I read (most) of this article from Learning Solutions Magazine about eLearning ROI. Finding show that in-person facilitator-led trainings produce better results, as you may have guessed. The big advantages to stand-alone online trainings are less cost and on-demand access; these may also be their disadvantages, as the article, as I read it, points out.
The article has five reasons why in-person trainings work better, and two of them stand out to me:
- personal bonding with the trainer
“In facilitator-led learning, a personal bond is often developed with the facilitator and with other participants. This commitment to achieve results, beyond the classroom, is often an important part of the program and the learners are more likely to apply the content.”
- more buy-in from trainee
“Because technology-based learning is convenient and sometimes optional, learners do not always take it seriously from a learning perspective.”
There is nothing as powerful as the relationship that can form from in-person experiences, so I’m not surprised that, at least with a successful trainer, the outcomes are better. If we can transfer this to eLearning through videos that help an audience connect at a personal level with the trainer, or better yet, live audio/visual or chat support, the result may improve.
The interesting part is the buy-in. Trainees in an organization may not put up actual money to participate in professional growth, but if it requires taking time and space from their busy days and running logistics to get to an in-person experience, that is a kind of buy-in. ELearning that comes in plentiful quantities and is available anytime can have a numbing effect on motivation: easy access often means never accessed. The less that’s required of the learner, the less that’s given. ELearning can also be terribly boring, but I suppose that’s true F2F as well.
It really doesn’t take much psychological chops to figure this out, but creating the sweet spot where there is just enough carrot and stick to get learners moving in the right direction is very challenging.