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E-learning – efficient or enjoyable?


I'm doing some psychological research on e-learning. The benefits of e-learning are very well known (self-paced, easy access, 24-7 etc) but I'm interested to know whether people actually enjoy it as much as classroom training? What factors would determine people's enjoyment? All thoughts welcome. Thanks Tim

16 Responses

  1. E Learning
    Hi Tim

    I was asked to complete an E learning course a few months ago.

    It’s still on my “to do” list as I would rather cut the lawn with nail clippers.

    I’m sure it has its uses and I know there are many fans of it on this site but for some people, me included, it doesn’t turn us on.



  2. E-learning
    Hi Steve

    Thanks for your reply.

    I appreciate what you’re saying. If the e-learning is just a matter of accessing learning resources online, then it’s not much better than reading a book. On the other hand, a good classroom-based training course is appealing in terms of meeting new people and having the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning.


  3. Ted.Com
    Hi Tim

    I’m sure E Learning people will have different views but the thought of staring at a screen is a massive turn off for me. Training is all about sharing real experiences with real people isn’t it? The only advantage I can see with anything “E” is cost which is probably why it’s been so popular? (Will now hide as I know how “E” people feel about “E” stuff!)

    Check out Sir Ken Robinson on for some interesting thoughts on the future of education and training .

    Maybe *I’m* wrong and *they* are right? Are we using outdated methodologies? The world will be very different in 10, 20 and 30 years time and are we teaching / training the right skills for people to operate in a world we no nothing about? To get your head round this imagine what the i phone will be like in 30 years! Will people need to *discuss* or *imagine* or will computers do it for them?



  4. e-learning – created by real people for real people!
    As an e-learning creative director I’m interested by Steve’s response to the very concept of e-learning…that only face-to-face is about ‘real people’. As a real person myself, working with real clients and real SMEs, and writing for real people in organisations, it’s rather odd to be dismissed as ineffective or my work unenjoyable simply because of the medium I use to communicate and engage people with.

    However, if it’s the medium that ‘gets in the way’, I can only assume that Steve has yet to discover the engaging and enjoyable delights of some of the other ‘non-face-to-face’ media available to him, viz books, cinema, animation, the internet, music CDs etc…!

  5. Type Talk
    Hi Tim!

    As your research is about the psychological aspects of e-learning – and having worked closely (but not as an accredited practitioner) with MBTI – what makes for an enjoyable learning experience depends very much on what makes each of us tick.

    Whereas some thrive in a face-to-face classroom, seeking to learn from the thoughts of others, which they may then compare with their own interpretations, myself (as an INTJ) enjoy being left alone with my e-learning course and being able to compare my big picture view of the world with what I’m being taught, at my own pace.

    So even before we look at features of e-learning, if we understand what makes us tick in everyday life, we can start to think about how we like to learn and what we need to compensate for a non-preferred learning method that may have been imposed on us (for whatever reason, including being the only affordable option, if we assume some cost-effectiveness driver).

    I’ve been involved with e-learning now for over 15 years and whereas I’ve come across many learners for whom this is not their preferred way, with the right levels of support that pick up on the shortcomings for some categories of learners and a good quality course that has usually taken its design influences from what works well in the classroom – I’ve rarely met someone who didn’t get something from an e-learning course. For those learners that wouldn’t normally enjoy an unsupported e-learning course, if its just one component in a learning programme and where they can clearly see the context of that one element, they’ve felt more at ease about the method.

    I’ve tended to prefer generic e-learning courses that favour the use of questions to drive learning over those that just “present” the knowledge and which recognise the shades of grey in many subject areas by carefully considered feedback. I’ve also seen that the use of audio narration that expands on bulleted on-screen content is appreciated by many learners. In fact, when I’ve offered two courses in the same subject area – one with and one without audio – the former has always been the most popular. In fact, at times, I’ve encountered pushback from learners when trying to deploy a non-audio based course.


  6. Enjoyment
    The original question was *Does anyone enjoy it”

    Please forward feedback from any delegate who said…

    “I really enjoyed that e course…more please!”

    The only people who seem to enjoy e learning are the people who develop it and the people who pay for it.

    Or am I wrong? No Developers or Buyers please!

  7. Enjoyment – medium or content?
    Hi Tim

    I work in e-learning, but I am also a consumer of it.

    I would say the majority of my learning in the last few years has been primarily through online media. I find it a better medium for what I want to learn. Most of the time I am seeking out learning to solve a problem – so I am highly motivated to learn and enjoyment in the process is not relevent to my needs.

    I prefer e-learning becuase it gets me the results I seek more effectively and efficiently.

    I think you need to be very careful how you define what you are doing, and also compare offline with online alternatives.

    Being in the classroom for a day or two can be an enjoyable experience – but is it the learning that is being enjoyed, or the non-learning social interaction?

    To truly compare ‘enjoyment’ or even ‘preference’ (I contend that the latter is more valuable than the former) – you will need to compare a classroom experience, which has a mixture of learning and non-learning social interaction; with a mixed e-learning and non-learning social experience.

    Or to put it another way. Suppose an employer said – we are eliminating all classroom training and replacing it with e-learning, however the time/money saved will be used to put on more social events, or just give people some free time off to do what they want.

    In that scenario – which would people say they prefer or enjoy more?


  8. As a learner, yes
    Hi Tim,

    From my point of view that’s a little like asking if you enjoy listening to a music CD any more than reading a book or watching The Apprentice. It depends on the content and design, not the medium.

    So far this month I’ve had 2 structured learning experiences, besides the numerous occasions ranging from 5 minutes to a couple of hours when I’ve searched/called/browsed/watched something that I would count as learning.

