Organisations that want to encourage further education for their staff are often faced with a difficult decision. Should they commit their budget to physical, face-to-face training or invest in online courses?
The lower cost that online courses represent can be tempting. They also seem to offer more flexibility, participants can complete courses when they want rather than following a rigid physical schedule. Providers also promise that their courses are no different to the physical kind, the same qualification is given at the end. But can online courses truly replace face-to-face training?
Interaction and engagement
The truth is that online courses have never managed to recreate the interaction and engagement of a structured classroom environment. Not only do people benefit from the presence of a trainer, they also learn from their peers who offer their own perspective and understanding of the material.
The personal element of face-to-face training, and the benefit it offers to interaction and engagement, cannot be overstated. Online courses expect a participant to stay engaged for the duration. In face-to-face training, the instructor can recognise when a participant is struggling from their body language and take appropriate steps to re-engage them. Miscommunication and misinterpretation are more common online as it can be difficult to convey emotion in chat or email.
Learning objectives, the KPIs of training programs, are harder to express in online courses because so many of them require the face-to-face aspect to adequately test that they have been achieved. In face-to-face training, the participants demonstrate an understanding of the material through informed discussion. In online courses, instructors do not get a chance to know the participants beyond emails and chat message exchanges. This makes it impossible for them to tell if a participant has truly understood the material.
Therefore, if companies really want their professional development programs to be quality, face-to-face training really does offer the best value. Not only will participants gain a better understanding of the material, they benefit from immediate feedback and the perspectives of their professional peers.
Richmond Wellbeing supports companies that encourage professional development. We believe it is the key to attracting and retaining quality staff. Contact us today on (08) 9350 8800 to find out how we can help you achieve your training goals.