Just like the rumble in the jungle, that famous boxing match between Mohammed Ali and George Foreman, there's a fight that's been steadily building up for years, and the time has come for its fruition. I like to call it the scuffle in the suburbs, the slap-fest in the city, the kerfuffle in the corridor.
“In the red corner we have Classroom Training, the seasoned professional eager to defend his honour and retain his title; but are his best years gone? Is it time for him to retire?
In the blue corner we have the talented youngster, Online Training otherwise known as e-Learning! He's proven himself faster, fitter and more efficient than his aging opponent, but is he as effective? Does his punch pack power or is it just a fancy fickle fad?
And here's your referee, Blended Training!”
Far too often, Online and Offline training are cast as enemies, seeking contrasting goals and doomed to mutual hatred forever. Practitioners in both worlds regularly shoot caustic remarks and shady looks at each other, much like title rivals in a pre-match press conference. While this may make for entertaining viewing, it’s not a great approach for the training industry generally or for companies and training professionals in particular. The truth is that these two types of training can and should work together.
E-learning and classroom training are not mutually exclusive. It doesn’t have to be a case of selecting one over the other, with one of them inevitably losing. Not only can they coexist, but together they can cause trainers, their trainees and their companies to flourish. So how does e-learning benefit classroom training and training professionals?
One of the main ways in which e-Learning helps is by making it easier for the trainer to follow best practice.
Active training forces the learner to be involved and prepares them for real life situations in which these skills and knowledge will be vital. It is now generally accepted that, in order for training to be effective, the participants need to be engaged and involved in the learning rather than be spectators and listeners.
When conducting training in a classroom, there are normally only a few individuals who participate and speak up, and the rest of the class stays relatively passive. Getting more people involved can be like hitting your head against a brick wall.
Online training enables us to ensure that every trainee is playing an active role in their learning by making it necessary for them complete certain interactions, games and activities in order to acquire the skills that they need (see here and here for more info). The trainer doesn’t have to cajole, prompt or encourage their trainees because if the user doesn’t participate, they simply don’t complete the training.
VARK is an acronym representing four cognitive learning styles: Visual, Audio, Reading/Writing and Kinaesthetic. The theory goes that visual learners learn best with images, diagrams etc. Audio learners respond best to speech and talking. Reading/writing learners retain information the best from text in any format. Kinaesthetic learners acquire more skills and information through practical exercises, case studies and the like (see here for more information about VARK). Of course, people are multimodal and learn in more than one way, (even if you’re not a fan of learning styles, there’s a tonne of empirical evidence that shows that the relevant integration of graphics, audio, video and practical activities improves retention in training).
With e-learning, it’s easy to include visual, audio, practical activities and text in a module to ensure that all learners are stimulated, whereas in a classroom setting it requires a lot of planning and resources in order to accomplish the same.
Practical Benefits to Training Professionals
E-Learning also has some very practical benefits to trainers.
It saves you money
Because e-learning can be accessed from anywhere at any time it saves a lot of money. This means that the money that you save on travel, venues, food, accommodation and other things can instead be spent on courses and other initiatives that you’ve never previously had enough money for. This is beneficial for the company but also beneficial for you as it gives you the financial breathing room needed to really innovate.
It saves you time
The time that you save by not travelling can be spent on developing new courses or implementing other strategies that you’ve never had time for. This also means fewer evenings and weekends away from family, friends and Netflix.
Easily track progress
Online training enables trainers to easily track and monitor the progress of the users in incredible detail, making it easy to see how well trainees are getting to grips with the new skills and information.
No Squeezing Required
A common complaint amongst training professionals is that they have to squeeze a full course of content into one weekend. This is stressful and can compromise the quality of the training, as the emphasis becomes squeezing in as much of the content as possible rather than ensuring quality acquisition of the desired skills. With e-learning you can take a Blended approach whereby the trainees arrive at a classroom session having already completed a module online. This means that they arrive at the classroom session ready to jump straight in with some practical exercises, group work and discussion. This maximises the trainer’s time and creates very effective learning.
E-Learning can electrify training and training professionals by helping you do more with less. More freedom, more quality, less time, less money.