Getting a new job or a promotion depends on showing that you have the skills and experience that the role requires. Traditionally, the shortcut to attaining these skills lay in classroom-based training sessions – tutors and students meeting in a certain place, at a certain time.
However, in today’s increasingly busy, globally-focused society, the benefits of this one-to-one teaching approach are often outweighed by time-consuming and costly travel, as well as the need for printed materials which, when produced for an entire class of students, can add up to a significant expense.
Modern, globally-connected, internet-savvy trainees now have a much more cost-effective option – online training.
Online training can be conducted entirely by email and through dedicated websites, completely cutting out travel expenses and environmentally harmful printed materials, whilst allowing students to study in their own time.
But can online training completely replace face-to-face teacher/student interaction? Does it provide the same educational value as a shared, classroom-based learning experience?
Well, first let’s look at the benefits. As we’ve already mentioned, online training can end up being a lot cheaper for small businesses. As it is targeted towards individual learners, employers only need to buy the training they need, as and when they need it. Training courses can also be tailor-made to a business’s needs, and used again and again as new employees enter the business – there’s no need to pay for a dedicated teaching professional every time you need to train up staff members.
So it wins out on cost. It wins out on time too, because training can be conducted at the student’s discretion. What about the educational benefits? Some might argue that the loss of a teacher/student relationship renders online training difficult to grasp and puts less able students at a disadvantage because it is more difficult – or in some cases, impossible – to contact a teacher or expert for additional explanation.
Whilst there is some value to these arguments, the benefits of learning at the student’s own pace – dipping into online training as and when they feel ready, going over subjects that they are having difficulty with – are arguably more valuable than the benefits of a traditional learning environment. After all, a class full of students can only proceed as fast as the learner who takes the longest to learn.
One area in which traditional classroom training does outperform online training is in the variety of courses available. As online training is a comparatively new method of teaching, it’s natural that the courses offered are likely to be less wide-ranging than the courses offered at a college or night school, for example. As learning online becomes more popular, however, the variety of subjects covered is increasing to a point where it may soon rival the scope of traditional training. For the most popular subjects, such as IT courses, a vast selection of online training courses exist.
As with classroom training, there are some online training companies that offer poor quality courses. It’s always advisable to check customer feedback and ask around to make sure that online learning courses are providing good value for money. Generally speaking, however, online training is almost always more cost effective and flexible than long journeys to sit in stuffy classrooms. Learning has now truly entered the digital age.