Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Perceived Advantages and Disadvantages

Yesterday, I presented an overview of e-learning for an audience of classroom trainers and training managers. Among the many things I covered, I included an exercise where they identified advantages and disadvantages of e-learning. I thought I would share the results. Keep in mind, these are classroom trainers that are open to e-learning and the use of technology in training, but they are not the choir. I found this exercise enlightening on how trainers outside of the online training realm perceive e-learning and where our strengths and weaknesses lay. Below are the lists just how they were recorded on the poster-boards. FYI: Some of the disadvantages or "challenges" can be minimized in e-learning and I did address this. Either way they are on the disadvantages list like it or not.

Advantages of e-Learning

  • Lower costs - travel and expenses, expense of training rooms

  • Environmentally friendly, green

  • Fewer designers/facilitators

  • Anytime/anywhere

  • Can take repeatedly

  • Consistent

  • Reaches larger audience

  • Relatively easy to update

  • "Trackable"

  • Can customize vendor’s online courses

  • A trend with younger generation – "They like to learn that way"

  • Self-paced, self directed

  • "Just in Time" training

  • May be an easier medium for ESL (English as a second language)

Disadvantages of e-Learning

  • Not for all learners

  • Not for all types of content

  • Development time/cost

  • Need an LMS to implement

  • Out-of-date content (if not reviewed regularly)

  • Not for computer illiterate

  • Self-directed – not always good (e.g. skip content)

  • Fraud (e.g. other people taking a test for another employee)

  • Technology differences of end-users’ computers

  • Not cost effective for small audiences

  • Less interactive/social than classroom training

  • No face-to-face social interaction

Those are the perceptions, good or bad, of e-learning in my part of the world, much of which I am in agreement. But if I was to conduct this exercise again I would title the poster boards "Advantages" and "Challenges." Or would that reveal my bias?


  1. Thanks for posting these results Jeff!

    It's very interesting to see what the eLearning hurdles are for those who are familiar with the technology. So, I guess now it is about knocking each 'disadvantage' (or challenge as you say) on the head, one by one.

    LMS developers are already working on making their platforms more interactive and social by incorporating more social networking type features. Computer illiteracy figures are only getting lower, Gen Y who are all about technology are storming through the employment ranks and and it won't be long before they are the majority of the workforce. Plus, hosted LMS' are bringing costs right down to a model based on usage.

    So I would definitely agree with you that it is more about overcoming 'Challenges', than this being a list of eLearning 'Disadvantages'. I view it as the trainers wish list, so we LMS providers should take heed!

    Nicole Fougere

  2. I've been thinking about the 'Challenges' the trainers brought up so much that I decided to write a blog post to debunk them! If you're interested, it's here:

    "12 Perceived Challenges of Online Training Debunked"


  3. Nicole,

    Thank you for addressing these challenges in your post and for referencing my blog. I just added a comment to your post. http://blog.litmos.com/2009/03/12-perceived-challenges-of-online.html


  4. [...] by shanemurphy on Monday, March 30, 2009 Interesting post over on MinuteBio regarding some of the perceived advantages and disadvantages of e-Learning. Some really good stuff [...]

  5. Great post... you really got me thinking about training in general. As with any mode of learning — be it classroom-based or a conventional Computer-based Training — at the end of the day, the value of any mode of training falls right at the feet of the learner. And as a company, isn’t it in our best interest to give them options? I threw a few thoughts on this over on my blog as well - http://shanemurphy.wordpress.com/2009/03/30/e-learning-its-one-of-many-options-not-the-only-option/

  6. I think classroom training is best when student interaction is an important part of the learning process, as in sales training. For other types of training elearning seems to fit the bill very well. Interesting results though.


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