Convince Clients That eLearning is the Right Choice
I will be the first to admit that eLearning is not the right choice for all clients, nor is it appropriate for all learning situations. But it's a lot more versatile than some clients think.
In this article, I'll explore some common objections to eLearning and explain not only how to answer them but how to convince clients that eLearning is the right choice for them.
The Objections and How to Answer Them
1. Trainers will lose their jobs if we bring in eLearning.
Yes, it's true that the client's reliance on trainers will be reduced. But, they will still need people to oversee training programs, develop new courses and update current ones.
For organizations where competency-based training is an integral part of their workplace learning, trainers will always be needed to perform skills demonstrations and administer practical assessments. Blended learning is also an option for clients who feel the need for some facilitated learning.
2. We tried eLearning once and it didn't work for us.
There are organizations for whom eLearning just didn't work. But, that may have been quite a few years ago. and things have changed a lot even in just the past five years. Advances in instructional design content delivery are catering to the needs of the modern learner, and so should employers.
The best way to overcome this objection to eLearning is to give the prospective client a demo. Show them what today's learning management systems can do and what eLearning looks like now. Keep your demo short, but make it powerful, easy to use and packed with features.
You may want to create an eLearning course focused on compliance training, or something as simple as a Jeopardy-style game on 10 geography questions. If your demo is done in a fun, memorable way, everyone in the organization will want to see more of what you can do.
3. Our training is not compatible with online learning.
There are few if any lines of business where eLearning could not be used for training. The client could argue that you can't teach a person to operate a backhoe through an online course. But, you could teach learners safety procedures, loads and limitations and introduce them to the controls of the machine using eLearning. An instructor would still have to teach and coach the actual operation of the machine. This is called blended learning.
Blended learning is not a new concept. The Training Study Report (2016) found that almost a quarter of all training was delivered through blended learning. For training that requires practical, hands-on learning, blended learning provides an excellent link between theory and practice.
4. Learners need in-person interaction to learn.
It is true that eLearning involves a person using a computer or other device to access the learning. But, that does not mean that learners have to learn alone. Social learning allows learners to share their learning experiences, talk about how they use what they've learned and share additional resources via forums, bulletin boards and social media. When your LMS is capable of supporting social learning, instruction can happen through podcasts and webinars.
eLearners have the capability of interacting and learning with each other without having to be inside the same room.
5. Most people find eLearning boring.
30 or more years ago, when eLearning was in its infancy, it was called Computer-based Learning (CBT) and it was boring. It was text and graphics. If you were lucky, there was narration. If you were really lucky, there were scenarios you could listen to as you looked at a series of photos or cartoons called "animatics". The courses were delivered on CDs because there was no Internet as we know it now and you had to complete each disc at one sitting.
eLearning has come a long way since then and is anything but boring if done with some creativity and using the tools we as eLearning developers have at our disposal. Learner engagement can be enhanced through the use of appropriate graphics or video. Learning can be gamified, adding entertaining activities to the learning and a bit of friendly competition with other learners. You can inject a bit of humour into the content to spice things up. Use microlearning to parcel out learning in short, easy to digest chunks and avoid having learners sit and stare at a screen for hours. Modern eLearning, in other words, is far from boring.
6. eLearning costs too much.
The cost of eLearning may be the toughest objection that you'll have to face. But eLearning is cost-effective, and you can prove it when you point out that:
- Content can be easily updated and/or rebranded: A good LMS will support content authoring and customization of content and allow it to be easily done. Compare that to making changes to user manuals, facilitator guides and PowerPoints.
- There are no classroom fees: Compare the costs associated with facilitated learning to what your eLearning course costs you. You won't have to rent conference rooms, pay facilitators, pay travel expenses (facilitator and learners), buy refreshments or pay for meals. Lost productivity due to employees attending training sessions will also be reduced. If your client is a large corporation with hundreds of employees in multiple locations, eLearning will save them a lot.
Change of any sort always meets with some opposition. That certainly is true when you are trying to sell a client on adopting eLearning. But, that opposition can be overcome if you know your stuff.
I've covered a few common concerns that I've heard clients express and I'm sure you have a few that you can add to the list. And while there will be a few clients that will not get on the eLearning bus, you can provide a convincing argument why most should if you just show them how powerful, convenient and cost-effective eLearning can be.
Sarah is an Instructional Designer at BaseCorp Learning Systems and is currently completing a PhD in Educational Technology. Her research focuses on implementing competency-based learning systems in all types of organizations. When she doesn't have her nose in a book you can find her at the gym, on the ice, on the ski hill, drinking wine or in a coffee shop … with her nose in a book.