    The first was a half day seminar on Marketing Strategies in a Recession, in a big room with 20 other colleagues, a presentation (167 slides!), a speaker, 2 bottles of water, a notepad, question time. The second was a webinar on Advanced Interviewing Techniques (yes, we’re actually going to be hiring…) which lasted 3 hours in total and included a break-out session, bookended with 30 minute ‘lectures’.

    In the first seminar I was bored silly for half of it – a lot of the material was just regurgitated from basic marketing strategies workshops that we’ve all attended, the trainer genuinely thought he was funny but mostly came across as a bit obnoxious, and the chairs were stupidly uncomfortable. Besides the odd (small) nugget, it was a half day mostly wasted and I was not a happy chappy.

    The webinar however was great. I came away with challenging new ideas, energized, with enough try-out time set aside to tease but not satisfy my lust to try out this great new learning.

    I loved the learning; it happened to be a webinar rather than a bunch of people in a room.

    Maybe the question should have been: why do we all have an urge to shift all the ‘boring’ and compliance-type training to eSomething under the guise of cutting costs but keep as much of the interesting training as possible in the classroom (leaving aside mitigating circumstances such as distributed workforce, etc., your mileage may vary).

    All the best,

  9. Hope you told him?
    I hope you told this person that this isn’t acceptable? No wonder e learning is taking off!

    “The first was a half day seminar on Marketing Strategies in a Recession, in a big room with 20 other colleagues, a presentation (167 slides!)”

    Amazing that events like this still take place in 2009 but *Training* world seems to be full of *Consultants* who have All The Gear But No Idea!

    Makes me want to do an e learning couse! 😉


  10. Click 167 times
    …and it could easily have been ‘click the next button 167 times and then print out the certificate at the completion screen’, but luckily I haven’t come across one of those in a few years.
    Maybe they’ve just all been standardized or bog-awful feedback’ed out…

  11. 167
    167 slides in 4 hrs…

    Theres a programme on Sky for World Records…If he could eat 4 Jaffa Cakes in a minute he could double up!

    Back to e learning…still not convinced…

  12. If only…
    Hi tim

    My experience seems to chime with everyone else’s. It always seems like a cost-saving measure rather than a better way to learn. I think it’s made all the harder in comparison with the other sorts of media people use. If you play modern computer games the budgets are up there with those for films so the experience is engrossing and the look and feel can be brilliant. Now try an e-learning package and you may expect something vaguely similar because you’re interacting with your computer – but no chance.

    I don’t think the budgets do need to be this big but a lot more thought about interactivity, different routes through the learning, make them more like games, have some humour, etc All would help, most would cost. So unless there’s a big roll-out I’d be surprised how much people would be willing to spend.

    So, if only e-learning was as engrossing as the best computer games they would be fine.


  13. E-Learning – efficient or enjoyable
    Hi Tim

    Reading some of the comments below it appears open up an even greater debate – Learning efficient or enjoyable?

    On the e-learning front, I’ve spent a considerable amount of my working life in the education sector, particularly e-learning using computer games based authoring programmes for subjects ranging from Shakespeare to Politics. I’ve been in classrooms where all children (and adults) of all ages, particularly those who are switched off by other methods of learning, are totally engrossed. The main difference was they were creating the learning. For example, staging their own version of Macbeth, adding sound, their own voices, special effects, thoughts about character motivations, etc. It was a totally immersive experience and the control was largely with the learner, but the teacher had the output at the end from what the learners had created and something to show and use with other learners. To this end, the learners did enjoy it and results in the schools and changes in behaviours of hard to reach learners demonstrated it was also efficient. However, it was quite costly to develop and it required a brave and confident teacher to use it.

    The main strength of the tool was its educational underpinning – it was developed by and for educationalists and came from extensive research at Oxford University.

    Though this doesn’t answer the work based e-learning question, it may be food for thought. Happy to share any more information if you need it, please e-mail me at [email protected]


  14. enjoying elearning
    As people have said, it depends on the e-learning and what it’s being compared to.

    I have definitely enjoyed e-learning.
    I’ve taken 2 e-learning courses (one of Learning to Teach Online and one about designing online courses) and I also did an online MA in Creative Writing and New Media. Part of the enjoyment was the subject itself, other parts included the ability to do it when I wanted, the interactive nature of the material and most of all the contact with other learners from all over the place, who I wouldn’t normally have met.

    This was not just stuff on the screen to learn and digest. Key input material was certainly included, but then we discussed it, related it to everyday experience, produced our own ideas.

    I like the online environment, and belong to online forums. I consider the people I meet there to be real, and when by chance I meet some of them, they are the same as they seem to be as online learners. I know not everyone has the same experience.

  15. E-learning – E-fficient / E-njoyable
    Thanks to everyone for the great answers to my original question – very thought-provoking.

    It seems enjoyment is determined by both individual personality factors and also system factors such as the content and design. A well designed system will appeal to more learning styles. And it’s interesting to read the comments about using the MBTI to identify learners’ personality differences and the extent that personality may determine enjoyment. I previously conducted some similar research using the OPQ but focusing on preferences e.g. sociable people prefer learning in the classroom etc.

    However as some of you have said, perhaps enjoyment is less relevant than efficiency when people make choices about attending a learning programme. After all we mostly want learning to be effective and successful, and if it’s enjoyable, then that’s a bonus!


  16. e-learning
    I think its fun learning something using interactive courses. You get more involved and its easier. Animations/audio/video make learning much more enjoyable experience.


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