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Jon Kennard


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Insight: How is elearning used across Europe today?


The results of the first barometer on the use of elearning in Europe, conducted by CrossKnowledge and Ipsos, were presented recently as part of the Learning Technologies conference in London.

How is elearning used across Europe today?

In the UK, Spain and Benelux nearly 40% of companies train more than 50% of their employees via elearning. France lags behind at only 17%. Elearning is most used within the services sector – 43% of service-based companies train more than 50 % of their employees via elearning.  

British companies, despite having used elearning for less time than other countries, are quickly developing their application of elearning: in 2011, 51% of companies delivered at least one training via elearning to over 50% of their employees compared to 39% in 2010.

Size matters: large companies have been using elearning the longest. 68% of the European sample of companies that use elearning have a headcount of over 10,000.

Why are companies turning to elearning?

The challenge of training large numbers of employees and the need to align competencies in real time over increasingly competitive global markets and economies of scale are some of the factors that motivated large companies to develop an interest in elearning ahead of the rest. 

Value for money

  • The vast majority of companies surveyed spend less than 10% of their total training budget on elearning
  • The main goal of elearning is training cost optimisation - delivering a consistent quality of training to large numbers of employees accounts for 37% of use.

Fields of application

  • 75% of companies use elearning to deliver training on core professional skills e.g. IT and desktop training, as well as Health and Safety or Compliance training which is often compulsory
  • In large companies there is a clear rise in themes such as management, leadership, communication and personal development. This trend is encouraged by the increasing use of competency development plans
  • Unsurprisingly, language training represents only a small part of the use of elearning in the UK, however its use is much more significant throughout continental Europe led by Spain (60%), Benelux (43%), and followed by Italy (30%)

The study also underlines the link between the length of time that a company has been using elearning and the sophistication of the modules and delivery methods that it makes available. In summary, the more a company puts elearning into practice, the more they enlarge and generalise the offer of e-learning in all its forms.

The most popular delivery methods   

For 76% of companies, the most popular delivery method for elearning is blended learning. 47% already using this approach are planning to intensify usage.  

Elearning with no tutoring is the second most popular method (58%): this seems to fit well with the idea of providing ‘just-in-time’ training via elearning and being able to adapt training to individual needs.  

A question of quality

Even if elearning is almost always introduced for operational reasons (cost optimisation, providing wider access to training), the eventual success of the training consistently depends on the quality of the training initiatives delivered. The quality of the elearning content is certainly an issue, but it is not the only issue: what is also important is the training initiative as a whole, including the delivery method and other practical factors.

Similarly, the relevance of the course content to the needs of the business and the consideration of  operational constraints both strongly affect in whether or not elearning becomes accepted. Conversely, not considering these constraints (lack of time or availability) is seen as the main barrier.

The future of elearning

The use of elearning looks to increase in 2012. Given the economic climate, many companies are seeking to maintain or cut back their overall training budget, furthermore they are looking to reduce training cost per learner in order to be able to train a greater number of employees without increasing spending on training.  

Elearning is being rolled out to a growing circle of employees creating a boom effect. Between 2010 and 2012 the number of companies that train between 10% and 50% of their staff will grow from 30% to 45 % of the sample surveyed. Without a doubt, this is influenced by the widespread adoption of 2.0 technologies made popular by Generation Y which promote collaborative knowledge sharing and the exchange of best practices.

The results of the barometer confirm that elearning has become a credible delivery method for all sizes of enterprise. Whether the company has less than 1,000 employees or between 1,000 and 10,000, the number of users is on the up.
For more information about CrossKnowledge click here


Author Profile Picture
Jon Kennard

Freelance writer

Read more from Jon Kennard

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