ATD Blog

E-Learning Is on the Rise—How Can Organizations Get the Most Out of It?

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

It should come as no surprise that e-learning use among organizations is steadily increasing. Defined as asynchronous, structured, self-paced learning that is delivered electronically, e-learning is an excellent way to reach employees in all locations, letting them learn at their own pace. E-learning can include pre-recorded lecture content and video, visuals, or text, as well as interactive elements such as knowledge quizzes, simulations, or games.

ATD Research and the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) surveyed 546 talent development leaders across the globe in 2017 to gather findings about the use of e-learning in talent development. These insights were published in the research report Next Generation E-Learning: Skills and Strategies, sponsored by GoAnimate.

E-learning By the Numbers

According to the report, 88 percent of talent development organizations offer e-learning in at least some portion of their learning and development portfolios.

High-performance organizations in particular—defined as organizations that consistently lead the competition in revenue growth, market share, profitability, and customer satisfaction—have seen the most dramatic e-learning increase. The percentage of high-performance organizations who employ e-learning in a majority of their learning assets has tripled, from 8 percent in 2012 to 27 percent in 2017. The report estimates that half of high-performance organizations will make the majority of their learning assets available as e-learning by 2022.


Among lower-performance organizations, e-learning use is also increasing, although not to the same extent. As of 2017, 12 percent of lower-performance organizations offer a majority of their learning portfolio as e-learning, compared with 7 percent five years ago. By 2022, that figure is expected to increase to 34 percent.

Overcoming Barriers to E-learning Implementation

What’s preventing organizations from fully embracing e-learning delivery? As e-learning tools, software, and design needs evolve, talent development professionals’ skills must evolve to keep up with them. And most organizations are not equipped to provide their employees with the training necessary to keep up with these e-learning changes.


ATD Research and i4cp found that the top five areas in which talent development professionals said their staff required new or updated skills were:

  • general e-learning design skills
  • knowledge of available e-learning tools and applications
  • specific design tools or software
  • overall instructional design knowledge or skills
  • audio and video design skills.

But only one in five of these talent development professionals who said training was needed thought their staff’s deficiencies in these areas were fully addressed.
To truly utilize e-learning and take advantage of the benefits this learning delivery method has to offer, organizations must give their learning staff the resources they need to design and deliver e-learning. Some ways to do this include:

  • partnering with suppliers or professional organizations for access to e-learning tools
  • sending employees to conferences or workshops that focus on e-learning design
  • giving staff access to current books, articles, webcasts, and other resources to help them stay up to date on e-learning trends and technologies.

Next Generation E-Learning: Skills and Strategies offers many more key findings, recommendations, examples, and success stories about e-learning use. The full report is available for purchase at

About the Author

Shauna Robinson is a former ATD research analyst. Her responsibilities included preparing surveys, analyzing data, and writing research reports.

Be the first to comment
Sign In to Post a Comment
Sorry! Something went wrong on our end. Please try again later.