The results of a 2019 evaluation of the quality of e-learning training can help shape future design. This is especially useful in these pandemic times.

Online training was already a reality in many companies before Covid-19, with exponential growth in recent years due, in part, to the increasingly intensive incorporation of information and communication technologies. Funding for the traditional distance mode stopped in 2015 in Spain; this contributed to a 132% increase in e-learning courses and a 77% increase in e-learning participants between 2015 and 2018, with the adaptation of distance learning to the new requirements.

The 2019 study (published in April 2020) focuses on training programmes delivered in 2017 and 2018. Its objective was to assess the quality of e-learning training from different perspectives, complemented with an analysis of the adequacy of the cost model. Quantitative and qualitative methodologies were applied, in which learners, tutors and trainers participated together with companies that provided training to their employees and e-learning experts.

Companies providing training to their own employees can partly benefit from public funding and so must meet certain conditions. Companies that use online training largely do so to meet legal requirements in the certification of employees (such as sector-regulated professions) and to cover transversal training needs with a low level of specialisation.

Main findings and recommendations

Companies mostly use training platforms managed by external entities, mainly Moodle, with widespread use of multimedia resources, especially videos. Specific resources in immersive technologies (2D and 3D simulators, augmented or virtual reality) were limited to specific professional niches as a result of technological immaturity and development costs. The report recommends companies to collaborate and develop digital resources jointly to increase the efficiency of the investment and development.

The use of analytics, data mining and artificial intelligence are highlighted as tools that will potentially have a great influence on the development of adaptive learning processes.

The active presence of trainers or tutors, the use of practical methodologies, and the introduction of interactive activities with improved gamification mechanics greatly increase worker engagement in e-learning training. The study results show a low ratio of participants in e-learning (one or two participants per group); the use of collaborative work software, corporate and social networks, is recommended to overcome low group communication on the platforms. These tools should be part of a process of continuous assessment surpassing the widespread tests of automatic correction.

Future training needs: tips and emerging trends

The increasing proliferation of micro-learning possibilities is a trend to consider when defining what training is eligible for funding and the costs of designing, producing and delivering more specific training.

There is a need to favour an omnichannel e-learning environment, accessible through computers and mobile devices. Around 40% of participants use mobiles, especially low-skilled workers.

The evaluation suggests the creation of a public training platform with transversal and basic sectoral content, accessible and oriented to small and medium-size enterprises, together with the possibility of establishing a financing model that prioritises the development of specific sectoral training by companies.

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Evaluación de calidad de las acciones de formación profesional para el empleo en la modalidad de teleformación financiadas en la iniciativa de formación programada por las empresas (ejercicios 2017-2018) [Quality assessment of vocational training actions for employment in the online training modality financed in the initiative ‘training planned by companies’ (2017-2018 years)]