eLearning vs Face to face | Which do learners prefer?

Which do learners prefer?
Which do learners prefer?

As far as learning is concerned, pragmatism rules when it comes to criteria.

Certainly, it’s equally true that learners in general still have a nuanced point of view regarding learning tools. They do not automatically contrast e-learning with face-to-face options. This is mainly influenced by the quality of content as well as the level of interaction.

Learner profiles that are more autonomous and motivated to learn tend to gravitate more towards digital learning. They are able to manage and even maximize their digital learning experiences better than they would in a classroom setting. But old habits die hard. Many learners, including 70% of our respondents, still consider classic face-to-face learning as an effective format.

Face-to-face learning encourages:

  • Dialogue – which stimulates learning

  • Human contact – which promotes cohesion

  • Involvement – which means sharing experiences and comparing yourself with others

  • Appreciation – training is offered to help the learner and paid for by the employer.

Despite the benefits, this type of training can be more complex to set up: the logistics must be anticipated and arranged and can end up being quite time-consuming. More importantly is the question of quality control; the person teaching the course can directly impact learning results by their level of expertise and how well they communicate their knowledge to the learners.

On the other hand, e-learning still seems to suffer from a generally negative preconception.

This is even more pronounced among learner profiles who already feel overloaded by a high volume of learning options, whether compulsory or optional. This is particularly true in Anglo-Saxon countries like the United Kingdom and the USA, where practices are more developed.

Reservations, if any, relate primarily to:

  • A feeling of isolation, triggered by being alone in front of a screen and without outside stimulation, which can be de-motivating

  • Lack of interaction, which often makes it difficult or even impossible to ask questions or share with a community of other learners

  • Boredom stemming from repetitive exercises that are seldom creative or diverse

  • Lack of follow-up after training to reinforce what was learned and measure progress.

“At first, I found it quite exciting. But it became more and more boring. I was also distracted by incoming calls…” F., 42, Non-Manager, Germany

Digital Learning can reinforce face-to-face training for a truly blended approach.

Nevertheless, the profound benefits of e-learning are well-recognized and have become increasingly relevant to current skill needs. Far from being seen as a replacement, digital learning is emerging as a principal way to acquire skills because it has unique advantages in today’s work environments:

  • Autonomy and flexibility, which are particularly appreciated by managers, with the ability to manage your progress at your own pace, and freedom to learn whenever and wherever, according to your preferences

  • The opportunity to revisit what you have learned to review, memorize, reinforce, and even go back over certain parts of the training that were not well understood

  • Agility via short formats, because a well-targeted 5-minute boost is sometimes enough to acquire an additional skill effectively

  • Simplicity of learning, thanks to focused course introductions, summaries, and a clear step-by-step explanation of what to expect

  • Diversity of formats, providing stimulation in more modern, diversified formats, such as quizzes, films, podcasts…

“What I like about the e-Learning sessions is being able to choose when I log on, the autonomy and the monitoring of my progress, and being able to do them at my own pace.” F., 48, Manager, France

The dynamic and responsive aspects of Digital Learning are seen as a big plus.

In addition to the many practical advantages inherent in e-learning, it can be customized to the learner’s individual skill level or to address a specific need. Another benefit is the possibility and even encouragement towards interaction, not only within the course context but via peer exchange networks.

Without excluding face-to-face learning approaches, the addition of digital learning to an L&D strategy can be beneficial because it supports learner autonomy, individualism and personalization. It is also reactive to the ever-changing needs of learners who are eager to strengthen their skills, effectiveness and agility in an increasingly unpredictable and competitive professional environment.

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