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The Positives and Challenges with Self-Paced Employee Learning

The Positives and Challenges with Self-Paced Employee Learning

In recent years, more and more employees have been learning new skills and staying up-to-date on company policies and procedures through self-paced learning or e-learning programs. However, there are several challenges that both training buyers and users face when it comes to using these programs effectively. In this article, we will explore some of those issues.

What is Self-Paced Learning for Businesses?

Self-paced learning is an e-learning program that allows employees to learn new skills and stay up-to-date on company policies and procedures at their own pace. It is a great way for busy professionals to continue their education without having to find the time to attend traditional, in-person training sessions.

Why Do Businesses Use Self-Paced Learning Methods? (a.k.a the “Positives”)

Organizations often find it difficult to discern between self-paced learning and classroom/virtual training. There are many misconceptions about the effectiveness of self-paced learning, but in truth, it can be a much more enriching experience.

👍It Is Convenient

Self-paced learning is flexible and allows employees to attend training programs at their convenience, which in turn encourages more employees to complete the program.

👍Cost Effective

In the case of classroom training, costs such as fees for instructors, venue expenses, and technology expenditures must be considered. In contrast, self-paced learning does not entail any of these expenditures, making it extremely cost-efficient.

👍Suited for Different Learning Styles

Self-paced learning is appropriate for everyone. Those who want to complete a course quickly do not have to wait for others; instead, they may do it at their own pace.

👍Improves Ownership

Self-paced learning requires employees to take initiative in their education, which leads to increased motivation and time management skills.

As rosy a picture as self-paced learning creates, there are still some issues and challenges that need to be overcome-- both in terms of the actual education and the learning environment.

Common Challenges with Self-Paced Employee Learning

Whether you've recently gone online, are considering it, or have just started using a new LMS, one thing is certain: technological advancements might make or break your training program.

Remote learning provides an elegant method for delivering high-quality training. The difficulties of online education, however, may sometimes prevent employees from putting it into practice.

E-learning has many advantages, but there are a few potential problems that employers and employees should be aware of. Here are the most common obstacles, along with some suggestions for how to overcome them.

Technical Issues 👎

The use of technology in self-paced learning can be a double-edged sword. While technological advancements have made it easier than ever to access high-quality training programs, they have also created new challenges.

One of the most common issues is technical difficulties. Employees may have trouble logging into the system, accessing the materials, or completing the exercises. These problems can be frustrating and may cause employees to give up on the program altogether.

To avoid these issues, it is important to make sure that you have a reliable internet connection and that you are using compatible devices. In addition, you should contact customer support if you experience any problems.

Lack of Interaction 👎

Another common issue with self-paced learning is the lack of interaction. When you are learning online, you do not have the opportunity to ask questions or get feedback from a live instructor. This can make it difficult to understand the material and may lead to frustration.

To overcome this challenge, the participant should try to find ways to interact with other employees or instructors. For example, join an online forum or chat room, participate in a discussion group, or attend a live webinar.

In addition, opportunities to give feedback on progress should be included and taken advantage of. For instance, opportunities to submit assignments for review or take practice quizzes.


There are a number of potential distractions, such as email, deadlines, social media, and home-related interruptions. These distractions can hinder focus on learning the material and may lead to a lower quality of learning.

To avoid getting distracted, a dedicated space for learning should be created. This area should be free from any potential distractions, such as televisions, phones, and other devices. In addition, specific times for learning should be set aside and stuck to (!!) as much as possible.

Poor Digital Literacy 👎

One of the challenges of online education is that it requires a certain level of digital literacy. Employees who are not comfortable using computers or other devices may have difficulty accessing the materials and completing the exercises.

To overcome this challenge, employees should take some time to familiarize themselves with their basic computer set up. In addition, customer or IT support should be made available to help solve any issues quickly.

Lack of Structure👎

For some employees, one of the challenges of online education is the lack of structure. Without set deadlines or scheduled class times, it can be easy to procrastinate or get pulled in different directions. This can lead to participants falling behind in their learning.

To avoid this issue, employees should be encouraged to create a schedule or set aside uninterrupted learning time. In addition, setting deadlines are also a good tactic to ensure the material is completed.


Another challenge that employees face is staying motivated throughout the program. Self-paced learning requires a great deal of discipline and can be easy to procrastinate.

To stay on track, employees should set realistic goals and create a study schedule. A reward system for completing each task is also a helpful way to stay motivated. For example, an employee might give themselves a break after finishing a section of the course or treat themselves to a lunch out upon reaching their goal.

Time Management👎

Self-paced learning can be time-consuming, especially if working on a tight deadline for completion. Without a meeting on the calendar to announce to employees and others that the time is occupied, it is easy to allow that time to get filled up by other things. 

To manage your time effectively, it is helpful to block out time in your calendar as a signal to both you and others that you are “busy.”

The challenges that both training buyers and users face when it comes to self-paced learning programs are many but surmountable. Training can help.

Last updated: 07 Nov 2022
Picture of Jeanne H.
Jeanne H.
Guest Author

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