Why train face to face when a blended elearning approach is more effective and can save thousands?

cost effective elearning

Is elearning Cost Effective?

When businesses start to think about using elearning to deliver training or education, then they naturally will wonder: Is eLearning cost-effective?

It’s a very good question to think about. Developing elearning courses requires investment. Even if you’ll be selling your online courses, it may be a few months before you recoup that investment.

Of course classroom based face to face learning will never become obsolete.  Sometimes there is no substitute for being shown, in the flesh, how something is done.  However, elearning as part of a blended approach is more cost-effective and could save a company thousands of pounds.

Let’s look take a scenario to demonstrate the point.

Scenario:  Induction Training 

Induction training, helps new employees understand their role in the wider business.  However, many larger organisations still deliver induction training en masse.  A group of new employees is brought together for an intensive couple of days learning all about their new company.

It’s the perfect opportunity to instill in your new staff:

  • The company vision
  • The product portfolio
  • The key initiatives
  • How to use the systems
  • Future plans.

From the HR policies, to how to use the Intranet, to the key selling points of the product ranges, it’s all vital stuff.  But is it really necessary to have all the new starters in one room to do it?

Firstly, it’s a very expensive way of doing it, particularly for companies with multiple offices.  Secondly, it’s not entirely effective.

So much information needs to be packed into a few days of induction (usually by PowerPoint) that the lasting effectiveness of the training is compromised!

The disadvantages of classroom-based induction training

Let’s take the example of a 2 day onboarding event run by a leading international IT company.  Around 30 new starters are flown in from Europe, the USA, Africa, South America and Asia for their onboarding at HQ.  There are some inherent problems with this approach:

  • Delegates are often tired and jet-lagged from their travels, affecting their concentration
  • Attention spans wane at various points throughout the day, due to information overload
  • Language barriers sometimes dilute the message that is consumed
  • Delegates still have to attend to their phone calls and emails throughout the day so can miss vital information
  • While out of the office for the 3-5 days required to attend the 2 day event, productivity is affected

So we have to wonder: “How effective is this learning approach both in terms of cost and in terms of learning?”

First, costs.

  • An average £500 per flight. Total for 30 people = £15,000
  • Each delegates stays in a hotel for at least 3 nights, with meals, at £150 per night. Total = £13,500
  • The 2 days is facilitated by an external training company. Total = £5,000
  • The company’s own training team is present for the two days. 10 of the company’s key executives are required to give an hour or two each of their valuable time to deliver presentations. Let’s call that another £5,000 in salaried time. (This is before factoring in the delegates time out of the office.)
  • A staggering total of £1,283 per delegate

That’s a total cost of £38,500.  Oh, and that’s per month because these onboarding events are run monthly!

Elearning cost effectiveness

We haven’t factored in the time to prepare the presentations. But let’s redirect that effort into developing versions of these presentations that can be delivered as elearning modules.  Some investment of time is required to scope out the requirement and design initially, but the ROI is almost immediate:

  • A programme like this could be designed and developed for as little as £5,000
  • To be fair, let’s factor in another £2,000 in salaried time for the time required of the client to help scope out the project and review material throughout the process
  • The elearning material has greater longevity and could be used time and time again
  • Delegates can work through modules at their own pace ensuring knowledge is more effectively retained
  • Assessments can be integrated into the modules to ensure the content has been understood
  • The elearning modules are always available when a refresher is required
  • Follow-up sessions can then be conducted by managers to ensure new employees get one-to-one time. This also gives opportunity for them to raise any questions and for the manager to identify any further support required
  • Environmental impact is greatly reduced as the need to travel is minimised
  • Productivity disruptions are minimised as elearning modules can be taken anytime to suit the individuals schedule

So that’s a total one-off cost of £7,000.

With the wonders of video conferencing, key execs at HQ are still able to deliver their messages in person – the audience does not all have to be sat together in one room.

A virtual tour of HQ can even be given online if required. A forum setup online for new starters so the social interaction and support provided by a face to face environment is not lost.

This is a blended learning approach with most things happening online. A blended learning approach to onboarding really does optimise your budget and the effectiveness of the programme. It’s cost effective.

Table 1: The monthly cost of onboarding: face to face versus elearning


Face To Face


Travel Costs £15,000 per 30 delegates


Accommodation Costs £13,500 per 30 delegates £0
Training Provider / Developer £5,000 per event £5,000 one-off
Executive / Staff Costs £5,000 per event £2,000 one-off
Total £38,500 £7,000


Table 2: Benefit analysis of onboarding: face to face versus elearning

Face To Face


Knowledge Retention Reduced due to information overload, language barriers, jet lag + Learning consumed at own pace, manageable modules, assessments

Retention higher due to visual interactive course materials

Corporate Impact + Meet key execs, social interaction, experience HQ + Meet key execs via WebEx, online forum, virtual tour
Scalability Each event must be resourced (venue, key execs time, etc) and caters for max. number of delegates + Each module can be accessed by any number of delegates across the globe, any number of times
Productivity Impact Delegates are required to take time out of the office, but must still respond to calls and emails + Delegates can fit elearning modules into their schedules in manageable time slots
Environmental Impact Delegates are required to travel, increasing carbon footprint + Delegates can access elearning from wherever they are

Now over to you. Analyse the costs of your current classroom based courses. Then work out how much it would cost to develop some of the training into elearning.

If you’re thinking about using elearning, get in touch – we may be able to help you.

Find out more about our Custom e-learning course development