common objections to online learning

3 Common Objections to Online Learning and What You Should Say

As a smart program manager looking for online training for your staff, you’ve probably started doing your homework.

You may have an idea of what your team needs to learn. If you’re reading this, you’re probably also exploring some options for custom curriculum development or curriculum conversion.

And chances are, if you’re like many people in your shoes, you might even be convinced of exactly what you want to move forward with.

But that doesn’t mean you have support from everyone in your agency.

It’s easy to forget that stakeholders and decision-makers where you work probably haven’t done the same amount of research that you have.

So this means they might not be aware of skills gaps or updated options for training. In some cases, they may feel resistant to change. This can make it hard to earn their support.

Nevertheless, you will need their support if you hope to get budget approval for the online professional development investment you’re interested in.

That’s why we put together some of these pointers that you can use to counter common objections to online learning and get buy-in from managers, supervisors, directors, finance people and others who are in charge of paying for training programs.

Understand Where Their Objections to Online Learning Come From

Skeptics of online learning can have valid objections. For example, when they think about turning a perfectly good program from in-person to computer-based, they are concerned about what it means for your organization.

They wonder how much a new training initiative will cost. So you’ll need to assure them that staff will continue to learn when they’re looking at a computer as opposed to sitting in a meeting room.

On the other hand, skeptics can also have some pretty invalid reasons for throwing up roadblocks. Perhaps they hate computers. Or they fear change. Maybe, for whatever reason, they distrust your enthusiasm.

Whatever the reason, it will help you make your case if you can imagine why they could be hesitant. That way, you can work through possible solutions specifically.

Hybrid learning is here to stay. This e-course covers everything you need to know about how to prepare for a hybrid learning project, from earning buy-in to the must-have elements for successful virtual collaboration. Access it here.

Focus On Training Benefits for Buy-in

You may be positive that an e-learning program is perfect for your organization. But when it’s time to counter objections to your online learning project, it pays to focus on the “why” rather than the “what.”


Benefits make more sense than features. You may be excited about the fact that your learning management system has blogs, easy-to-follow forums and granular tracking and analysis. But most people want to know how that program will solve their problems.

Here are some great examples of some of the biggest features and benefits of remote training to prime your next discussion:

Instead of … “Remote training is self-paced.”

Try: “We can save $20,000 per year by eliminating monthly in-person training sessions.”

Why it’s better: Explain what happens when you allow people to take a remote training program as needed. In practical terms, it might mean that you can save on trainer costs, you don’t have to buy training materials, and you no longer need to block out a certain amount of time for instructor-led training. Figuring out how much money that will save will help you make your case.

Instead of … “Online training serves multiple learning styles.”

Try: “Online training improves retention because the information is presented in various formats.”

Why it’s better: In this case, it makes sense to strike the jargon about learning styles and explain the outcome. If you’re trying to give your staff a new skill set for their jobs, it’s critically important they remember it. That’s much more important to your organization than pedagogical jargon. And it’ll help you counter one of the most common objections to online training — that it’s less effective than in-person.

Instead of … “It’s computer-based.”

Try: “It’s good for the environment. A study found that the production and provision of the distance learning courses consumed nearly 90% less energy and produced 85% fewer CO2 emissions than conventional campus-based university courses.”

Why it’s better: Back up your claim with facts. The fact that your program is computer-based training isn’t much use. But a study like the one here from Britain’s Open University can back your claim about why it’s important. Eventually, your discussions will be broken down into key features and if they’ll work with your organization. In the beginning, however, it helps to think about what kind of effect a new remote training program will have and why.