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Imagine a world without eLearning. What would it be like? For me it’s not too hard to imagine… I’ve been around long enough that we didn’t have eLearning when I was in school. In fact it didn’t even start to take until I’d been working in the world of training and development for a few years.

Now that eLearning has been part of our reality for so many years—and we’ve been reaping the benefits—it’s easy to forget what it was like BEL (before eLearning). So, humor me and join me in a stroll down memory lane as I recall what it was like when we had to walk uphill both ways, through the snow to get our training content delivered:

Paper. Lots and lots of paper.

During college, before eLearning was an option, I spent a lot of money buying paper textbooks. In the world of work, my team and I spent a lot of money printing binders full of paper that provided employees with instructions about how to do their job. Now, thanks to eLearning, there’s a lot less paper and hopefully a few more trees.

Geographic limitations.

If there was a workshop you wanted to attend in another city, state, or part of the world, you either purchased a ticket to get yourself to that place… or, you didn’t attend the workshop. The evolution of eLearning has erased geographic boundaries—with a Wi-Fi connection learners are able to access the same eLearning content from just about anywhere in the world.

Higher costs.

Bus, airplane and train tickets are expensive. So are hotels, conference centers, and other costs associated with in-person training sessions. The arrival of eLearning did wonders to help training and development teams manage their budgets by creating content that doesn’t require a room or a facilitator, but can be delivered to thousands of people—with “only” the cost of development to consider.

Face-to-face dialogue.

While technology has done a world of good for how learning is delivered, there’s one element that tech can’t replace: human interaction. Learners obtain a vast amount of knowledge and information from online courses. But there are times when the value of connecting with an instructor, coach, peer, or mentor about a topic can’t be replaced. That’s when a blended learning solution makes the most sense and allows designers to capitalize on what both eLearning and in-person learning can deliver.

On those days when your computer breaks, or your client asks for edits in yet another online course, or when you’re trying to publish content via an unfriendly LMS, think about what it would be like if you had to print another thousand copies of the module, or find the budget to fly 50 people in for a training session, or walk uphill both ways to reach your workshop location.

Imagine a world without eLearning and maybe, just maybe, the technology issues you’re facing won’t seem so bad.

LizSheffieldBioLiz Sheffield is a freelance writer with a background in training and development. She specializes in writing about everything related to the human side of business. You can contact her via LinkedIn or Twitter.

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