zandax online course logo
 
 
 
 
zandax 10 year anniversary
 
 
 
 
 
 
Home   >  ZandaX Blogs   >  Management Blog   >  Training and Coaching Articles   > 
Online Training: Skills Improvement or Just Ticking Boxes?

Online Training: Skills Improvement or Just Ticking Boxes?

 
Becoming a better trainer and coach
The advantages and disadvantages of online and tutor-led training and what you should consider before enrolling your staff in an online course.
 
Article author: Steve
      Written by Steve
       (7-minute read)
It's a tempting proposition, with groups of staff who need training, to simply enrol them in an online course. Costs are lower, scheduling can sometimes be more flexible, and there is likely to be less time away from the office.
Online Tutorial
But have you stopped to consider whether this is the best option? Although it is easy to see why many companies are choosing online training as part of their mix in these hard-pressed financial times, the reality of the experience can sometimes be something of a disappointment.

In this brief article I'd like to take a closer look at online and instructor-led training methods, and consider whether cost-saving opportunities equal effective training outcomes... or not.

Advantages of Online Training

There are several major points in favour of online training. For instance, if a large corporation needs to certify a thousand trainees in a generic or basic skill, then an online training course is likely to be preferable to sending them all on day's external training. Think of the savings in cost and man-management. (NOTE: let's hope that learning the skill online fully equips them to use it in real-life, especially if we are talking about something like First Aid...)

Edexcel describe online training as ‘a very cost-effective way to train a group. Train a whole department with one login'. Cost is often cited as one of the main benefits to choosing online training over instructor-led training. Online systems for training dramatically reduce the venue hire, travel and catering costs that come with organising instructor-led training, yet at the same time increase employee productivity. Trainees can complete their work at their desk or from home, without having to fly, drive or commute to another place.

And looking at the debate from the point of view of the delegate, online courses offer a flexibility that may suit some learners better. Courses can be accessed from wherever they feel more comfortable, for instance, and courses can be completed in their own time.

Online training also removes any time or physical barriers to learning, so a corporation with employees all over the world can provide access to the same content online.

Another aspect of this quality of online training is that it is generally considered to be far less disruptive. Employees are able to carry on with their daily tasks of emailing, answering the phone and generally being present in the office, logging in and out of their training course whenever possible.

And whereas the quality of the delivery and sometimes the content of an instructor-led course will be determined by the skill and expertise of the instructor, online courses guarantee consistency in content and delivery, wherever and whenever the course is attended. A course can be developed, perfected and honed, then delivered to ten thousand people.

Disadvantages of Online Training

There is no doubt that online training is an essential and growing part of modern learning - and this trend accelerated during and after the covid pandemic in 2020-2022. But engaging in a headlong rush towards full implementation of an "online only" training regime is extremely inadvisable without considering the drawbacks.

1. Cut Costs

Without doubt, the costs of online training are low, but be careful or your lower costs will be balanced by a lack of results, and you'll not only waste your time, but fail to get the skills improvements you need.

Lack of Results

2. Maintaining Interest

The lack of proper human contact will inevitably result in a loss of engagement.  Online training, if it's not engaging, can easily become just reading or observing... perfect conditions for a wandering mind.

3. Maintaining Energy

Staring intently at a computer screen while taking in new knowledge for more than an hour is tiring, and for more than an hour can be exhausting. So training should only be undertaken in "bite sized" sessions of an hour or less.

4. Depth of Knowledge

Without the physical encouragement of people around you, questions won't get asked and knowledge won't be expanded in the same way as if you are in a physical group of people.

5. Maintaining Focus

If you're sitting at your own PC, it's just another workday.  A frequent complaint when sports fixtures are shown online is that it's "just like being at work!"  As a result, people often flip across to check their emails while the match is playing.  If it's like this with a football game, for an online course you can multiply the effect many times over.

