on a subject frequently?




Do you have people with low productivity or high error rates because they have to wait for the next training class to be offered?




Do you have a large number of people to train?




Do you have mandated training?




Do you need to reach a lot of people very quickly (such as product knowledge for a new launch or a new legal requirement)?




Do you need to train on complex information?




Would it be useful for people to be able to go back and study a section again?




Do you have a wide variety of preexisting knowledge on a subject (some are learners are experienced, some are novices, and some in the middle)?




Do different portions of your audience need slightly different information?




Would you like people to be able to test out?




Would your information benefit from video or animation (such as a moving diagram of how a manufacturing process works)?




Would you like to provide the same level of training in less time?




When you are done, there aren’t any points to add up to give you a “magic” score to tell you yes or no. Instead, look at all of your “yes” items and determine what you will gain (tangibles and intangibles) if you go with e-learning. It might take just one “yes” to be worth it—if it is a big enough “yes.” Be sure to weigh the downsides also. What are the downsides in the areas of instructional design, audience needs and preferences, technology, and business constraints.

In the end, e-learning might be a good fit and it might not. Regardless, your initiative will be more successful if you clearly understand the reasons why.



Editor’s note:** Learn more from Diane Elkins’ new book E-Learning Fundamentals: A Practical Guide (ATD Press, 2015). Elkins and co-author Desirée Pinder deliver a comprehensive examination of the e-learning process from the ground up. Download this checklist from in an editable format.

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