Training Efficiency & Effectiveness

August 28, 2017

Table of Contents

  • Efficiency - More Accomplished in Less Time

  • Effectivenss - Higher Retention

We are often asked why we are so passionate about interactive e-learning.

One reason is that it can provide superior training efficiency and effectiveness over traditional classroom (Face-to-Face) delivery.

In this article we'll look at time and retention as measures of efficiency and effectiveness respectively. We will continue to update this article with evidence-based research in the future.

In future articles we will look at the additional advantages interactive e-learning can offer.

Efficiency - More Accomplished in Less Time

One measure of efficiency is time. And as we know, time is money.

A Brandon Hall in-depth review of 130 case studies found that eLearning takes on average 40-60% less time to complete compared to traditional classroom (Face-to-Face) training.

(See Brandon Hall - Return on Investment and Multimedia Training: A Research Study

Photo of Clock

Another measure of efficiency is how much is learned in the same time. IBM’s switch to e-learning helped their employees learn five times more material they would otherwise learn in the same time in a standard classroom training session.

Why? E-learning can result in a 60% faster learning curve.

(See Adams , Gregory L., “Why Interactive?,” Multimedia & Videodisc Monitor, March 1992, pp. 20-25)

Faster learning curve can yield less time spent on learning - more time spent on doing work!

Let's take a moment to think about the real value of time in a concrete example from the Federal sector.

If a GS-9 makes between $43,000 and $56,000 a year with an additional 30% cost in benefits, the cost is approximately $51,600 to $72,800 a year.

  • Based upon a 40 hour week (2,064 hours per year), the cost per hour per employee is approximately $25.00 to $35.27.
  • If we put a GS-9 in training for 40 hours, it costs $1,000 to $1,410. What if there are 30 employees to train? The salary costs alone are $30,000 to $42,300! We may also have travel and per diem costs as well! And there are lost opportunity costs as no work is being performed!
  • So if we can save 40-60% with e-learning over traditional classroom (Face-to-Face) training that's $12,000-$25,380 in salary costs for training our class of 30 employees (we may also be able to eliminate travel and per diem). The employees can return to the job faster!

In this time of challenging budgets, how can this be ignored?

It's easy to see why we work so hard to increase the efficiency of time spent with our interactive e-learning lessons!

Effectiveness - Higher Retention

And what about effectiveness? Efficiency without effectiveness has little value.

Most people would agree that one measure of effectiveness is retention.

In other words, how effective are we at getting those gears in the brain to move the instructional content into short term memory and then into long term memory?

Graphic of Human Brain with Gears Turning to Represent Retention

Whereas the average content retention rate for a traditional classoom (Face-to-Face) training class is only 58%, interactive e-learning experiences enhance the retention rate by 50 - 90%.

(See Stolovitch, H. & Jean, M., “Calculating the Return on Investment in Training: A Critical Analysis and Case Study”. Performance Improvement Vol. 37 No 8.)

Why does interactive e-Learning have higher retention rates?


E-learning interactivity activates more areas of the brain necessary for learning to occur. It can put the learner "into" the content through engaging interactions involving one or more senses.


Micro-learning delivers bite-sized pieces of learning users can digest before coming back for more. This gives the brain a chance to move the content from short term to long term memory. Contrast this to the "fire hose" approach of many classrooms where the learner is inundated with content.


Learners can tackle their lessons at their own speed and the lessons can be customized to their own performance not the pace of the instructor or the rest of the class. The learner is also free to revisit the content as much as desired on the learner's schedule.

Private Practice

Practice increases retention. One type of practice can be found in working scenarios. With well written scenarios in e-learning, learners can practice role-playing and decision-making without fear of embarassment in front of a whole class.

Quizzes & Tests

Frequent quizzes with instant results and feedback have been proven to dramatically increase retention rates. Quizzes can be integrated into all types of media presentations including video.

Couple this with final tests that really do test the learning objectives and spaced testing to cement and document the knowledge transfer.

Superior Retention

The result is simply superior retention. And if other conditions in the workplace are in alignment to support what has been learned, we should also expect improved performance.

No surprise that we recommend e-learning that is well-designed, delivered, supported, tracked and analysed for continuous quality improvement for the best return on investment (ROI)!