Can You Actually Learn Essential Skills Online

Digital Skills: Is E-Learning Enough?

Digital skills are becoming increasingly essential for future-proofing your career and not least because of the rapid proliferation of digital industries. According to Daniel Patel, the SAP (Systems, Applications, and Products in Data Processing) delivery director at Eursap, the world’s growing talent pool has made digital skills imperative. He has said “with the SAP market becoming saturated and competition increasing, having an SAP resume that stands out is now more important than ever.”

From coding to copywriting, transcribing to taxation, finding online courses for digital skills is easy. The popularity of e-learning platforms suggests that we enjoy this new format of education too. But when careers depend on the skills gained, we must be sure that we’re getting at least the same quality of education as others participating in real world learning environments. So, are we?

The Rise of Online Learning Platforms

From the simple DIY YouTube tutorial to more advanced video learning experiences, such as Google’s Academy for analytics and other Google tools, people are taking to video for many of their lessons.

Lynda was founded in 1995, but its appreciation has skyrocketed over the past few years. This has seen LinkedIn buying the platform earlier this year for a whopping $1.5 billion. The thinking is clear: E-learning will become more accessible, more innovative, and its flexibility will attract users who are unable to attend lessons.

The Human Brain Registers Information Better in a Real-World Environment

Though e-learning offers a flexibility that classroom teaching cannot, it still does not offer the learning experience that real-life environments can. As the drop off in Kindle sales this year illustrates, we do not always find it easy to process information from a screen.

Scientific American has claimed that the brain is able to process information from paper far more effectively than from a screen. They argue the tactility of a physical object is an important factor when learning and often entirely absent when interacting through a screen.

The Key is to Combine the Two

A tutorial on Google Analytics, Microsoft Excel, or video editing can give us the basic how-to points. But if these skills are to be practiced in a business environment they need expertise. This is much harder to achieve when you only have the e-learning experience.

It has been noted in an article from AoC Jobs that technology is encouraging new teaching methods in further education. In their blog, they discuss how it can provide an additional support for ESL students “who might need help when reading and look for pronunciations and meanings as they work through a text on a tablet.”

Business skills training platforms have also taken this into account. Tutor-led training company Activia Training have curated courses that can be personalized to individual needs and include e-books, digital learning, and the benefits of the classroom environment.

E-learning platforms can easily fit into our lives, but making the most of them goes far beyond simply learning at home. Finding practical applications for the skills gained will have immeasurable benefits that can boost employability.