Published on

September 17, 2021

Corporate e-learning 101: A Beginner’s Guide

Stephanie Neusser

Stephanie Neusser

Marketing Lead


Learning Hub

Reading time:


Girl sitting in front of her PC and waving

Corporate learning is undergoing a transformation. 

Personnel development is more important than ever due to constantly changing markets, technological advances, specialization, increasing difficulty recruiting and increased competitive pressure. This is also reflected in the personnel development and technology budgets. But despite increased investments in new e-learning solutions, most companies are not seeing significant progress. But what's the reason? 

In this article, you'll learn the basics on corporate e-learning, what to look for when introducing e-learning and how to successfully implement digital learning forms in your company right from the start.

Curious to know more? Download our ultimate guide.

What is e-learning?

You probably heard of it before. Simply put, electronic learning, or e-learning for short, is any type of training, learning, or education on electronic devices. With e-learning, educational materials can be delivered and consumed on electronic devices such as computers, tablets, and sometimes even smartphones. Examples for e-earning are watching a video tutorial, reading an interesting article on the internet, or taking part in an online quiz - it is basically any form of delivery of learning and training through digital resources.

We use e-learning every day to develop ourselves as individuals. Universities and companies, from small start-ups to large enterprises, use e-learning to train their employees or students and optimize their internal processes.

What is an e-learning platform?

An e-learning platform is an information system that organizations and institutions use to provide their users with learning material. For example, a Learning Management System (LMS) is an e-learning platform. Most courses you can find on these platforms are often filled with pre-recorded videos, texts, or academic papers and sometimes even with interactive online services like quizzes and games.

The majority of online learning platforms offer different types of programs:

Individual courses

This is the smallest type of all programs available. Individual courses can be 1-off classes, once-in-a-while classes, regular classes, or courses available all the time. When choosing to learn with individual courses, you often study alone and are largely on your own. And if you have any questions, there is a group discussion forum in most cases. The typical duration of these courses ranges from just a few weeks to a couple of months.

Course bundles

Course bundles are, as the name suggests, a collection of courses about a specific topic, e.g. data science, product management. On many online learning platforms, they are called Learning Paths or Nanodegrees for which you can earn a certificate.

Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees

On some e-learning platforms, you can even get a traditional bachelor’s degree from renowned companies and partner universities all around the globe. But hold on! Most online degrees start at a total sum of $22,000. Sure, this is cheaper than on-campus degrees but it is still expensive for many people.

When comparing different e-learning platforms, the main flaw is immediately apparent: There is no such thing as a personalization of the educational content. That means the content you or your employees learn is the same for all learners, independent of their current skills level.

8 forms of corporate learning

Naturally, it makes sense to focus primarily on digital learning, as remote work becomes the new normal.  Most companies are increasing their technology spending to support a better complement of digital learning activities. The learning vendor landscape is fragmented and can be confusing if this isn’t an area you’re familiar with. To select the right solution for your organization, use this overview.

Learning Management System (LMS)

Learning Management Systems  (LMS) are software applications that allow you to manage, track, report and deliver educational courses, training programs, or learning and development programs.

Learning Experience Platform (LXP)

A Learning Experience Platform (LXP) is a learner-centric software intended to create personalized learning experiences. It combines a mixture of learning content and uses artificial intelligence to personalize learning paths for each learner.

Microlearning platform

Microlearning platforms provide learning content in the form of short and entertaining learning nuggets. Content can be accessed from mobile devices, making it convenient for employees who want to integrate learning into everyday life or who are on the move.

Virtual reality (VR)

Virtual reality (VR) provides computer-generated environments and simulations that immerse users in a virtual scenario and/or situation. VR training is often used in production today, as processes can be mapped realistically and employees can be more effectively trained or retrained.

Learning Record Stores

Learning Record Stores are data stores that extend the reporting and analysis capabilities of a Learning Management System by capturing a wide range of learning experiences and activities.

Learning Content Management Systems

Learning Content Management Systems are the place to create and edit learning content, then store it for reuse and evaluation.

Virtual classrooms

Virtual classrooms are an online learning environment where mentors and learners can present course materials, engage and interact with other members of the virtual class, and work in groups together. 

Content Libraries

Content Libraries offer pre packaged content libraries, courses, videos, and books that are licensed to you for use in your organization.

E-learning content types

As already mentioned, eLearning provides you with a huge amount of learning materials easily accessible via the internet. One of the main reasons why people use eLearning is because they want to develop new skills and gain or update their knowledge about a specific topic. In order to do so, they can make use of a variety of content types - I bet you've used more than just one of these before. The most commonly used are:

  • Digital Courses
  • Quizzes
  • Webinars
  • Video Courses
  • Screencasts
  • Podcasts

Getting started with e-learning: 10-step guide

There are many good reasons to invest in a new (or better) e-learning solution. Regardless of whether you are just starting with e-learning or want to upgrade your current solution, the success of your e-learning depends heavily on the acceptance and motivation of your company and your learners. After all, learning can only be successful when "having to learn" turns into "wanting to learn." But how can you increase the acceptance of e-learning in your company and the motivation of your learners? For more information, don't forget to check out our 10-step guide.