To combat the problems of fatigue and focus, online training is often delivered in small bursts, each of which focus on one specific skill. But this can still fail to properly take into account how individual skills fit into the wider context of the subject, or even the workplace. Additionally, without vital human conversation and interaction during training, a person can learn an entire body of knowledge without knowing how to apply any of it to real-life situations.
Again, the lesson here is that online content needs to be engaging.

Advantages of Instructor-Led Training

Traditionally, the most effective method of training has been classroom based instructor-led training, where individuals learn in a face-to-face context.

When we consider instructor-led training, we see at once that it is a flexible means of delivering information. Bob Pike, writing in Training magazine, states that ‘caring, connection, and context cannot always be conveyed through an online or distance medium'. It is true that the advantage held by instructor-led training is that real-time feedback is always available to learners. Similarly, the instructor can pick up non-verbal signals from attendees to gauge their true level of understanding.

A good instructor will often adapt the content and or delivery of the course so that it suits the needs of the delegates, and this will often happen in real time as the day progresses. At the same time, learners can use the instructor as a source of knowledge and experience of the subject, and face-to-face discussion between instructor and student (and between students) increases retention of information on the subject, which is of course the ultimate aim of the course.

Humans are gregarious creatures who respond well to interaction with others, and another argument for instructor-led training is that learning something new alongside other people is a far more fulfilling way to learn that sitting alone in front of a screen. Modern training providers give practical, exciting and interactive training sessions which prove memorable and productive experiences to all those who attend.
Nick van Dam, writing for ASTD, states:
'Taking people out of the office and providing them with development time in a safe environment enables them to experiment with new ideas and concepts, practice skills in simulations, develop solutions for existing business issues, reflect on their performance and that of their team, and turn their learning into new behaviors and actions
.'

In summary, instructor led training is the most motivational and productive way of acquiring skills.  Once you start to remove the direct interaction of classrooms, you compromise this ability to deliver results.

Disadvantages of Instructor-Led Training

The physical cost of the training isn't always the biggest cost, because the  disruption and inconvenience of having people away from their workplace create a hidden cost that's hard to define. Managing delegates' work during their absence can be a problem, but you don't want to destroy the heightened post-course motivation of an employee by landing them with a backlog of work when they get back to the office!

Too Much Work

Variability of delivery is sometimes quoted as a big problem with classroom training, and this makes the potential benefits difficult to quantify.

Conclusion: It's What Suits You

So, although the idea of migrating your training online sounds exciting at first, and certainly appeals to the emotions, several practical issues limit its likely effectiveness.  But on the other hand, to dismiss it altogether would be to miss an opportunity.

There are great advantages for using instructor-led classroom training as the core of any skills improvement program. Learning is wider and deeper, and knowledge retention is greater because the experience is enjoyable, because the demands and distractions of their offices are left behind, and there is the opportunity to interact personally with the trainer and peers. Additionally, employees tend to feel valued when they are sent on training courses (not just "plugged in online") and are likely to be more motivated to use and develop their skills as a result.

However, online training provides a flexible and much more affordable alternative that reduces "out of office" time and enables people to learn in their own time.  It may not compete with the best classroom training in the quality of the results it gives, but its consistency and reliability are often of greater importance.

Make your choice!

The solution you choose will depend on the nature, culture and needs of your organization, so take a short time to think.  If you operate in a small or medium sized business, where training needs are fulfilled infrequently or on an ad hoc basis, there is nothing easier than booking your staff on to an external "public" class, or arranging for a group of employees to be trained together in-house for a one-off exercise.  But if you have continuing training needs, you may feel that arranging classroom training for core skills (whether Microsoft Office or improving the results of your sales team) is too much of a drain on your budget.

ZandaX's Use of the Web

We put online training at the core of everything we do.  We are a quality-led operation that takes pride in getting results for our clients. We are passionate about this (you get the point...)

As such, we use the Web to support what we deliver. Just one example of how we help wherever we can, visit our Development Tests page, where you can carry out your own free tests on time management, communication skills, and so on. We also have a YouTube channel where we have a library of course previews.


Our service team is second to none, and customer queries are usually dealt within a couple of hours.

