E-Learning: The Business Case for Your Organization

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Digital learning, also known as e-learning, replaces the traditional classroom experience. Learn more about the value of e-learning for professional development and how it could help your business meet its strategic goals.

[Featured image] Man taking class on laptop computer

The Covid-19 pandemic pushed many students into virtual learning environments, and the e-learning market continues to grow [1]. Market Research Future valued the corporate e-learning industry at $28.33 billion in 2021. It predicts that number to jump to nearly $120 billion in 2030 [1]. This article explores what professional e-learning entails, types of e-learning, and their pros and cons before discussing why many organizations use e-learning technology today.

What is e-learning?

E-learning refers to using digital technology and electronic resources to deliver educational content. Digital learning can happen in many environments. This article focuses specifically on corporate e-learning, also known as corporate online learning or corporate online training. 

Corporate e-learning offers employees within a business or organization learning and development opportunities in a flexible and accessible way. Your organization might offer mandatory e-learning (e.g., in safety or legal issues) or make other programs voluntary. These could include leadership and management development and department- or role-specific training.

Empower teams with access to world-class content from 325+ top companies and universities

Learn more

Types of e-learning environments 

An e-learning experience typically uses online platforms, courses, modules, and other digital resources. Yet, the virtual e-learning environment can vary. It helps to understand what’s meant by the four types of e-learning.


Online e-learning takes place exclusively on your digital device. Employees can typically access e-learning content from anywhere with an internet connection, using desktop computers, laptops, smartphones, and tablets. Online learning can be synchronous or asynchronous, which we explain below.


A hybrid digital learning setting combines in-person coursework or training with online components. This could mean that a cohort of students meets once weekly at a campus or in the office. Or, they might meet only monthly, quarterly, or at some other regularly scheduled time. 


You can access the content and participate in the virtual learning opportunity anytime when you learn asynchronously. It is self-paced, which allows for greater flexibility as employees can log in on their learning schedule from anywhere.


Synchronous digital learning requires the employees and instructor to be online simultaneously. This can enhance learner engagement as participants can ask questions directly and chat online with each other in real time. However, this type of e-learning is more difficult to schedule if employees are on different shifts or in various locations and other time zones.

Pros and cons of e-learning

Providing online learning opportunities can have advantages and disadvantages. Weigh both sides before deciding on the type of learning and development to offer your employees.


Effective e-learning offers several advantages for employees. We’ll discuss in the next section the benefits for the overall business that offers digital learning and development. For now, know that employees see:

  • Enhanced confidence that they can do their jobs well

  • Boosted motivation and morale as they see the company investing in their career growth

  • Upskilling and talent development

  • More personalized opportunities for learning 

  • Increased convenience and flexibility

  • Improved team communication and collaboration 


Awareness of the potential pitfalls of e-learning is also important. Consider the following potential drawbacks before launching an online learning program:

  • Lack of access to appropriate IT infrastructure

  • Inconsistent learning standards could surface

  • Employees must self-motivate

  • Staff may resist learning in an online setting

How e-learning helps businesses

Offering e-learning also benefits the business overall. Think of the employee advantages discussed above. Increasing their efficacy and engagement can drive improved productivity, boosting profitability. Happier employees tend to feel more free to innovate, take risks, and demonstrate creativity. These can lead to competitive advantage and new paths for business growth.

Motivated employees with higher morale are more likely to offer excellent customer service and align with your company culture. The e-learning initiative can also cut turnover, which supports team stability. Plus, you may see your people encouraging others to join your business, which cuts recruiting costs and helps your overall business reputation. 

Online learning also can save the company money while helping to bring global employees together in a central learning environment. Instead of traveling to one location, everyone can log in simultaneously and get to know one another while developing essential skills.

Build Generative AI skills across your organization

Learn more about Coursera's new Generative Ai (GenAI) for everyone.

Learn more

Supporting e-learning success 

Many organizations offer online learning to their employees. But it takes a strategic, intentional approach to do so well. These best practices for offering online training can help your program succeed.

Make it engaging.

Knowing that everyone learns differently, make sure you offer a virtual learning experience that suits different learning styles and multiple intelligences. Engage employees in the digital learning experience by trying to appeal to styles such as:

  • Visual/spatial learners respond well to watching videos and storytelling.

  • Verbal/linguistic learners like to read and analyze texts or case studies.

  • Logical/mathematical learners want to engage with concepts and interview subject matter experts.

  • Kinesthetic/bodily learners want to interact using their hands or bodies while learning.

Align learning with strategy.

Effective digital training and development should support your business strategy. Look also for ways to enhance company culture and encourage employees to live your mission and values. Communicating how the training connects with business goals and individual career objectives can motivate employees to engage more deeply in their learning. 

Use your tech effectively.

Remember that people will connect using different devices and on various bandwidths. Make your course mobile-friendly and keep images and videos short and compact for easier downloading. Consider accessibility standards, such as an employee with vision impairment having access to audio files of text readings.

Set expectations.

Help employees prepare for the virtual classroom by outlining course content, providing an overview of learning objectives, and describing the instructor’s teaching style. Tell people what types of evaluation to expect and how to communicate with instructors about questions or concerns.

Getting started with Coursera

Coursera provides you with an expansive library of e-learning opportunities. Instead of developing your own content, you can immediately start employees in a virtual learning environment suited to their career path and talent development needs. If you still want to make the training content independently, learn How to Create an Online Course. You can also go into more detail in e-Learning Ecologies: Innovative Approaches to Teaching and Learning for the Digital Age.

Let's talk about making talent your advantage

Connect with our team to learn how you can prepare your business for rapid change.

Learn more

Article sources

  1. Market Research Future. “Corporate E-Learning Market Overview." Accessed November 21, 2023.

Written by Coursera • Updated on

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.