E-learning versus Traditional Classroom Training – Who Is the Winner?

E-learning versus Traditional Classroom Training – Who Is the Winner?

A few months ago, there was a poll on LinkedIn with the question – Is online training as effective as traditional classroom training? Respondents had only two options to choose from – Yes and No. This led to a series of comments and many suggested an “it depends” option. I was one of them.

How can one make a blanket statement about any method of training? There are several factors that influence the success of a training program – be it online or offline. As a matter of fact, there is no guarantee that traditional classroom training program will always succeed in meeting its objectives. The ‘it depends’ factor applies there as well. So, why does one always question the effectiveness of an eLearning program?

According to Towards Maturity’s research published in 2010, there could be 33 reasons why an eLearning program can fail. I can vouch for the fact that an equal number of reasons could result in failure of traditional training programs as well. But, I will focus on the online program for now. Here is my list on what could impede the success of an eLearning program based on Towards Maturity report and responses of members in the LinkedIn community.

1. Lack of clarity in business goals that the training program is supposed to achieve. Not having clear learning objectives for the courses developed.

2. No direction and support from the senior management or key stakeholders for the initiative. Top managements does not front the program.

3. Absence of good instructional design strategy for the course. No interactive elements with static one-way information flow, disregarding different learning styles and preferences.

4. Content developed by teams who are not trained to handle online learning medium. Absence of synergy between learning expertise and technical expertise in developing the content.

5. Lack of built-in assessments, evaluations, usage measurement and tracking of learning initiatives resulting in no quantifiable demonstration of benefits.

6. Burdening existing training personnel with the responsibility of learning new skills, content development for online delivery and eLearning and LMS administration.

7. Inability to conceive the future needs and requirements when first implementing eLearning initiatives in the organization. Organizations find that their existing infrastructure is unable to meet the growing demands and abandon initiatives that required additional expenditure.

Hence, in a debate between advocates of traditional format of learning and eLearning, there is no clear winner. The way the training is conceived, planned and delivered keeping in mind the business needs and the requirements of the learners is crucial to the success of any training program – online or offline. What do you say?

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