Ever hear the expression, “A bad day fishing (or hunting, or shopping) is better than a good day working?”
My initial thought, when I began to write on this topic, was that good e-learning is better than bad classroom training. But the answer we seek goes a little deeper than that. Let’s look at the possibility that e-learning might replace classroom training, at least in the corporate environment.
There are reasons why not …
Work groups often train together in the classroom because there is a need for all team members to learn a topic, and to maintain a consistent level of knowledge. A lot of this can be achieved by signing the whole staff up for the same e-learning courses, but some companies choose classroom training because it allows more opportunity for team-building.
Also, classroom training is sometimes chosen based on the specific subject matter at hand. In a previous blog post, I referenced a Fortune 500 company that utilized computer-based training for interpersonal skills! Sometimes, we find that moving everything online is simply “a bridge too far.”
…And there are reasons why
Cost is the most commonly cited advantage of e-learning. Not only are the courses less expensive, but there’s no travel required, and it takes less time away from the rest of the work to be done. As companies continue to experience cost-cutting pressures, moving some additional training to e-learning may be a simpler, more palatable change than some other options.
E-learning also allows for specificity of training. Rather than registering for a whole seminar which provides multiple tracks and courses, some of which you don’t need, learners can select just those courses that apply to their specific needs (and just as well, only pay for those courses!).
And once that decision is made, the training can be taken immediately – on-demand and as-needed for maximum effectiveness. No waiting six months for the conference to roll around; no waiting for travel approvals from the boss’s boss; and no uncomfortable moments with the TSA at the airport.
One interesting thing to note: Often, companies choose classroom training because they feel their employees will have more opportunities to learn through practice via role plays and in-class examples. We’ve incorporated these exercises right into selected SalesBasix modules so that no matter where and when you learn, you can still practice what you learn while it’s fresh, and receive personalized feedback from a Subject Matter Expert!
Due to these factors and many more, we can expect that the role of e-learning will only continue to grow over the next several years, and by relation the percentage of training delivered in classrooms will decrease.
Rest assured that classroom training won’t “go away,” though; there will still be an important place for it when the social and/or instructional aspects dictate that it will add value.
Increasingly, those decisions will be made by learners themselves, and that’s perhaps the best news of all.