Which is Best Classroom vs Online Training?

eLearning is better than classroom training!

Ok…I’m just being sarcastic. eLearning is actually just different than classroom training. They both have their pros and cons. I want to list a few areas that are positive “pros” for eLearning.

At times you need to train people that are dispersed geographically. They may be in various buildings or working from home. You could send a trainer out to each area or you could have participants come to a central location. There would be considerable travel and time involved.
Online training could help. There would be no need for travel and each participant could save quite a bit of time and take the training in the office/home.

Trainer Resources and Scale
There are times when you have a big system roll-out or maybe even a company merger situation. When large roll-outs occur, do you have enough training resources? Do you have enough time to put a lot of participants through a classroom experience? Do you have trainers who are up-to-speed on the content?
In these situations online training may be able to supplement and/or replace classroom instruction. Online training could help take the load off classroom crowding. These courses can also go out to many users at the same time.

There are certain courses that seem to always be changing. The system is constantly being updated, the policies keep changing, and the product details are a moving target. How will these changes be handled? How will you update material? How will the trainers get the new knowledge? Will you need to retrain those who previously attended the course?
Online content can be changed once from one location. There is no need to get trainers up-to-speed and no need to reprint materials. You could also quickly create a “recent changes” course to send out to previous attendees.

Training facilities are expensive. You may need computer labs, projectors, space, whiteboards, supplies, admins, and more. You also many need multiple building locations.
With online content the user just needs a computer. Now to be fair, there are some eLearning costs that we could consider as “facility”. For example, you need development software and possibly at learning management system (LMS) to launch and track the courses.

There are amazing trainers in the world but they each have their own way to training and they don’t say the exact same this each time. Even trainers from the same company may be teaching different topics. Consistency is a concern with classroom content. If your content must be the same each time, then eLearning is a good choice. The course content and delivery is exactly the same each time.
Does the content and delivery need to be the same each time? Does the content need to be customized for different audiences?

Learning Styles
People learn in many different ways. Some like reading, others listening, and others watching. An online course can offer many different ways of learning. Images, audio, text, animation, case studies, games, etc. can engage learners.

As I said at the beginning of this post, classroom and online training both have their pros and cons. Some content seems to lend itself more towards one or the other. Do your research and choose the method that is best for your project/organization. (or maybe even use both)

What other benefits can you think of? Leave a comment.

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  1. How about the benefit of Endless Learning? An online event can ignite a community of learners that can continue to use the forum to develop robust user-generated content which keeps the learning current and goes beyond the formal delivery.

  2. Good point Dee. We need to figure out ways to keep the learning alive. How can a user move beyond at one-time event and continue learning? I like how you mentioned “a community”. It’s a lot easier to stay motivated when you have a group.

  3. I think the key here is both. Offer both options, face to face and elearning. Accept that some will take one option or the other and that some will like both. But the key concept is do both well. Many mixed mode courses offer an excellent face to face experience but the elearning aspect is poor and vice versa. An example of this type of approach is to have an online learning group who meets physically once a month. This works really well for me.

  4. I think it also depends on learning outcomes and content. A course on How to Design in AutoCAD lends itself better to online learning than a course on Leadership. Although, there are many things that can be done online in a leadership programme as well, such as simulations, and assessments.

  5. What about pyschomotor skills?? Is online learning helpful for that?

  6. eLearning allows to learn independently. It allows lot of teachers who are passionate about teaching, but cannot afford real estate prices or do not want to be part of restricting authorities. eLearning is a great gift to physically challenged both students and teachers. Hit and miss amidst a group in classroom resolved by repeating till understood. Parents often under impression that youth misusing computers, the day will come they realise the social media and eLearning put together encourage learning too.

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