For a successful corporate learning strategy, follow these 10 simple steps.

  1. Define your goals 
  2. Don’t forget to consult your staff
  3. Form a successful project team
  4. Communicate and align internally 
  5. Set targets and define KPIs
  6. Specify your requirements
  7. Create a timeline 
  8. Define budgets and resources
  9. Leverage your provider's expertise 
  10. Take the leap: get started with e-learning

Corporate e-learning Dos and Don'ts

Research shows that digital learning is more effective than traditional education methods. Thus, e-learning is already changing the way how individuals and also entire companies learn. It is steadily becoming the new status quo in corporate training but also in education in general. Unfortunately, shifting learning to the internet alone does not make a significant difference for your employees in acquiring new skills. But don't worry. we got your back! In order to keep your learners' motivation high, increases the retention rate, and also improve your ROI on corporate training, here are some important points you should consider:

Choose the right e-learning platform

Choosing the right learning platform affects how much your employees enjoy using it and even how effectively they use it. Even though this section actually deserves its own blog article and it is hard to find the "right" eLearning platform, we can give you some food for thought here:

  • Is your platform easy to use? Make sure your platform provides an intuitive system and has clear controls for all users.
  • Is it secure? That means, for example, is the platform conform to laws about personal information security? If yes, good!
  • Does it have sufficient analytics available for all users? Why is that important you ask? Because your learners have to figure out their personal skill and knowledge gaps. Additionally, you need enough data and good reporting in order to evaluate the learners' performance and your ROI on employee training.
  • Is it reliable? Your eLearning platform should be stable and able to handle both high demand from users and ongoing growth of employees using it. The coolest platform is of no use to you if it is constantly overloaded and crashing.

Include participatory teaching methods

Do not get me wrong, learning always involves theory and, criticism aside, the theory is actually a good thing because it allows you to understand complex issues at a much deeper level. But learning is more than that.

You probably have heard about the 10,000-hour rule: The 10,000-hour rule says that you need to practice for about 10,000 hours to get close to perfection and become a master of your subject. In most cases, you won't become a master of your subject if you only learn by theory. Learning also requires real-life practice. But as well as in school and university, eLearning offers you a huge course catalog of theoretical topics; real-life practice is often sought in vain here.

This learning pyramid illustration from Micheal Simmons shows that learning consists not only of passive teaching methods (Lecture, Reading, Audiovisual, Demonstration) but also of participatory teaching methods (Discussion, Practice Doing, Teach others):

"The Learning Pyramid: Why You Should Always Teach What You Learn" - Michael Simmons

And since teaching is at the end of the spectrum, Seneca said it best: “While we teach, we learn”.

Have in mind that learners feel an urge to discuss their opinions and give feedback. Unfortunately, most eLearning platforms only use passive teaching methods which results in a lower avg. retention rate. This problem can be addressed and fixed by incorporating cohort-based learning and discussion sessions. These tactics truly are important drivers for learner retention.

Increase learner engagement

Content types that ensure engagement have a not negligible impact on the effectiveness of the learning progress. In a nutshell, learner engagement means the participation of learners in your educational courses and is also an indicator of a successful learning experience.

The spectrum of engagement in eLearning ranges from absolutely no participation (also called passive learning process) to highly engaged (also called learner-centered education). You can boost learner engagement within your company by making

  • the educational process personal
  • learning social
  • learning a priority in your company
  • learning fun

Provide a great learning experience

As you know by now, eLearning offers you the chance to make your content engaging and interactive. Incorporating gamification in your platform and having an appealing User Interface, result in a better learning experience for the users. Here are some examples of gamification elements:

  • Learning Points (LPs)
  • Leaderboards
  • Quizzes
  • Games

Moreover, the more engaging the content is, the better the learners remember information and if your workers enjoy learning, they will be able to recall and apply the concepts better.

Deliver personalized content

This is probably the most important aspect which separates a good learning platform from a great learning platform: Do not only make sure your educational content is still relevant and timely but also it is tailored to your employee's needs, and current skills and knowledge, too.

Let's be honest to you, Learning for the sake of checking off a box or visiting an obligatory training requirement will not make a difference. As already mentioned, most eLearning platforms still lack personalization. The content delivered is often the same for all learners. But those one-size-fits-all solutions simply won’t make it in the educational world. To make your training more efficient, you need to provide your employees with the right content at the right time when they need it. Your learning platform should have recommended and mandatory courses based on your employees' previous activities in order to provide clear “next steps”.

Since every person learns differently, you should use multimedia. So break up the monotony of straight reading. Instead, include video and audio elements, meaningful, high-fidelity graphics, etc. to your courses. Your learners will absorb the content quicker if the materials are just right for them and their learning style.

Corporate e-learning 101: The ultimate guide

Organizations are emerging from the pandemic with many more challenges than they faced before. In the new candidate driven market, you must respond decisively with measures to attract and retain talent and future proof your organization against a skills deficit. The question is, how do you (effectively) attract, retain, and develop talent? And how can e-learning help?

Find out all the answers in our guide!

The ultimate guide: corporate e-learning 101

Explore further with these stories

All posts

edyoucated is funded by leading research institutions such as the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB), Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK).