Employee training comes in many forms today. Whether you choose in-person or online courses, each includes different methods that bring unique benefits to your business. The key to choosing the best training solution for your company is to understand the pros and cons of each.
In 2019, approximately 57% of all students in the United States had access to digital learning tools. Virtual classrooms are becoming more common, which means younger generations are more accustomed to using ed tech. These are the same people who will or already are looking for jobs. It’s something to consider when searching for top talent for your business.
The eLearning market is projected to reach $325 billion in the next four years. Around 77% of U.S. corporations utilized online learning in 2017. IBM reported $200 million in savings after switching to an online learning format.
Those sound like great benefits, but it’s also important to consider what in-person training brings to the corporate table.
Traditional classroom learning presents opportunities for networking and memorable experiences. It helps training classes learn to work together. While you can do some of this through online collaboration tools, there is something to be said for sharing the same space together.
Learning in a physical classroom also creates a controlled environment. Trainers can eliminate the distractions that slow training at home or while sitting at a desk in a busy office.
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the in-person vs. online training debate. The main thing is to consider the needs of your business and employees and choose options that will get the best results.
The Benefits of In-Person Training
As mentioned above, in-person training creates opportunities for direct interaction and experiences. These may be more memorable for learners compared to sitting in front of a computer monitor or tablet.
For professions that involve using your hands, in-person learning may be a better fit. Trainees can get hands-on by interacting with tools, equipment, and materials. They can do so under the watchful eye of a mentor or instructor.
Some learners also struggle with distractions. Family and home situations can make it difficult to work through training sessions. This is especially true for those who are not tech-savvy or who do not have a reliable internet connection at home. Offering in-person training eliminates the potential obstacles that come with connecting to an online classroom.
Even if you provide time for employees to train at work, they can still face distractions. Co-workers may come to them with questions or requests for assistance. They may also feel the pressure of needing to keep up with their daily quota while also training on the clock.
By having classes in one centralized location, you can remove these distractions and create a space dedicated entirely to training.
The Drawbacks of In-Person Training
Two of the biggest drawbacks of in-person training are cost and inflexibility. Learning in a physical classroom requires a higher financial investment. You may have to rent or buy a place to hold classes or take up room in an existing building that could be used for other purposes.
Training that’s held off-site will add travel expenses. You will have to make sure employees can get there by either providing transportation or paying for mileage. College students who commute to college pay an average of $3,400 annually. That’s just one learner going to school.
Your costs will vary based on distance, number of learners, and duration of classes. Even if training courses are short, it’s still another item that must be added to your budget.
There is also a lack of flexibility when it comes to scheduling and attending in-person training. Learners must be there, which means they have to take the time to travel to the class – which eats up more of their day. And if they are already a part of your team, then you will have to schedule training around their working hours which may vary for different employees.
You will also likely pay more to your trainers than you would with online learning. A trainer will have to be present for each class. With online training, you could have one trainer who creates instructional videos and other content for multiple classes that can run simultaneously.
The Benefits of Online Training
Online training has risen in popularity in recent years. This is especially true after last year’s pandemic.
Virtual classes are more flexible. You can allow employees to sign in from anywhere, eliminating travel time. You can even offer self-paced courses that let trainees work when it’s most convenient for them. They can log in 24 hours a day and work through the material at their own pace. It’s not only convenient but can also help support people who learn faster or slower than average.
Online learning costs less than in-person sessions. You don’t have to reserve space or pay for travel. And with improvements made in augmented reality, virtual reality, and simulations, you can recreate a hands-on experience without wasting materials or risking damage to expensive equipment and tools.
Trainees can learn anywhere with most platforms. If you have a good LMS in your training program, then you can offer mobile access. Trainers and trainees can log in from any location. They can train at home, at work, or while running errands, or waiting for an appointment.
A virtual environment ignores geographic borders. Companies that work with people globally or in different regions can provide the same training to everyone. Classrooms can be bigger and include a more diverse group of people. This creates more opportunities for discussion and information sharing when using chat or forums.
The Drawbacks of Online Training
Online training relies heavily on internet access. If you don’t have a reliable internet connection, then you could have problems. Even if your connection is good, there may be the occasional day where something goes wrong, and training may have to be postponed.
Also, keep in mind that all trainees will have to have access to the necessary technology to participate in classes. This may mean supplying a laptop or mobile device.
Many LMS platforms include storage or an option to get storage. That means you shouldn’t have to deal with on-site servers if you don’t want to, which can lower costs. However, if you plan to use technology like virtual reality, then you will need to invest in VR headsets.
You also don’t get the same face-to-face interactions as you do with in-person training. Things have improved with video chat, so it isn’t a complete loss.
And there is always the possibility of distractions when trainees are learning anywhere outside of a physical classroom. To help counter this, your business could provide a set amount of time for employees to go to a quiet place to do their online learning during the workday.
Which Training Will Work for Your Business?
The best training solution for your business depends on your needs. If you don’t have the infrastructure setup like solid internet and computers, then diving into online training right now may not be your best bet. However, you could work towards it by gradually introducing the hardware and more virtual options.
If your business is spread out or your teams have demanding schedules, then online training may be a superior option.
And overall, if you want to lower training costs, then online is usually the best way to go.
You are not required to choose all in-person training or all online classes. Many businesses have found that a hybrid model offers a great balance with many benefits. You can get the perks of each format while choosing what works best for your training classes.
Visit LMS.org to explore learning management systems that will take your training program to the next level.