For decades, eLearning has been viewed as “supplemental.” In harsher terms, it’s been labeled “second-rate” to traditional, in-person instruction, and an ineffective transition to eLearning over the past several months has caused many to perpetuate this viewpoint.
The abrupt transition of largely unprepared schools and businesses to eLearning has led to much discussion about how eLearning has fallen short of expectations, and, while most experts agree that our “new normal” isn’t going to go backward, few have focused on the big-picture benefits of properly implemented eLearning over in-person instruction.
First, let’s level the playing field. Both eLearning and traditional instruction offer a range of outcomes all the way from “very poor” to “life-altering.” One isn’t inherently better than the other, and, while there are a lot of boring, unengaging online courses in today’s schools and businesses, there are also a lot of boring, unengaging in-person trainings and lectures.
With that in mind, let’s look at where eLearning can excel.
One of the biggest benefits of eLearning is its scalability. The greatest trainer or instructor can only speak to a finite number of learners at any given time. Think back to a teacher who really made a difference in your life. Now, think about all of the students inside and outside your school who didn’t get the chance to learn from that teacher.
Worse yet, think back to all of the teachers who were not memorable or were even dreaded for their lack of expertise or engagement with the material.
Further, even the best teachers don’t deliver a stellar performance in every single live session. Through eLearning, the best teachers and instructors in the world can reach learners like never before and edit their instruction to perfection to achieve even higher levels of engagement and retention.
There will always be a critical role for traditional, in-person instruction. Nothing can replace the value of learning alongside your peers and connecting face-to-face with a great instructor.
However, we must also realize that future of eLearning is bright, and that future is happening now. If we can combine the best of eLearning and the best of traditional instruction, we just might enter the golden age of education.