Tue 16th January 2018 - 08:52

Face-to-Face vs Online Training: Separating Myth from Reality

Employee trainings are the building block for any organisation, which is why business owners never think twice before spending on them. In fact, the 2017 training industry report suggests that training budgets rose by an exorbitant 32.5% and clocked a whopping $90.6 Billion. Shocking, right?

Imagine spending a fortune on employee training programs and still losing not meeting targets. A true nightmare for every business owner. Much to their surprise, the way you deliver training can decide whether objectives are achieved or not. When it comes to training, two broad methods exist:

Face-to-Face and Online Training

The truth is that both of these options have some merits and possible drawbacks, but is there a clear winner? We are here to see what sets these two methods apart and look at the significance of their differences.

No method is perfect

Here’s a spoiler for all those who don’t have the time to scroll down the article for a more nuanced answer – it’s not quite black and white, and neither option is bulletproof.

While there are quite a few articles out there that seem to be overly critical of anything traditional, there are several benefits to having a teacher in front of you.

On the other hand, while it’s wrong to paint a traditional classroom setting as a jail cell where creativity goes to die, using software tools for training does offer a lot more flexibility.  

With all this in mind, let’s jump right into the pros and cons of each training method to see what they are all about.

Advantages of Face-to-Face Training

Humans are highly social beings and most of us do quite well using the old “monkey see, monkey do” approach. Having another person there to guide you through the process can really make things easier, but there are several key benefits to this approach:

Coaching in real time – this is one of the fastest ways to attain new knowledge and skills. This is particularly true of complex skills, where it pays to have all our little mistakes corrected right as they happen, and before they can grow into bad habits.

The ability to ask complex questions – online FAQs have their limitations, but a teacher can take the time to answer any manner of unusual questions and address tiny details. Other people in the class can also ask questions that you hadn’t even thought about, so you might get to cover some fairly interesting material.

Interaction with classmates – with a number of unique personalities and minds that think differently in one room, you can come up with some incredibly creative solutions. It’s also a great opportunity to do some networking and make connections that may prove valuable in the long run.

Hearing real-world examples and scenarios – the best thing about a teacher is that they can help put all the learning material into context by offering an anecdote from their years of experience in the field. This makes it much easier to master the subject matter and shows you the subtle differences between theory and practice.

All in all, face-to-face learning may be more expensive and have a more rigid structure than using software tools for training, but it gives you access to all the benefits of interacting with an experienced professional and your peers.

Advantages of Online training

The main advantage of the online training model is that you don’t have to get a bunch of people in the same room at a given time. They also don’t need to follow a rigid training module structure, which is why this model has become so popular. However, there’s far more to online training software for trainers than first meets the eye:

Low cost

Since there is no need for a teacher, classroom, printed materials and learning aids, the costs of implementing online training are quite low compared to the traditional method.

Incredibly convenient

No one has to sit through traffic to get to a classroom and sit in uncomfortable chairs, or rearrange their schedule to fit in the lessons. You can learn on the train or on the couch, early in the morning or late at night, at home or from a cafe in Italy.

Time-efficient and precise

Online training is laid out concisely and usually takes a lot less time than face-to-face learning. You don’t have to wait for everyone to settle down or for the teacher to write something on the board.

Customisable and scalable approach

A student who picks things up quickly can just fly through the material, while those who have trouble can go over certain parts as many times as they like. Learners can focus more on videos and other visuals, or they can skim through the text – the learning possibilities are endless. It’s also easy to use the same training modules for a large amount of trainees in different locations.

High level training across the board

Using software tools for training ensures that everyone, regardless of their location, gets the same quality of training.    

As you can see, online learning can be incredibly efficient, convenient and customisable.

Finding the right option for you

When all is said and done, both options have a specific area where they shine, and are better suited to certain situations.

Face-to-face training works best for detailed and complex topics, where interaction with others helps you cover the material better.

Online training is best used when you have a large number of trainees in different locations, remote workers or positions with a high employee turnover.

Making the choice

It’s difficult to say which option is better for someone without assessing their specific situation, but it won’t be difficult to make up your mind if you go over the points we’ve covered above. Take your time when considering the pros and cons of face-to-face and online training, and you won’t have any trouble making the right decision.

Overall, it boils down to the location of your employees and their preferred learning methods. For in-house teams, you can go for both face-to-face and online trainings whereas for remote workers, you can’t do without online trainings.


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