Recently at a round-table discussion about eLearning in the Commercial Lending industry an interesting point surfaced periodically: "Why is classroom training perceived as being more credible than online training?"
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I think that this varies a bit by industry (and commercial banking is not known to be pioneers in the latest technology) but many people believe that classroom training is the "best way". E-Learning is acceptable as a "second-best" option but will not work as well as a classroom session. In fact the only reason why they may "settle" for an online solution is to save time and money.
Why is there this perception?
Here are a few perceptions of Classroom training that might lead someone to think that it's more credible (allow they might not be correct):
- Paying for Flights and Meals: It can get expensive to bring participants into a classroom. Maybe this is seen as a vote of confidence in the classroom because a company is willing to spend money and time to bring employees in. Showing that they are willing to put out $$ may portray to employees that it's important.
- That's how I Learned: Classroom sessions are how most people learned when they got their university degree. Online schools and degrees have not typically the same weight/prestige as traditional universities.
- I'm Present in a Room: Participants are sitting in a room and I can see them. It must be better than them staring at a computer somewhere.
- Yes...They Were There: A trainer can certify that a person actually arrived. Yes they had buns in a seat.
- The Message Was Delivered: Management can ensure that a person stood up and told everyone what needed to be said.
- Comments and Discussions: Participants have the opportunity to personally see and discuss topics with others. They can network and connect faces and names.
- Online Training is Just Reading: Unfortunately some online courses are bad...they just put pages in an interface and let participants read. This was especially true in 5-8 years ago. Some people have never had a good learning experience with a true online course and don't know the potential.
In the early days of eLearning it seemed that the goal was just to recreate the classroom in an electronic format. That is no longer the case. I think that the attempt now is to use the strengths of both. Overall, my round-table discussion ended with a consensus that blended learning could really be the best of both worlds. Both online and classroom have inherent strengths and can complement each other in many ways.
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