Over the weekend, the AFR reported that University of Adelaide is phasing out lectures in favour of online learning. Whilst this decision has surely faced tough opposition, the university’s vice-chancellor maintains that this type of learning is ‘superior’ to more traditional methods, and the proof is in the pudding – retention, and overall satisfaction has increased since the university introduced it.
What is perhaps more interesting, and certainly has ramifications for the corporate sector, was the vice-chancellor’s assessment of traditional lectures. He reminded us of what we essentially all already know, and that is, for instructor-led training: ‘if [the student] doesn’t understand something, it’s in one ear and then it’s gone’ whereas online learning gives us ‘the capacity to replay things when the student sits at home, plus, of course, there’s capacity to go at your own speed.’
So what does this mean for organisations everywhere that still preference ILT over E-learning or mLearning?
ILT – no longer an effective, or sustainable, model
Just like UoA, many organisations are beginning to understand the benefits of online learning, and especially those of mLearning. However, besides ‘this is the way it’s always been,’ does ILT actually offer any distinct advantages over online learning?
The answer is, in reality, not really. Although supporters of ILT claim that the face-to-face training provided in the classroom best caters to all learning styles, recent research has shown that learning styles are actually a myth. What’s more, online learning now has the capacity to emulate classroom style-interactivity through social learning tools. These tools come with the added benefit of enabling shyer learners to interact, who would have otherwise been intimidated in a classroom setting. Furthermore, ILT can be expensive, time-consuming, inconvenient, and can have retention rates as low as 10%. All evidence, therefore, points to only one conclusion – ILT is no longer an effective, or sustainable, model.
Online learning – the way of the future
With ILT no longer being considered effective, many organisations, just like UoA, are turning to online learning, and it is easy to see why. Online learning boosts knowledge retention rates by up to 60%, and also boosts productivity by up to 50%. Online courses are also usually much shorter than ILT courses, providing additional productivity boosts, as well as significantly cheaper – they are up to 90% less expensive when you take into account more training hours (for the trainer and the learner), as well as classroom and materials costs.
Furthermore, online learning, and in particular, mLearning, provide the learner with the ultimate flexibility – they can access learning content, where, and when, it suits them, and they can also interact with other learners, and their teachers, when they so choose. This effectively means that they receive all the interactive benefits that they would in a classroom, but with the added benefit of when and how – something that suits today’s extraordinarily busy and stressed learner.
Therefore, it seems that the University of Adelaide may certainly be onto something, and with good reason – online learning is, in almost every way, superior to traditional ILT. And if a university can successfully transition to online learning, with their tens of thousands of students, hundreds of teachers, and centuries of tradition – then certainly your organisation can too?
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Author: Janine Cahill