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everything about elearning


What is eLearning?

eLearning employs technology to facilitate, enhance and expand educational content, access, and tracking (the “e” stands for electronic). Originally developed as a computer-based content delivery system for schools, eLearning is now embraced by all types of organizations, from large businesses to start-ups, government, non-profits, and trade associations. The top industries using eLearning include Healthcare, Technology, Retail and eCommerce, Education, and Construction.

Today, eLearning means much more than just delivering information. Available on a variety of digital devices, from desktop computers to smart phones and other handheld devices, eLearning is interactive, which significantly increases the amount of information people can learn and retain.

What qualifies as eLearning?

eLearning happens in a variety of ways, and a variety of terms are associated with it. Here is a brief glossary of definitions and examples:

  • Blended Learning or Hybrid Learning is delivering learning content in variety of settings and styles over an extended period of time to ensure proficiency. Blended learning can include a combination of face-to-face, online learning, self-study, and on-the-job training.
  • Computer-Based Training (CBT) or Web-Based Training (WBT) is training delivered on a computer or on the internet.
  • Digital Delivery is education distributed on a digital device in any setting, such as classrooms, conference rooms, manufacturing facilities, at a desk, or at home.
  • Distance Learning or Remote Learning means that classes are held online to accommodate learners who are separated from the information source or instructor.
  • Flipped Classroom reverses the traditional learning environment by sharing learning material outside of the class, and moving active work (once considered homework) to in-class time spent with the instructors and classmates. Flipped Classroom eLearning is when the “classroom” is virtual and/or digital devices are used for content and activities.
  • Gamification is training that employs game thinking and game-based tools, such as interactive quizzes.
  • Interactive eLearning requires dynamic engagement and interchange with learners to motivate critical thinking, problem solving, and memory retention.
  • Instructor-Led Training (ILT) is delivered by instructors, either in-person or in virtual classrooms. In-person training is considered eLearning if a digital device is used.
  • Learning Management Systems (LMS) are software applications used to create, deliver, and track training programs. Top LMS providers include: Captivate, TalentLMS, Docebo, Looop, iSpring Learn, Litmos (SAP), Thought Industries, 360 Learning, Coassemble, and Asentia.
  • Microlearning is training delivered in short bursts over time. Also known as bite-sized learning, microlearning has dramatically increased in recent years, especially with younger generations who have shorter attention spans.
  • Online Learning refers to courses delivered online.
  • Simulations are training scenarios that use role-playing to deepen the learner’s experience and memory through practice. Simulations also provide assessment opportunities for the learners and for management. In eLearning, simulations encompass virtual activities, online scripts, and interactive role-playing.
  • Video and animation are vital, integral pieces for eLearning and Development because 65% of the population are visual learners.
  • Webinars are live or recorded seminars, presentations, or workshops conducted over the internet.

Why use eLearning? What are the benefits?

eLearning has expanded rapidly because it is flexible, fast and delivers exceptional results.

Here are a few benefits:

1. eLearning improves ease and flexibility for users and content creators.

Content can be delivered to teams and individuals on-demand to their preferred devices, anytime, anywhere. The more self-paced, interactive access increases proficiency and allows learners to revisit information, re-take tests, and track their progress.

For content creators, subject matter experts and managers, eLearning means that curriculum can be easily updated, from tweaking verbiage to adding new information and visuals. This means your courses stay current!

2. eLearning speeds up productivity.

eLearning uses 40% to 60% less employee time compared to Instructor-Led Training, which often takes people away from their jobs for hours or days and can require travel costs.

3. People learn and retain more information through eLearning.

Memory retention dramatically improves with eLearning due to its ease of use, visual nature, and interactive experience. Plus, studies show that eLearning participants learn up to five times more material than traditional instruction, without increasing the time spent in training.

4. Tracking, analytics and dashboards ensures your organization meets your goals.

eLearning provides valuable metrics that management can use to test and improve training effectiveness. Also, eLearners and their managers can track individual progress and performance, which improves compliance.

What are good subjects for eLearning?

Nearly any subject is appropriate for eLearning, including:

  • Leadership and Management Development
  • Change Management and Change Readiness
  • Communications
  • Customer Service
  • Cybersecurity
  • Ethics and Anti-Harassment Training
  • Evaluations and Assessments
  • Orientation and Onboarding
  • Product and Services Training
  • Psychographic Profiles
  • Safety and Compliance
  • Skills Development, including Soft Skills

Why customize eLearning? Why not buy eLearning off-the-shelf?

