Kamy Anderson, an expert in learning management system and e-learning authoring tools, currently associated with ProProfs, explores the differences between face to face and online training
Online training has developed immensely compared to its humble beginnings. A long time ago, it was considered to have poor outcomes when it comes to acquiring knowledge and skills and the learning materials weren’t actually embraced by participants. Luckily, the situation has now changed.
Nowadays, online training uses a set of carefully designed courses to cater to each learner’s different learning styles and there are many software tools such as Learning Management System (LMS) software or e-learning software which contribute to the satisfaction of both learners and their trainers.
However, traditional face to face training shouldn’t be overlooked just yet. Not all students are fans of the online learning environment and some subjects are just not so practical for self-guided learning. So, what to choose? Read on to discover the benefits of both of these approaches and determine what suits you most.
The benefits of online training
Great flexibility – Learners can choose the time and place where they want to take their lessons and are not strictly bound to a schedule. This type of training offers a number of various teaching methods which include audio, text-based or visual examples and explanations. Students can study and review their materials as many times as they wish, which is impossible in a regular face to face environment.
Affordability – Online courses are, in most cases, less expensive than face to face. Once the materials are paid for, they can be used over and over again without a requirement for paying a trainer. It is no longer needed to spend ridiculous amounts of time on organising
classes or forcing employees to attend them at times inappropriate for them. Platforms such as cloud-based LMS or e-learning software are completely automated and self-directed so that the time spent on administering learning activities can be decreased significantly.
Effectiveness – Large businesses can benefit from the scalability of online training to a large base of employees across multiple locations. This type of training is especially useful for compliance training as it reduces the time spent on identifying and addressing gaps as soon as they are detected. Modular online courses allow your employees to access the materials quickly whenever they need to advance their skills in a certain area, which provides your company with more capacity to focus on new opportunities.
Consistency – Online learning ensures that all materials of a course have been covered by each and every learner. Traditional methods most often fail to do so since different trainers use different teaching styles which are not appropriate for everyone and that can lead to inconsistent outcomes.
Analytics – Exercises in online materials allow for a quick gathering of students’ data so that trainers can use them effectively to track their progress and to make any changes in the design of the course, if necessary. Moreover, they allow for detailed feedback to be provided in order to reveal which areas need to be developed further.
Benefits of face to face training
Direct responsiveness – One of the greatest benefits of face to face training is that it enables the instructor to evaluate their students in real time. Instructors can see how attentive a student is, how engaged he or she is with the studying materials and how well they understand it. With this in mind, teachers can easily adjust the pace of the lesson so as to help their students learn more effectively.
Collaborative environment – Besides strengthening interpersonal relationships between individuals, team learning provides an engaging environment for people which provides a much wider studying outcome as team members can approach the material they are studying from different perspectives. This method of learning also gives way to discussion and debate among learners which promotes the effective acquisition of new skills and knowledge.
What’s the ideal pick?
Clearly, both methods of teaching have their individual benefits and flaws and neither is perfect. When it comes to learning, a combination of different approaches and methods work best, but neither of these alone can promise to provide optimal results.
Online learning is a great tool for someone who has a strong sense of self-discipline and is able to study without the assistance of others, but for someone without these skills, it is mostly useless as they might find it hard to motivate themselves to actually sit down and study.
Other than being affected by the skills and preferences of learners, teaching methods also get affected by the area being studied. For example, certain soft-skills like business storytelling or conflict management would do much better in a collaborative environment since nonverbal communication can often be a very important element of the subject at hand.
The bottom line
As we have already stated above, a combination of both methods has the best chances of achieving good results, as both of these methods alone can perform poorly if utilised alone. As for how much of each should be used, that depends on the subject being studied and the comfort level of the people you need to be trained.
When it comes to policies, standards and any other form of regulatory compliance training, online teaching has shown to have great results while face to face teaching provides great results for studying abstract topics and soft skills. Because of this, the so-called “hybrid” teaching methods are considered to have the best results in universities, workplaces and schools alike.
All of this gave way to the development of platforms for learning management that take the best out of both methods to enable scheduling, administration and analysis of this hybrid learning campaigns’ effectiveness. These platforms can help bridge the gap between face to face and online learning, which enables people to make better decisions about which and how much of each method they should utilise.
Kamy Anderson is an ed-tech enthusiast with a passion for writing on emerging technologies in the areas of corporate training and education. He is an expert in learning management system & e-learning authoring tools – currently associated with ProProfs.