Many companies spend millions of dollars per year on training for their personnel. While this investment can produce significant benefits, it also creates numerous challenges, including employee scheduling and productivity, geographic distance – which entails travel and related expenses – and other budget-impacting issues.

E-learning, or online learning, has over the last 25 years evolved into a cost-effective alternative to on-campus learning for many companies looking to empower their workforce with the most up-to-date training and credentials. Traditional classroom attendance is no longer the only way that students can partake of higher education. Today’s technology allows for learning from anywhere, at any time, at a quality equal to traditional classroom learning.

A Virtual World

One example is Villanova University, ranked the top university in the North (Master’s Division) for more than a decade by U.S. News & World Report. It is among the higher learning institutions that offer a variety of educational programs online. Based in Villanova, Pa., the university enables students virtually anywhere in the world to earn certificates online in such critical and diverse disciplines as project management, the field of managing workflows, Six Sigma, a widely used improvement methodology that reduces product or service failure rates, and information systems (IS) security, an area in which Villanova University can also prepare students for CISSP certification. The required curriculum – often just three multi-week courses per master certificate – is offered totally online.

Internet-based Technology

In the same manner, enterprises are turning to technology such as video and audio conferencing to save money and time when communicating with a widely dispersed workforce, remote vendors and the like, organizations of all sizes are taking advantage of Internet-based technology to meet their educational objectives. The technology allows for flexibility, so companies can help employees expand their job expertise through programs customized to corporate requirements, instead of generic, one-size-fits-all approaches.

In this case, powered by University Alliance, Villanova offers a state-of-the-art e-learning system that immerses students in a multimedia educational environment. They can view streaming video lectures on demand, and communicate with instructors and fellow students via message boards, live chat rooms, shared whiteboards and e-mail. Perhaps the most significant feature of all is two-way Voice over IP virtual classroom with instant messaging, interactive voice technology which enables students to ask questions of instructors and dedicated subject-matter experts in real-time.

These technology tools enable people to train at their own convenience, 24/7, around their own schedules, allowing them to balance education, work and family. Further, they can learn anywhere they have access to the Internet, which is virtually everywhere thanks to wireless Internet hotspots, laptops, PDAs and other portable electronic devices. No campus attendance is ever required with e-learning, which not only makes it a very convenient option, it also eliminates fuel expenses and other travel costs. And students receive the same high quality of education as students who attend Villanova University classes in person.

Cost-Effective Alternative

The benefits of e-learning are well-documented; it’s a truly cost-effective alternative to the traditional university experience:
  • Overall cost savings of 40-60 percent, according to Geo Learning: Building a Business Case for E-learning.
  • Average time savings of 40-60 percent, according to THINQ’s Research Department: How E-Learning Can Increase ROI for Training.
  • 60 percent faster learning curve than traditional instruction, also according to THINQ’s Research Department: How E-Learning Can Increase ROI for Training.
As corporate educational needs continue to evolve, and transportation and other costs continue to rise, companies are increasingly looking to the benefits of online training for their personnel. It’s a proven educational method that can produce real results, and an economical way for employers to empower their people with new skills and credentials that will benefit company and individual alike. The invaluable combination of customizable programs, top-ranked universities, convenience and cost savings makes e-learning a resource many companies cannot afford to do without.

SIDEBAR: Security Management Online, Too

The June issue of Security Magazine featured the magazine’s annual listing of degree programs, mostly related to security management, life safety, forensics and homeland security. The list of one hundred institutions is accessible through the Security Web at