The up-front cost of off-the-shelf eLearning programs may seem attractive, but often costs more in the long run. Customizing eLearning brings several valuable benefits that improve overall effectiveness:

  • Personalization enables you to focus on the specific subjects and skills, and not waste time on off-the-shelf topics that aren’t relevant for your audience. This has the added benefit of reducing overall training time. 
  • Developing custom video and other visuals improves learning proficiency by increasing engagement, knowledge retention, and recall.
  • Adding real-life scenarios to eLearning builds trust and credibility, prompting the learner to take the training more seriously. Realistic scenarios and simulations deepen the learner’s understanding of how to put the training into practice. 
  • Customization allows you to integrate and reinforce your brand standards and values.

How do I scope an eLearning project?

To appropriately scope an eLearning project, you need to answer several questions:

21 Essential Questions Mockup

Scoping Your Project

How do I design eLearning?

Building eLearning isn’t easy. To be done well, eLearning requires an exceptional array of skills and tools, which is why many companies hire specialty agencies or consultants to assist in building their eLearning programs.

Here are a few of the assets needed to successfully design eLearning programs:

  • Instructional Design Expertise (i.e. Learning Models, Group Dynamics)
  • Experience in eLearning Technology
  • Knowledge of User Experience
  • Project Management Capabilities
  • Visual and Creative Talents (Storyboarding, Video and/or Animation)
  • Assessment Development Ability
  • Exceptional Communication Skills

What are eLearning best practices?

Here are six best practices for eLearning:

  1. Set clear goals and develop great, relevant content.
  2. Ensure your program has solid instructional design and flow.
  3. Develop compelling, memorable visuals (video or animation).
  4. Deploy on an attractive, user-friendly interface.
  5. Integrate plenty of interaction and microlearning.
  6. Create a useful assessment.

Where Do I Put eLearning After It Is Created?

If you have a series of Learning and Development programs, consider developing, delivering, and tracking those courses on a Learning Management System (LMS), accessible through a high-profile spot on your intranet.

To make sure people can easily find the courses they want and to promote an environment of continuous learning, place links to your LMS from relevant areas. For example, HR should have links to Orientation and OnBoarding eLearning programs.

What Is The ROI Of eLearning?

eLearning can be very cost effective compared to face-to-face programs, despite the seemingly higher initial investment. An eLearning program means you no longer have to rely on and pay for travel, real-world training locations, on-site facilitation, and printing training materials.

Plus, with eLearning, your people spend less time in training and more time at work. They learn more material faster, and the information has better staying power, which means less re-training. You can easily update information. And you have automatic and accurate monitoring and reporting tools.

A simple ROI formula is determined by the investment made (or cost incurred) over the value returned. In other words:

ROI = Gains/Costs

To determine the Costs, consider:

  • Development of the eLearning course, including contributions by team members and subject matter experts
  • LMS and/or infrastructure costs
  • Administrative costs

To determine the Gains, consider:

  • Less disruptive delivery (the person-hours gained by not having learners and trainers leave their workplace for Instructor-Led Training)
  • Reduced travel and administration costs
  • No associated costs for trainers
  • Increased productivity because more people can be trained in less time
  • Increased productivity because people are learning faster and better
  • Less time spent on re-training, tracking, progress reports, and follow-ups

In addition to the above simple ROI formula, consider Kirkpatrick’s model of evaluation:

Level 1: Reaction is measured by getting feedback from learners.

Level 2: Learning is measured through course assessments.

Level 3: Behavioral changes can be measured through improvements in efficiency, manager feedback, or compliance monitoring results.

Level 4: Business impact is measured through productivity gains and quality measures.

Frequently Asked Questions

We've found that generally, SMEs can be grouped into seven categories, or archetypes. Each type can be recognized by certain characteristics, though a few overlapping traits are shared between some.  To learn more about each archetype, click HERE.

To learn how to build a solid working relationship with your subject matter experts, click HERE.

Or, do you have one SME that thinks every bit of information they know should be included in your training? Click HERE to learn how to manage.

Want to give your SME some guidance on how to work with an instructional designer or developer? Click HERE.

When we scope eLearning projects, we use three main levers as a guide. Click HERE to learn how these levers and other factors contribute to overall cost.


Ensuring quality in your eLearning is about more than using a checklist. Click HERE to learn how quality works in eLearning.

Custom eLearning development requires smooth collaboration between you and your design team. Click HERE for our Guide to the eLearning Review Process.

eLearning design begins with a storyboard. What does that mean? And how do you build one? Click HERE to learn more.

We've got one for you! Click HERE to download it.

Click HERE for a list of some of our favorite sites.

User experience design in eLearning should be top of mind when creating eLearning. Click HERE to learn more.

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