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Pros and cons of classroom trainings vs online trainings

Online trainings are getting more and more popular. But are they as good as classic in-class trainings? The answer is not a simple “yes” or “no”.

It actually depends on quite a lot of factors. For example the type of materials used in the training. The goals, the content. Even the preferences of the participants. You have to take into account a few things in order to make sure you are making the right choice.

While it may seem challenging, it is not that difficult. Sadly, this is something most companies don’t really think about when they look for a training. For them a training is a training and what’s matter is that the participants attain the necessary skills.

For this to happen though, you have to pay attention to the small details. We’ve already talked about how to plant the seeds for a successful training even before it starts. Now it is time to see how to pick the right format of the training. For now we are going to focus on the two major options: classic classroom training or online training.

Pros of classroom trainings
  • the trainer is on hand to help with additional questions
  • also the trainer can give personal attention to each participant
  • the trainer has visual feedback of the participants and can adapt his or hers approach to improve results
  • the participants are not easily distracted by outside interferences (browsing social media, watching videos, chatting and so on)
Pros of online trainings
  • the content can be easily split into short modules
  • participants can spread the content and learn it at their own pace (for recorded trainings only)
  • the content can be more interactive and gamified
  • people can attend the training from everywhere
  • no need to book classrooms
  • no need to cover travel costs
Cons of classroom trainings
  • they can feel prolonged and boring. Not everyone loved school, you know.
  • you need to book a hall (some providers and CourseDot help you with the entire setting up of the training)
  • you have to cover travel expenses if you send employees elsewhere
  • additional content is often not really interactive
  • it feels a lot like school even though you are supposedly learning about top new technologies
Cons of online trainings
  • the trainer has little to no feedback from the participants as he or she can’t see them
  • the trainer can’t pay personal attention to each participant (via email and chat, but sometimes that’s not enough)
  • self-pacing can lead to prolonging of the course for some lazier participants or those who can’t manage their time all that well
  • you lack the opportunity to use a training with travelling for team building
How to pick the right one

So, how to use the information above for you decision? First clear your goals. Is this a training on something entirely new for you company? Or is it something that is already well known and you are only building up on it? For the former an in-class training might be a better choice while for the latter, an online course should be sufficient.

Also, know the audience. Ask the participants whether they prefer one type of training or the other. Then, see if it is offered in the given format (this depends on the provider).

Still can’t decide? Maybe mix them both? Some trainings can benefit from having a bit of both worlds. You can have a classic in-class training and then build on it with online content and lessons. This way you could get the best of both worlds. Again, it depends on what your main goal is and the preferences of the participants. Knowing these two factors will make the rest of the process much easier.

Image credit: Flickr (CC) / Elvert Barnes