Elearning or Live Training – Which Should You Use?

questionmarkElearning is establishing itself quite firmly as a viable solution, and often replacement, for classroom learning. I for one don’t believe elearning is the best for every scenario, but it certainly can hold its own.

In the training design & delivery world, you will find mixed feelings regarding elearning when compared to live classroom training.  There could be a variety of reasons here, but I suspect it’s because some live trainers don’t want to be replaced.  Naturally, this will never really happen, as no amount of elearning can replace the human element provided by live training.  However, I do know it to be a concern in some circles.

The best way to think about elearning is as a supplement to live training sessions.  Yes, in some cases it is a viable replacement altogether – often saving time and money for an organization.  The great thing about elearning is that experts build the content, and it can exist for years, whereas there is often a shortage of well-trained teachers and the delivery is variable (compared to the consistent delivery of elearning).  That said, live training can certainly be more engaging and allows for in-person collaboration.

When it comes down to the bottom line (costs), the reusable nature of elearning is by far and away the best solution for the price conscientious. The cost of a live training session quickly reaches four (sometimes five) figures given the associated costs with logistics.  Before the training even begins the costs are enormous.

When deciding if elearning or live training is the best solution, the key thing to consider is the content itself, and if it is conducive to self-controlled learning.  In other words, does it make sense to entrust the learner with controlling the learning experience.  In elearning, the learner sets the pace, which can be beneficial in many settings, but ultimately the discipline to completely understand the content also rests with the learner. For complex, new topics this may be too much to ask of students.  In this case, a live training session should probably be used, perhaps supplemented by an elearning prerequisite.

If you are responsible for creating a training program, take a look at the complexity of the content, duration of training, and your allotted budget.  Depending on these factors, you will be able to come up with a viable mix of both elearning and live training.  If your budget doesn’t allow for classroom based training, consider supplementing the elearning modules with webinars instead. In the end, it’s best to use a variety of methods to delivery training as everyone learns differently.

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About the Author:

Justin Ferriman is the co-founder and CEO of LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by the world's leading organizations, such as the University of Michigan, Digital Marketer, WPEngine, and Infusionsoft. Justin has made a career as an elearning consultant where he has implemented large-scale training programs for Fortune 500 companies. Twitter | LinkedIn

5 Comments
  1. Hi Justin,
    I have found that eLearning can be best of both worlds… We use LearnDash both for self-study, but also to introduce new topics and then have a physical in-person training/workshop session. I have been educated in the “traditional” in-class model but have now become a big proponent to use eLearning for things where I give the flexibility to the student to learn at their own pace and then have follow-up which can be both by VoiP or in-person.

  2. Wilco

    There is a lot to talk about, but one of the most jmportant in this economy is the fact that organisations have less money, so they have to cut expenses. With elearning they can reach more people in less time, and this is a big plus. Ofcourse first you have to invest in the elearningsystem and make the content ready for elearning, but after you’ve done that, there are the profits! I still recomment blended learning for the best results.

    Blended learning is also the best because as an organisation you have much more control at content and quality. This seems strange because you should asome that quality is a goal, and content should be a plan with a learningline that is communicated allong type whole organisation. In practice this is mostly not the way it is. Sometimes I travel a few hours for a workshop or training, and sitting in the classroom, I get really sleepy and bored and wished I stayed home (I would have learned more quicker by the internet or reading a studybook). Very often when I’m giving a workshop or training, I notice that the students (Who work as a trainer) don’t know from eacher other how they use (teach) tbe content. They don’t talk about it with each other. there is content, but everybody teaches it on his individual way. There is no learningline, and no talking about that together and nobody seems to check quality of the system.
    With An elearningsystem together with blended learning everybody has to teach the same content, learninglines are logic and quality of content is easely monitored. When the system alows trainers and learners to comment on the content, feedback is clear and well monitored allso. This feeds the quality. All you need now is a good manager of the proces.

    Question. When can we expect Learndash plus? In days, week or months? I’m so exicted about it to test it in my company. I sent several emails to get a betatester, but didn’t get a repley, so I can only wait tot the release, so hopefully you can make me and other people happy pretty soon.

    Wilco

  3. Fathima

    I find e learning quite exciting but living in South Africa where electricity n Internet isn’t always stable – the classroom learning seems still the way we do things

  4. I think the way elearning has evolved has actually done a disservice to corporate training. It seemed to be a viable option to swing from the classroom-only (ILT) approach to a major cost-saving, time-saving, and scalable solution. The result as I’ve experienced is a removal of the inherent humanizing element of learning.

    Elearning has become synonymous with automated voiceover slides with quizzes sprinkled in for “interactivity.” The effectiveness of elearning like Udemy, Treehouse, Coursera, etc., shows there’s a critical need for the behavioral economics / human psychology of learning – not just scalable solutions that minimize the need for team headcount.

    Curious to learn more about how you’re leveraging WP with LearnDash. You’re sharing great articles. Looking forward to reading more.

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