In food manufacture, nutrition and hospitality training, face-to-face courses have long been the tradition. You enrol yourself or your employees on a course and that course is completed in a classroom, with weekly lessons led by a tutor.
But is the traditional way the best way?
While the transition was sudden and the circumstances were far from ideal, the move towards mass online learning during COVID-19 showed that we don’t have to be physically present to learn. The course material can be the same, but the delivery and surroundings can be different.
Not that online training is new, of course. People have been partaking in distance learning for years and studying online since 1998. But it’s never been as current or mainstream as it is right now, with so many millions of people seeing the benefits first hand.
So let’s look at some of these benefits. What does online training bring to the (virtual) table that make it a viable, and perhaps better, alternative to face-to-face training?
The internet has completely transformed how we consume media and get our information. Everything we want to watch, know and learn is at our fingertips. We’re able to stream whatever song or TV show we want, whenever we want and ‘Googling’ something is second nature.
Online training fits perfectly with this internet-driven lifestyle, putting the user in charge and giving them access to information whenever they need it.
With no requirement to be at a particular venue at set time each week and no physical books or folders to carry around, you can learn where it suits you — at home, the library, the pub, a sun lounger on the beach. Your classroom is whatever you want it to be.
You can learn when it suits you, catering your training around family and social commitments. And you can learn how it suits you. Not a morning person? Log on in the afternoon or evening when your brain feels fully engaged. Prefer to study in short bursts? Do five minutes on the morning commute and 20 minutes at lunch time.
All you need is an internet connection and a phone, tablet or computer to work on.
Looking at it from the perspective of an employer, this level of flexibility can be a big time saver. Because employees can access training whenever they need it, work isn’t interrupted. As a result, according to a study by Brandon Hall Group, it typically takes employees 40-60% less time to study material online than in a traditional classroom setting.
While such easy access to information is a good thing, it can be said that information overload has contributed to diminishing attention spans.
Research puts the average attention span of millennials and Gen Zers at anywhere from 12 seconds to only eight seconds.
This makes flexibility and the ability to learn in short bursts important. And it shows in how students respond to online training versus classroom training. Studies show that, on average, students retain 25-60% more material when learning online, compared to 8-10% when learning in the classroom.
This is because students have more control over the learning process and can revisit parts of a course if they need to. Much like we can easily jog our memories by quickly looking at Wikipedia.
When you book face-to-face training, you pay for the tutor’s time. Depending on where training is provided, you may also need to cover the costs of a classroom and travel for yourself and/or your employees.
This naturally makes it more expensive than a course that lives online.
Of course, the extra expense of face-to-face training does come with the added benefit of being able to get help directly from a tutor. But with help and support available via email without the need to make appointments, online training again fits with how we interact daily with service providers. An email can be sent at any time of the day. A phone call or one-on-one meeting doesn’t offer the same level of flexibility.
Taking the classroom out of the equation offers a much more efficient way of learning that’s environmentally friendly, as was demonstrated during the first COVID-19 lockdown when carbon emissions dropped by 17%.
The less we have to travel to training, the more the planet benefits and the savings are significant: online training cuts energy use by 90% and CO2 emissions by 85%, according to research by the Open University.
In a world where businesses or corporations are under more scrutiny than ever when it comes to tackling climate change, the simple act of moving training online can be a significant step.
Learning is the number one reason why people want to join and stay at organisations. While face-to-face training lets you meet this need, online training lets employees upskill on their own terms, tailored around their lifestyle and preferred way of learning, which can only be a good thing for business.
Ready to take your training online? Take a look at our courses.