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Why face-to-face is so important


I have to thank Donald Taylor whose session at Training Zone Live on What makes a good L&D  department inspired this post. I could have titled the post 'In defence of the classroom' but wanted to expand it beyond my thoughts on classroom training. By the way, Charlie Duff over at HR Zone wrote a great post on How we learn, which outlines some of the pitfalls of classroom training.

So, to some of the benefits . . .

  • Emulation - of the trainer (and others)
  • Discussion
  • Meeting others
  • Safe environment
  • Away from work distractions.

There are probably more but the key for me is that rather than thinking about classroom training as one to many training it is useful to think of it as a great opprtunity for networking and sharing and in a safe environment.

Whether it is in a physical classroom or not, bringing people together face to face provides the opportunity for social interaction and that means learning and sharing. It seems that this is where classroom training can really work.

The meeting of others is particularly important, especially in large organisations where people can ben siloed.

In a previous role at publisher Reed Business Information, I co-founded a knowledge sharing event which was a weekly face to face meeting. We used Yammer, email and an internal blog to communicate and engage people in the event but it was the face to face event itself which provided the place for knowledge sharing. Each week a colleague would curate a session, bringing together speakers from around the business to share their ideas and experiences of a particular topic.

The event was very successful but it was the face to face element of it that really helped with the learning process. How? By . . .  

  1. Providing context - ie you come to learn and share in a safe environment
  2. Attendees listening to others from around the business
  3. Attendees putting a name to a face so they could follow up with each other post event
  4. Creating content for the blog - enabling us to capture the event content and publish it on the blog, which then provided a focus after the event. Attendees then used Yammer to ask questions - the content provided context for further discussion online, which also helped promote further events.

3 Responses

  1. Face to face is a limiting term

    Many of the advantages and benefits you have described can be achieved through distance technologies.

    Malcolm Sleath @malcolm12boxes

  2. Why face-to-face is so important

    Hi Malcolm. Thanks for your comment. I agree that technology can deliver many of the benefits I have mentioned. I am a big social media user and advocate and these tools have been a real game changer in terms of how I can communicate and learn from others. I have also noticed increasing interest (from people I know who use social media) in wanting to come together face to face. That surprised me.


  3. Blended approach may be best

    Interesting post. Face-to-face training definitely has many benefits and is a very important part of our business. However, we’ve recently introduced some new online training courses after feedback from our customers revealed that they were looking for some more flexible solutions to save time & costs.

    I think it’s important that organisations don’t fall into the trap of using emerging online tools as a means to replace traditional human based interactions. A blended approach to learning should be adopted to develop an effective L&D strategy.

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