Some of the spectacular failures of digital or e-learning has left some of us a little bruised and distrustful in terms of using technology as a way to learn. We would like to also unpack and clarify a few misconceptions or myths with regard to the digital learning landscape. Most of these are based on our own experiences and interactions with a number of companies over the past years. In this article we would unpack the first 3.
Myth #1: Learner outcomes are not as good with digital learning, and it is unsuitable to teach certain skills
Our opinion here is that the problem does not lie with the concept of digital learning, but more the how the learning content is designed. You cannot follow the same design approach for digital learning as you do for a classroom based approach. Learning outcomes can be just as good (if not better) if one applies a proper design methodology and approach. We do agree that learning focused on social skills will not have a 100% similar outcome. (As one person mentioned to us – the AHA moment is just not the same. That magic that is created in the classroom when the self-insight happens – it is just not the same.) This, however, can be easily addressed through a blended learning approach. Our opinion is that what needs to change is how we think about digital learning design and application.
Myth #2: There are no real cost savings by adopting digital learning
The design of digital content (and the computing devices like smart phone and VR readers) is usually expensive and has created a perception that the adoption of digital learning doesn’t really result in cost saving. Here one needs to consider to overall value of digital learning within the organisation. Karla Gutierrez unpacks the value of digital learning as follows:
- Digital learning has faster delivery cycle times than a traditional, classroom-based instruction. It is not limited by the number of available trainers and classrooms.
- Digital learning requires from 40% to 60% less employee time than the same material delivered in a traditional classroom setting. It immediately eliminates direct delivery costs including transportation, accommodation, printing time and distribution. Consequently, it improves employee productivity since it’s considerably quicker than the classroom-based alternative.
- Digital learning is easier, cheaper, and quicker to update and is very suitable to scale quickly.
Myth #3: Digital learning is not effective when used with disadvantaged populations
We have actually found that digital learning can be successfully implemented with a broad range of beneficiaries across ages, geographical regions, backgrounds and socioeconomic conditions. However, some groups would be more successful if they received preparatory initiatives prior to partaking in digital learning. We refer to this as learning on-boarding and digital adoption. We have also seen that this has led to some unintended positive consequences for a company in the Retail space. Digital learning actually enhanced performance and reduced mistakes, shrinkage and rework. People started to up-skill cross-functionally (without anyone managing and controlling the process) resulting in a true culture of learning and performance.