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Face-to-Face training vs online learning: Which is right for you?

face-to-face training or online learningFace-to-face training has worked well for years, so why on earth would you try anything else? If you’re looking into your training options, you might have been tempted by the benefits of online learning, but which is right for you? 

In this article, we’ll look at three simple questions to help you narrow it down…

So, you’re trying to put together an effective training and development plan that will give your employees the skills they need, secure a return on your training investment and encourage behavioural change throughout your organisation.

If you’re torn between face-to-face training and online learning, our quick guide to picking a training programme can help to set you on the path to training and development stardom and secure you status in your organisation as a Learning Legend!

1. How many people do you need to train?

If you only have a few employees to train in the latest sales techniques or compliance with regulations, a face-to-face training programme might work well. You can get it over within one day, field any questions from the employees there and then, and send them on their way with a certificate.

epic meaningOn the other hand, if you need to train the entire workforce, then classroom training isn’t the most efficient and effective method. Let’s suppose you want to train 2,000 salespeople:

How much will the conference hall cost?

How long will the training take?

How many trainers will you need to employ?

How much revenue will you lose from all those employees?

How much will it cost you in travel and food expenses?

If you’ve got a lot of employees to train, online learning makes the most sense. You can auto-enrol all 2,000 – or 20, or 200,000 – employees onto the learning management system. They can take the training online in their own time and at their own speed. This negates the costs of travel, food, trainers, venues, missed sales and any other associated costs.

2. Is it one-off training or will others be required to take it in future?

If you can be sure that the training you need to deliver is unique and one-off, and you’re not bothered by the other associated costs, then, by all means, give it a go in a face-to-face training setting.

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But if there’s a chance you’ll need to train others on the same topics when you take on new staff or once other employees reach the same point in their careers. In this case, online learning has substantial benefits.

Firstly, it’s accessible whenever your learners need it and they don’t need to book a train and take a day off work to do it.

If you take your online learning a step further, you can also unlock all kinds of social learning options. In this way, you can create dynamic, organic content that grows as more people add to it – something that would be tricky to pull off in a single face-to-face training session.

This puts to bed the argument that online learning is a lonely and solitary affair. With the right social learning features enabled, your online learning platform can be as friendly as, if not more friendly than any face-to-face training.

3. What’s your training budget?

Many companies prefer face-to-face training because, at face-value, it can look like the more affordable option. When you consider the initial spend required to get an online learning programme off of the ground, the odd classroom training here and there might not seem so bad.

cost of face-to-face trainingHowever, if you recall all of the associated costs, the cost of face-to-face training can quickly balloon out of control. Even if it looks like classroom training works out cheaper, there’s still the thorny issue of the effectiveness of the training.

What’s the point of spending money on face-to-face training sessions that will be forgotten after a couple of weeks? If you want to change behaviour in your company, you need to tackle the forgetting curve and reinforce the knowledge on a regular basis. When it comes to real change, you have a better chance of getting a return on your investment with online learning.

The key to learning that really works is to engage the learners. Although this has been a challenge for L&D, an Engagement Engine can make the job a lot easier. If you want to know how to build a training program to rival any face-to-face training, click the button below to download your own Engagement Engine Workbook!

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