How to Choose Between Live Trainings and eLearning Modules

I often have clients ask me if a given training would be better as an eLearning module or a live workshop. There are a lot of benefits to each approach, and some serious drawbacks.

  • eLearning modules are more convenient for a far flung or busy group of learners, but they lack a lot of the personalization that happens on the fly when a really good trainer has a feel for the room.
  • Live courses create better connections between learners and between the learners and the instructor, but they are inconvenient for some schedules, and require more resources.

The short answer is that offering both is usually (but not always) the ideal solution. Run a hands on class a few times a year (or however often is needed) for those who prefer that style or need extra help, and having eLearning modules available for those who need them. Even courses that need to be in person could usually have an online component, cutting down on in class time.

However, the real answer depends on 1) why they are having their learners take the trainings, 2) the availability of the learners, and 3) what learners have to do to prove their proficiency.

The first point is about understanding your goals for the training. For example, if you are just running a class to meet a requirement, and you don’t care that much about anything else except proving you met that requirement, by all means make a quick eLearning module and move on. No point in wasting the resources on running live class after live class. Similarly, if you need your learners to be able to access the information over and over again on demand, make an eLearning.

The second point is about your demographics. If you live in a rural area and your staff are spread out over three counties and rarely come in to the office, you better save your live trainings for when you REALLY need them. Similarly, if you are working with volunteers, you will have more luck attracting a diverse volunteer force if your in-class training requirements are lower. On the other hand, a workforce that is already in the office all day can really benefit from live classes. They are convenient, and foster team building.

The third point is where it gets a little sticker. Next week, we’ll look at topics that are not suited to eLearning.


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