The Cost Benefits of eLearning versus Classroom Training
Learning and Development budgets are being stretched more than ever. With increasing pressure to find more efficient ways to deliver up-to-date training to a newly remote workforce, Managers are choosing to convert instructor-led, classroom training to eLearning, in a bid to save time and money. This article examines the potential cost benefits of eLearning compared to instructor-led alternatives.
The biggest cost of any learning programme is often not recognised - the time the Learner spends in training, away from their ‘real’ job. eLearning can make a big difference here. Time is compressed in eLearning, as you don’t have all the logistics that come with classroom training.
Because eLearning is so much shorter than classroom training, you can save a significant sum when it comes to opportunity costs. A well-designed eLearning course will comprise of 10 to 15 minute sessions, enabling learners to plan training around their working day. Induction times will be quicker and downtime amongst your staff will decrease to a minimum.
eLearning has evolved into a remarkably efficient and sophisticated form of training delivery, offering many benefits not feasible in the classroom. As eLearning is accessed online it can be available right when the learner needs it and used to improve their performance on-the-job, providing a Just in Time approach to learning.
By developing responsive eLearning content that is accessible from any device, your workforce can learn remotely, perhaps beginning a course at their desk and completing it from their mobile phone on the train.
A Brandon Hall Group survey from 2017 reported that virtual learning can reduce employee training time by 40-60% and boost knowledge retention by 25-60%.
An obvious point to make, but with eLearning your learners (and indeed your Trainers) don’t have to leave their desks, so you’re instantly eradicating your travel and venue costs and the cost benefits of eLearning are easy to see.
With eLearning there’s no marginal cost of delivery so rolling out eLearning to 100 or 10,000 learners costs the same. That’s because you don’t need:
- Printed Manuals
Economies of Scale
You don’t have to be training more than 1,000 learners before you see the cost benefits of eLearning and the project becomes viable. The cost per hour for eLearning content development can be dramatically reduced by using a rapid authoring tool with pre-built templates and taking on some tasks in-house.
Existing classroom content such as PowerPoint slides could be converted to eLearning or used as a storyboard for Instructional Designers. In-house Classroom Instructors could be reskilled as Instructional Designers and eLearning Facilitators.
This means that even specialised courses with small learner groups can benefit from eLearning and, from a cost perspective, still be more cost effective than a classroom alternative.
Calculating Return on Investment
Calculating a precise ROI for training is often an impossible task. However, with the benchmarking processes involved in eLearning, it is considerably easier to calculate your eLearning ROI compared with classroom training. If you include pre- and post-course knowledge checks, you can not only monitor access to the content but also learner understanding and measure this against your investment.
Perform you own cost comparison to see how much your organisation could save by converting classroom training to eLearning.
- Construct a side-by-side analysis of the cost of delivering one hour of eLearning versus an instructor-led session.
- Prepare a simple spreadsheet showing all your current training costs per hour, then scale it up to the size of your target audience.
- Compare your costs to the upfront development costs for eLearning. Even allowing for a small maintenance cost, the business case for eLearning is almost always going to win out.
Ernst & Young reduced training costs by 35% while improving consistency and scalability. 2,900 hours of classroom training was condensed into 700 hours of web-based learning, 200 hours of distance learning and 500 hours of classroom instruction: an overall reduction of 52% (Brandon Hall, 2000)
Regardless of the cost benefits of eLearning, there’s no point in replacing your classroom training if the eLearning isn’t effective and engaging. You also need to consider it on a case by case basis; depending on the course objectives and curriculum - in some cases classroom training is still going to be the more effective medium. Pilot your eLearning before you roll it out across your business. Compare results between a course delivered in the classroom and via eLearning.
If eLearning is to be successful, it needs to be embraced at every level – from Management down to the workforce. It is important to communicate the benefits of the training programme with clear and consistent messaging.
Support depends on the quality of the eLearning. If the content is smart, relevant and informative, it will engage the learners. Your workforce needs to be motivated to learn by understanding what they will gain and offering incentives. Engaging learners during a training programme through gamification elements such as league tables and rewards will ensure that it earns the maximum ROI.
As a tool for improving the efficiency and ROI of training programmes, eLearning offers unparalleled results, reducing the cost of delivery whilst increasing efficiencies. Adopting an eLearning approach to your training strategy delivers benefits in three major areas:
- Accelerating time to delivery
- Overcoming logistical barriers
- Improving Learner Retention
Evaluating these three benefits and applying monetary terms to them is key to establishing your return on investment.
An eLearning solution can also improve the impact of training, by ensuring that your workforce is engaged. Pre and post testing not only enable you to track and measure learner performance as well as the effectiveness of the training, it also offers learners the opportunity to practise, improving their retention levels. Integration of social learning and gamification offers further opportunity for increasing engagement using eLearning.