Self-paced e-learning has largely failed to keep up with current learning needs
Learning Management Systems or LMS for short have been around for many years, bridging the gap between technology and education for schools and even workplaces. For a while, self-paced e-learning seemed to be the answer: learners could log on any time, complete assignments at any pace they felt comfortable with – as long as they get it done within the set time frame. In workplaces, they helped cut down downtime in work productivity as employees could complete these online assignments or learning modules outside of their work time. This all sounded good in theory but over years self-paced e-learning has fell out of favour, and the LMS industry is predicted to shrink from 46.6 Billion USD to 33.4 Billion USD in 2021 due to a lack in innovation.
Traditional e-learning has become less effective because it has minimized learning and education into a destination, an end goal, instead of what it is supposed to be – a journey. Reflection and perseverance over time are key in encouraging behavioural and attitude change, and having a certified mentor or trainer to guide one towards that is pivotal. These are some demands of soft skills training that self-paced e-learning do not adequately fulfill.
However, it is worth noting that self-paced learning still has its strengths when delivering permanent content such as standards, procedures or compliance for companies. The nature of these courses is content-based and do not require a live facilitator to ensure that learning takes place. For these type of courses, allowing participants to schedule their own time and pace to complete them may be more beneficial.
Live Online format brings collaboration and interactivity to e-learning
Enter a new modern take on e-learning, namely the Live Online format. The Live Online e-learning format redefines learning as a process by leveraging on modern technological advancements to include interactivity in its teaching methodology. As the name suggests, this format is taught live and moderated by a trainer. Instead of a mechanical algorithm which decides your passing grade in a traditional e-learning scenario, your learning is assessed live on the go by another human keeping you engaged and curious about your own self-development.
Compared to the traditional mode of self-paced e-learning, the Live Online format is equipped with features such as personal pointers, hand-raising and emoticons. A typical learning environment in a live online format is small, inclusive and extremely interactive. Participants are encouraged to share, learn from others and follow up on discussions. Virtual breakout rooms mimics in-person discussions between smaller groups, allowing more insightful and meaningful exchange of information. Tools such as the open whiteboard encourages participants to share their opinions and thoughts which can turn into a collective debate. The Live Online format is ideal for training soft skills which includes management, communications and leadership. Due to their subjective nature., these subjects depend a lot on co-learning from one another that traditional e-learning platforms cannot provide.
On the flipside, Live Online training may bring about a scheduling dilemma. As this format needs everyone to schedule and set aside time, this may be logistically difficult for a large group of people. Also, if someone is to miss a live online training class, the rescheduling process can prove to be costly.
Taking a balanced approach to e-learning
As live online training and self-paced e-learning can help achieve different objectives, both should be included in an organisation’s learning and development portfolio. In most cases, the ideal solution is to utilize both self-paced and live online training concurrently depending on the nature of the courses. This allows an organization to enjoy the best of both worlds and reap the benefits of both e-learning modes. As a rule of thumb, permanent company-wide knowledge-based assessments should be done via self-paced e-learning. On the other hand, when it comes to assessments where objectives relate to skills development such as a leadership course, a Live Online format which allows for on-the-spot feedback may be better suited.