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April 20, 2020


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Benefits of online learning and training for employees

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Online learning and training have become significant enablers that continue to grow in value for both businesses and their employees. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the shift to online education was in motion: one study shows that the number of students taking online courses was growing five percent annually.

This expansion will continue to rise in the coming years, especially as businesses continue to see the positive impact and benefits of online training and learning on their workforce and bottom line.


Online learning and employee education 

For employers or employees who have never taken an online course, let’s start with some quick basics.


What is online learning?

Often referred to as distance learning, eLearning, or online education, online learning allows students the flexibility to learn at their convenience and allows employers to support employee growth. The term online training also falls under this greater category of learning.

While online learning has fewer in-person interactions, it encompasses many of the same benefits of on-campus options plus more, including high-quality education programs and a focus on student success.


Online learning vs virtual training for employees

While often used interchangeably, online learning is slightly different from online (or virtual) training. Online training, also referred to as eTraining or virtual training, is learning that happens for a specific job. For example, if you recently hired a customer support representative, they may receive online training for the responsibilities of that specific job, such as how to use help desk software.

Online learning refers to any educational activity for the workforce. This includes continuous learning programs, cross-functional learning, professional development and more. An example would be a salesperson wanting to expand their knowledge of marketing programs and taking an online marketing course for personal learning.

Online learning is advantageous for employers who are looking to engage their employees, build a resilient workforce, promote diversity and inclusion and grow their businesses. 


Benefits of online learning in the workplace

Below are highlights of how online education can deliver these four advantages and benefits.


Benefit of online learning and training #1: It helps employees stay relevant in a fast-paced world

Employers and employees are facing one of the fastest workplace revolutions. Keeping individual and professional skills updated can be difficult in a fast-paced world, especially when balancing personal commitments, a part-time or full-time job and more. This is especially important as one-third of employees say they aren’t getting what they need to contribute effectively in their rapidly evolving businesses

With online learning and training, companies enable employees to pursue education from the comfort of their home, during their lunch breaks and on their own schedule. Online learning gives employees the opportunity to learn new skills that are imperative and relevant for the workplace. 


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Benefit of online learning and training #2: Provides accessibility

Online learning’s flexibility also gives employees the opportunity to learn and grow, no matter their education level or professional goals. From pursuing a high school diploma or bachelor’s degree to learning a new skill set, there are online training programs for every employee. Also, online learning allows employees to engage in courses globally, without physical barriers. 


Benefit of online learning and training #3: Helps employees develop soft skills 

Online classes utilize active learning practices, including video conferencing, instructional videos and interactive webinars. Students are able to engage with professors and other students, as well as collaborate on group projects virtually.

Through active learning and virtual collaboration, employees can develop soft skills for the professional world. As employers increasingly embrace remote working, it’s important for employees to have the communication skills and tech-savviness to navigate a virtual working world.  


Benefit of online learning and training #4: Leads to employee success

In a recent study, 47 percent of employees stated that their extra training and education helped them advance within their current company. Furthermore, lifelong learning helps employees feel more capable and well-rounded, increasing their overall confidence in the workplace. 

Online learning also expands the reach of employees with 65 percent of students taking classes in the past 12 months reporting that their online program expanded their professional network. Through online learning and training, students are able to make global connections with professors, student cohorts and alumni members in the same industry.


Online learning in the workplace is the way forward

Online learning and training is being adopted at a rapid rate for these reasons and more. This trend is expected to grow amid a worldwide virtual learning movement as businesses continue to see the positive impact and benefits of online education on their workforce. Online learning gives employers the opportunity to upskill and reskill, as well as engage their workforce, leading to sustainable business growth. 

A good first step is to choose a trusted, top-tier academic network with a demonstrated history of online learning success for working adults helps ensure strong outcomes for employees and impactful results for your business. As the premier global provider of Strategic Enterprise Education™, InStride provides a network of universities globally, with proven track records for working adults.

Ready to get started? Get in touch today.