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eLearning vs classroom, splinters and a leisurely stroll


The great battle of the training format – which side do you support? Whose colours do you wear? Which team gets your cheers?

The pendulum of training fads has swung in each direction with compelling arguments from both parties (albeit often financially based). Cut down the cost of travel expense, fast track your training, learn on the job, increase the numbers of courses you can attend etc. The list, from classroom (in days of shared PC’s), via self paced books, to gargantuan CBT libraries, back to the classroom for immersive certified training, hopping over to 24/7 access (CISCO training at 1AM anyone?) has been endless.

Let’s leave the L&D department for a moment though, let’s take a stroll in the country, the suns out after all. How many times has this rural bliss been shattered as you climbed over a fence and ended with splinters in your backside? If like me – never. Splinters are a rare occurrence all round, so why is the position of taking a balanced view, looking at the merits of both parties given such derision? Fences are very handy afterall; more often than not meeting the need of parties on both sides. Not everything has to be an either or decision, IT as we all know is binary based, but our decisions don’t have to be.

The choice of eLearning or classroom based training is a myth. Travelling by car, doesn’t mean you can’t have a walk once you get there. I can hear the observant reader muttering, about to heckle; and yes they're correct - that fad pendulum did go through a blended learning stage at one point. However, at the time I’d suggest that it moved on, as despite many of our learning providers being able to talk a blended game their core business streams were really focused on either digital or classroom formats.

Where are we now? Firstly (picture that rural bliss again – sun out, open view etc…) we’re in a good place. Learning and Development professionals are experienced in both formats, many users are IT natives, and technology is available to all providers – a blended offering is a reality for clients and providers alike. Next stop (after my stroll) is to look at how this can be best managed. Or, to continue the analogy – when is it best to take a stroll through some interesting city streets and when would we benefit from some country air.

Enough of that metaphor! Now we’re comfortable on the fence, in the next installment we will look at how and when the range of training styles can be best deployed.

Duncan Brown

Director at training, technology and resourcing companies iTrain, Stratus and Kukhule, Duncan has worked in L&D for 18 years in the US and UK (and, on both sides of 'the fence').

First published on Stratus Blog

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