Learning platforms have undergone tremendous changes; from classrooms to desktops to mobile phones. But there are still organizations who are unable to decide if they want to completely switch over to online training. Some might say that since millennials comprise a major part of the workforce, it would be prudent to use an online training platform. But even among the millennial crowd, there are people who prefer the traditional approach. Now since enterprises cannot make decisions on the basis of individual employee’s preferences, they need to make a choice considering what would be beneficial to their business as well as ensure employee satisfaction.
For an enterprise, training and development is compulsory. But how to deliver it so that employees can gain maximum benefit out of it is the question most L&D teams ask. Should they go by the traditional classroom-based approach? Or should they use an online learning platform such as a mobile device, as employees are accustomed to using them on a regular basis?
Let us compare which is the Best Online Training Platform or Traditional Training:
1. Does an Online Training Platform or Traditional Training save more time?
Time is money in business. And online training saves a lot of time for you and the employees. How? With online training, the course content is available on their mobile devices, which means they can carry it with them everywhere and view it whenever they want. Rather than sitting in a training room for hours, your employees could be doing some productive work instead. And the course instructor could possibly be mentoring someone who needs help.
An instructor-led classroom training model requires trainees to spend a few hours or an entire day/s in training. In business, every hour is accounted for. So, the hours they spend in training rooms are man-hours that they are not being productive. One can argue that they are investing time to deliver better output post training. But when there is a better option available, why not utilize it?
Instructor-led training lends a human approach, where employees can ask questions and clarify doubts. In an online learning environment, the employees are mostly self-driven. If they have any queries, they look it up on the web or they ask their mentors at the workplace when required. So, by using an online training platform, you can use the working hours for actual productive work.
2. Which One is More Engaging?
In an instructor-led training program, the trainers tend to incorporate certain games and activities to keep the employees engaged. Simulation and role play games are used to enhance the critical thinking skills of the employees. They are encouraged to talk, collaborate and communicate with each other, which is a good exercise to keep them engaged. Employees would be mentally active and alert enough to grasp the information being delivered. But, there’s hardly any engagement with the content. When it comes to content, they are mostly reading text, which could eventually result in lack of interest.
In online training, there’s obviously no way to make your employees play team games other than virtual multiplayer games, but that seems like a futile exercise when it comes to corporate training. So instead, there are simulation games that can be embedded into the course module where just like in a classroom scenario, employees are required to apply certain skills and make quick decisions. As your employees are not new to playing games on mobiles, they tend to find this practice quite interesting. Add to it some gamifications, and you can keep them motivated as well to play and win. Moreover, these games can be played anywhere, at the bus stop, coffee shop, at home etc. So, online training provides more engagement with the training content as opposed to classroom training.
3. Which Is More Accessible?
A traditional training approach will have instructors handing out training manuals or they would have the training deck on the drive or on the intranet which can be accessed through desktops/laptops. And this training deck is mostly accessible only while the person is in the office. It is not possible to take the training materials outside the office space. This restricts its usage. If the employee wishes to brush up his knowledge while on his way to work, he cannot because there’s nothing to refer to, except maybe the notes made during training.
Whereas with the help of an online training platform, employees can view the training content anytime and anywhere. These days, training content can be made available across multiple devices and operating platforms. So, any mobile based device can be used to access the training content. Internet connection is also no longer an issue as these training modules can be accessed offline as well.
4. Which One Promotes Collaboration?
In traditional training method, communication becomes easy as people can see each other face to face rather than on screens. But again, training all the employees at once who are at different office locations is not possible. To communicate across locations, you will have to set up a conference call or a video call, ensuring that all the required members are assembled at the location on time. Communication and collaboration both are limited to the people in the training room.
Though online training is mostly about individualized learning where people learn at their own pace and time, it enables greater collaboration. Online discussion forums are a great platform to communicate with other employees. Online training modules also have sharing features where employees can share content with their colleagues. Creating a social sharing page allows employees to post content and interact with their colleagues and seniors online. The topic of discussion may not always be work related, but this helps them create a good rapport with people across their organization.
5. Which is More Interactive?
Interaction involves communication with someone or something. In a traditional training model, the only interaction comes from instructors and trainees communicating with each other. Whereas an online training platform lets your employees interact with the content. Online training content can be embedded with multimedia elements such as videos, images, audio files etc., to make it more engaging. You can also add AR elements to make the training more immersive.
Maintaining the level of engagement is crucial in both the training practices. But online training has an added advantage as people are habituated to looking into their phones while they are distracted or if they have spare time to kill. So, if you provide them interactive materials which they can access on their phones, you have an opportunity to keep your trainees engaged in the course. Not only multimedia, but an online training platform provides more interactivity such as annotation, search feature, text highlight, word look up etc.
6. Which is More Cost Effective?
A traditional training approach requires you to bear the cost of the instructor, printed training materials if any, utilities such as electricity, classroom space, equipment if needed etc.
Whereas in online training, you only have to pay for a learning management system to deliver and manage the training. You can draft the content for the training program yourself and allow the LMS company to transform it into a compelling training module, complete with interactivities. So, the only expense you incur in online training is the cost of getting it made and delivered. Choosing the right platform for training delivery is important, as it’s the platform which enables you to add the right interactivities and make the course engaging for your employees.
So, after comparing the two training methods, it seems like online training has an upper hand over traditional training approach. Traditional training model is definitely going to stay, but maybe you can incorporate the two and go for a blended approach. Take the best of both the training platforms and deliver a holistic learning experience to your employees. Until that time, using an online training platform might be more beneficial to your organization as it saves cost and time, and delivers engaging and interactive content to your employees, helping them learn better.