We are looking at conducting some employee training. What are the merits of online training vs. live, in-person training?
We’ve been hearing this question a lot as companies struggle with managing their budgets to get the most value for their employee training. Online learning, also called e-learning, is often seen as being more economical, but is it as effective as a class attended in person? In HR speak, the answer is “it depends.” Online training can be more convenient in that it eliminates the need for travel, even locally. Participants can complete training without leaving the premises. Online learning can be done “on demand” at the convenience of the trainee. Participants can also revisit a module or section of the training if review is needed. This type of training can also allow for smaller segments to be completed at a time to allow the participant to stay focused.
Alternately, in-person training allows for more interaction. If an individual is struggling to understand a concept, in-person training allows for that person to more easily ask questions and get responses to ensure understanding. In-person training also allows the instructor to incorporate role-playing and other exercises to solidify concepts. Physical interaction remains the best way to learn, communicate, and develop memories. There is value in the collective interaction among fellow students. Personal interaction with fellow students allows the opportunity to gain insights and perspectives. Face-to-face trainings allow for the experience to be not only heard, but also to be experienced with all senses and emotions.
An alternate employee training option is a blend of several types of training. A program that includes some learning via webinar (or e-learning) combined with live training can achieve some of the benefits of both options.
Things to consider when selecting training:
Individual learning preferences
Topic and structure of the training class
The technological savviness of the individuals? Are they comfortable using technology?
Size of the group
For any type of training, some key elements for success include:
Ensuring that the leadership of the organization and the direct management are committed to employee training. This means allowing the employee time to complete the training undisturbed (whether done in person or electronically).
Managers following up with the employees and reinforcing the concepts learned to ensure that the concepts are applied and retained.
The article “Online Vs. In-Class Success” gives additional resources, information, and helpful tips when determining the “right” training delivery method.
Strategic Human Resources, Inc., is a national full-service HR management firm based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Its president and founder, Robin Throckmorton, can be reached at Robin@strategichrinc.com.
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