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You’ll be pleased to know, for once, the debate isn’t my favourite subject of all - ‘Disbursement -v- Recharge’ but the debate of ‘Face-to-Face -v- Online’ learning.

Online training has been around for many, many years and is already widely used as the chosen workplace training platform for many businesses and this is increasing. Digitisation and personalisation add massive value to learning experience, along with the introduction of intuitive tools that provide data driven analysis for evaluating learning outcomes.

We know that e-learning is comparatively cheaper than face-to-face training, also presenting more flexibility—and reliability—to the learner. The best of breed online courses are rich, effective learning experiences.

Is an online training experience the best?

Face-to-face or classroom style learning is preferable with some subjects that require more of a mixed learning approach. Firstly, let’s look at the pros and cons of each format.

E-learning – What are the Pros?

Aside from the obvious benefits such as less cost, online learning can be taken anywhere, at any time (even down the pub – although I don’t recommend it!) and only requires an internet connection. Many courses are now also mobile/tablet friendly and combine text, images, video etc to create a rich and very unique experience for the learner. The learning can reach many individuals and locations.

Blended learning is a mix of both online and face-to-face, using ‘virtual classrooms’, ‘breakout rooms’, ‘interactive polls’, ‘quizzes’ and ‘discussion forums’. The trainer is usually visible and can interact live with delegates - just as you would in a traditional face-to-face session. This style of learning has proved to be highly effective for knowledge transfer as it’s a great way to reinforce new information.

Credentialing is a form of recognised training certification that validates the course quality and provides recognition of that learning. It may also provide endorsement from professional bodies and credentialing is a popular way of demonstrating learning progress across social profiles, such as LinkedIn.

E-learning – What are the Cons?

At present, the majority of training providers are offering online training services, under the guise of webinars – some live, some pre-recorded. The live mainly consisting of the trainer talking with little or no engagement with the delegate – this is a common perception as to what a webinar is. This can feel very lonely and isolated. It requires strong, self-motivation and time management skills. The learner’s mood is exceptionally difficult for the trainer to read – a good trainer will read body language within the room. Also, if you have a technical issue, then accessing the online learning resources can become difficult. Where there is no accreditation, the quality of the course content can come into question.

Face-to-face training – What are the Pros

Individuals have the opportunity to connect with, problem-solve, and network with others from a wide range of backgrounds that online environments usually can’t replicate. Direct interaction with the trainer is also beneficial. You may also feel more comfortable and learn more easily in a familiar, traditional classroom situation.

Cons of face-to-face training

It’s expensive and time consuming. Online training can be recorded and viewed over and over again, whereas face-to-face training is delivered and the learner is left to rely on their memory and notes. A classroom setting can also stifle learning by allowing dominant personalities to take the bulk of the discussion environments. Quieter individuals become limited in their communication options for exchanging ideas and information.

So, who wins?

Difficult question as this really has been a contentious topic for employers and employees over the years. This time, albeit a global life-threatening virus has forced the issue, I believe there is a clear winner and the answer is not going to be what you think…

As seen from the above, people learn differently. There are both advantages and disadvantages to all types of learning formats. However, in our experience, a combination of online and classroom learning to convey subject matter to individuals is the way forward.

As employers, you should ask yourself:

  • What's your learner profile? Who are they, what are they like, what do they like?
  • What are the objectives for the learning - what change in behaviour should the learning achieve?

What format does the ILFM use for online training?

All of our online training is live and interactive, enabling you to liaise and pose questions to our experienced trainers during the session. We use a blended approach to online training by combining face-to-face with e-learning. We use technology to bridge the gap by the use of interactive polls, breakout rooms, replay options and post session quizzes that require a minimum pass rate to ensure the learner has fully digested and understood what has been taught to them.

As we enter phase two of the pandemic, firms carrying out their compliance and training plans are likely to make significant changes to protect their staff. Whilst many of us have been readjusting to working in isolation due to COVID-19, the entire online learning landscape has transformed itself and is continuing to evolve. Old traditions are being left behind. This is a positive thing. It is a perfect opportunity to embrace change and new ways of learning.

What our attendees have said

“I was impressed with the webinar on Disbursements/Recharges and found it very informative and have watched different parts of it a few times. It has been so helpful to be able to replay it a few times.  I watched it with the partners and we kept pausing it, so we could discuss and make notes on different points!" Jane Woodhouse, Marshalls Solicitors - February 2020

"Brilliant training. Really clear and covered everything in a way I could understand and follow. For me online training is ideal as I don't have to travel and also as a newbie, I feel a bit intimidated going on some courses" Debbie Bates

“It was invaluable and so easy and convenient for me to join.  I will definitely take up on these sessions again." Sally Murphy, LOGOS

If you’d like to discuss your training strategy, we’d welcome the opportunity to discuss your needs, challenges and solutions.

Darren Whelan. Director of Education & Development, ILFM


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