How Self-Directed Learning Helps Cut Costs

Big Think Edge | January 11, 2018

In-person training programs were, at one time, the best way to help your employees learn new skills and to ensure that the lessons stuck. With an in-person training session, employees could engage in roleplay with lecturers to practice skills, ask questions when they were unsure of lesson content, and get a sense of how important the lessons were because the company would set aside dedicated time for them to attend.

However, in-person training programs have a fair number of problems, not the least of which is that these programs can be incredibly expensive and cumbersome to deploy across a large organization. Not only do you have to set aside time for each employee attending the in-person training, you also have to pay for the time of the lecturer for each training session. In this scenario, delays and additional expenses aren’t uncommon.

Thankfully, in-person training isn’t the only way to effectively teach employees new skills or help them develop their careers. Technology has created new solutions that empower employees to direct their own learning and at their own pace. These self-directed learning (SDL) solutions circumvent many of the limitations of traditional training programs—helping you cut training costs, increase learner engagement, and improve the scalability of your learning program.

How can you use self-directed learning to cut costs and improve employee learning in your organization? Here are a few of the ways that SDL can reduce training costs while improving results:

Eliminating Travel Expenses

One of the biggest benefits of an online SDL program is that you don’t have to schedule and budget for large group trips to remote training facilities every time they need to learn a specific skill or prepare for a specific promotion. Instead, you can set up a series of lessons for learners to engage in from their own desks, or even from the comfort of their homes.

Cutting Retraining Expenses

One of the “forgotten” costs of in-person training is the cost of rescheduling a training session if the trainer or the trainee misses a lesson—or if the trainee needs to revisit the course for a variety of reasons. In a traditional training program, this means having to go through all of the setup for the training session all over again, or accepting the consequences of not scaling the learning to all employees.

In an SDL program, there are no specific training times to miss—everything can be done at the learner’s own pace. So, there’s no need to reschedule anything. If a learner fails an evaluation, they’re free to retake the course and try again.

It’s still important to keep in mind that, if a large number of employees are failing the post-learning evaluation, that can be an indication that there’s a problem to be looked at with the lesson content.

Unlimited Access to Learning Content

With in-person lessons, your organization has to pay for the lecturer/teacher’s time. This limits the accessibility of the lessons—and growing access to the lecturer or teacher means a commensurate growth in training costs as you have to compensate them for their time.

Online learning resources, such as pre-recorded short-form videos, interactive lessons, eBooks, and the like can provide nearly unlimited access to learning content. This makes it far less costly to scale a self-directed learning program across a large, geographically spread-out organization than in-person training programs.

Also, with online learning content, you can leverage content from well-known industry leaders who your employees respect and admire to boost engagement with learning content—leaders who would be nearly impossible to book as live lecturers for every employee to learn from on anything resembling a realistic budget.

For example, Big Think Edge’s online learning content regularly features lessons from world-famous industry leaders in fields such as finance, business communication, design thinking, and more! These leaders share their experiences in stories and anecdotes that highlight the importance of the lesson content, such as how Elon Musk got started on his path to becoming one of the world’s most famous entrepreneurs, or Carson Tate’s advice for managing productivity and attention at work that is rooted in relatable examples of distractions that everyone deals with.

Reminder: You CAN Get the Best of Both Worlds

Many organizations still use in-person lessons for specific training courses because learners can benefit so much from an interactive, live training session where they are able to practice what they’re learning with guidance from an expert.

And, it is possible to use both in-person lessons and self-directed online learning together in a single program—but it can be a challenge. If you’re using a blended learning approach, it’s important to ensure that learners complete all of the prerequisite learning that they need prior to the launch of a live training session.

This can require some delicate balancing of SDL flexibility and the time limitations of in-person training, but it can be done. Some organizations use in-person training to capstone an SDL program—creating a final, in-person assessment that is scheduled only after an employee has passed all of the relevant online assessments.

Of course, to realize the full benefit of self-directed learning, you need to have the right content and resources to share with employees and keep them engaged. Big Think Edge is here to help with a vast library of content from experts, such as Richard Branson or Linda Hill, who are either leading their respective industries, or are shaking them up.

Learn more about how you can use SDL to cut costs and improve learning outcomes in your organization today!

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