For more information about business skills training courses, click here. If you enjoyed this article, make sure to read the previous post in the series, Online Training: What Are the Options?.

More Articles on Training And Coaching

How to Become a Better Trainer: What Tactics Can You Employ?
How to Become a Better Trainer: What Tactics Can You Employ?
Ashley Andrews
Author: Ashley Andrews
About the article
Summary
This article specifically looks at how full time trainers can still look to improve their abilities, and make them even better trainers.
[ close ]
5 Teaching Strategies for Effective Learning
5 Teaching Strategies for Effective Learning
Riley Mitchell
Author: Riley Mitchell
About the article
Summary
Hours of lectures can be boring to students at any age! So here we give some effective strategies to make learning more fun - and effective.
[ close ]
Online Training: What Are the Choices?
Online Training: What Are the Choices?
Steve
Author: Steve
About the article
Summary
An overview of the different online training options available to help you choose the one best suited for you and your employees.
[ close ]
What is the Optimal Class Size for Training?
What is the Optimal Class Size for Training?
John B
Author: John B
About the article
Summary
When booking a training course, what class size is going to obtain the best results? Find out what Activia would recommend in today's article.
[ close ]
8 Disadvantages of e-Learning
8 Disadvantages of e-Learning
Jordan James
Author: Jordan James
About the article
Summary
Read the ZandaX guide on 8 disadvantages of e-learning: why online learning may not always be the best option for you or your business.
[ close ]
Why e-Learning May Not Be All It's Cracked Up to Be
Why e-Learning May Not Be All It's Cracked Up to Be
Steve
Author: Steve
About the article
Summary
Activia's Steve Warren talks about the differences between e-learning and classroom-based training and why the former fails to deliver.
[ close ]
What is the Purpose of a Trainer?
What is the Purpose of a Trainer?
Jordan James
Author: Jordan James
About the article
Summary
What is the purpose of a trainer and how can training help your organisation? Find out on the Activia Training website.
[ close ]
Who Benefits From Courses Like Finance For Non Finance Managers?
Who Benefits From Courses Like Finance For Non Finance Managers?
Steve
Author: Steve
About the article
Summary
What type of people benefit from courses like Finance for non-finance managers? If you are in finance, rather do proper finance courses.
[ close ]
Are You A Good Coach?
Are You A Good Coach?
Steve
Author: Steve
About the article
Summary
Are you in a position that coaches others, or about to become a coach? Tips on what is essential to being a good coach, and being coached too
[ close ]
The Best Training Courses Every Start-up Entrepreneur Should Attend
The Best Training Courses Every Start-up Entrepreneur Should Attend
Steve
Author: Steve
About the article
Summary
[ close ]
Train the Trainer Courses Benefit You at Any Stage of Your Career
Train the Trainer Courses Benefit You at Any Stage of Your Career
Steve
Author: Steve
About the article
Summary
Train the Trainer does actually benefit trainers in many different ways. For novice to experienced, one particular course is very helpful.
[ close ]
12 Advantages of E-Learning
12 Advantages of E-Learning
Ashley Andrews
Author: Ashley Andrews
About the article
Summary
Here are 12 specific advantages that e-learning offers to those who adopt it, including details on savings on cost and flexibility.
[ close ]
 

Write for us on the ZandaX blog

We're always looking for guest contributors to increase the variety and diversity of what we present.

Click to see how you can write for us:

 

The ZandaX Leadership & Management blog categories

Click a panel to visit the main category pages for the blog
Management - Self Development
Management - Self Development
IT and Security
IT and Security
Leadership & Team Management
Leadership & Team Management
Project Management
Project Management
Human Resources
Human Resources
Training & Coaching
Training & Coaching

ZandaX Blog Contents

Want to see them all? Click to view a full list of articles in our blogs.

 
zandax online courses logo
"ZandaX courses are such great value, and with the help and support they give, there's no better option in the market"
ZandaX LinkedIn logo
ZandaX YouTube logo
ZandaX FaceBook logo
Course Categories
 
All content © ZandaX 2024