eLearning Courses vs Classroom Courses
By Nader K. Rad
I believe that eLearning courses are better for learning new things, whereas face-to-face sessions are better for refining an existing knowledge by group exercises and workshops.
Let me now explain why eLearning courses are better than classroom courses for learning new things.
Duration of learning
Classroom courses are intensive and conducted in a few days (e.g., 3 days for PRINCE2® Foundation, 5 days for PMP®, and 2 days for Scrum), while with an eLearning course, the learner can take the course gradually over a few weeks or a few months.
A basic principle in learning is that when you learn quickly, you will forget quickly, because you don’t have enough time to digest and absorb the information.
Each time we sleep, our brain organizes the new information. That’s three organizing opportunities for a classroom-based PRINCE2 course, instead of 15 to 60 opportunities when learning is done with an eLearning course.
On the other hand, imagine the process of learning in a few weeks or a few months: Every once in a while, when you’re traveling to work or home, or while you’re working, you remember something from the previous lessons and start wondering about it, think about the way it applies to your projects, compare it with the status quo, etc. That’s you digesting the information. In intensive learning, you have much less of that opportunity.
The intensity of the course for learners
I don’t know about you, but I can’t keep learning for 8 hours a day!
It takes a lot of energy to learn, and we are not robots. We just get tired; and besides the unnecessary torture, when we get tired, we can’t learn well.
There are two possible options for managing intensive courses:
- Not caring about your level of energy, which harms your learning process
- Spending some time on light activities to give you some energy, which in turn leaves less time for discussing the main topics.
With an eLearning course, you can take only 15, 30, or 45 minutes a day, and learn comfortably. If you get distracted and don’t understand a lesson properly, you can go back and watch it again – an opportunity that you don’t have in a classroom course.
The intensity of the course for trainers
Believe it or not, trainers have the same problems with intensive classroom courses as you do! They also get tired at the end of the day, and it lowers the quality of their course. Moreover, they may just be having a bad day or they may not in the mood, which will translate into a bad course for the poor learners.
With an eLearning course, we spend 3 to 6 months preparing the course. When it’s time to record the course, we record as much as we can and stop when we get tired. In addition to that, if we record a session and see that we’re not satisfied with it, we just throw it away and record it again!
With a classroom course, you have to stop working for a few days to take the course, which is an extra cost for freelancers or companies. With an eLearning course, the lessons can be as short as 15 minutes, so you can easily take one or two lessons in your otherwise wasted time, or at the end of the day, without putting pressure on yourself or giving up your billable time, and finish the course.
Does it make a difference who the trainer is?
Of course it does! Not everyone is the same. Both the knowledge of the trainer on the topic and their teaching capability play a significant role in the quality of the course and your level of learning.
How do you know who’s going to be your trainer?
Sometimes you have the choice to pick a course with a certain trainer, where you can check to make sure the trainer is capable. That’s great. Unfortunately, you don’t have this opportunity in most courses. The course is delivered by a certain training organization, and that’s all you know. Then, you go to the class and encounter an inexperienced trainer who just browses through slides and reads them to you.
Many people think that picking one of the best-known training organizations guarantees the quality of the course, but that’s not the case. You wouldn’t believe how many messages I’ve received from “famous” training organizations on LinkedIn, saying something like
“We have a PRINCE2/PMP/Scrum course scheduled in Brussels. We’d like to invite you to give the training. We will give you the training material, pay for your accreditation as a trainer, and pay €300 per day for the course. Please let us know if you’re interested.”
Signed, a representative from a famous training organization.
It’s obvious that they don’t even know me, because if they did, they would have known that I’m the co-owner of a competitor company and that I’m already accredited as a trainer for all those topics. Furthermore, a person who accepts €300 a day to give a course in Europe cannot be a professional trainer, because they can’t even receive the minimum income with that type of money. (Remember that you can’t give courses every day.) You have to pay €1,000 to €2,000 a day for a professional trainer.
So, what happens is that the poor learners or companies trust those famous training organizations, and then they get a course delivered by a random person who probably has no experience in giving that type of training, and probably doesn’t have enough experience and knowledge in the topic.
This is entirely different in eLearning courses: You can find out who the trainer is, and you can check to see whether they are capable. More importantly, you can see a demo of the course and ensure that it meets your expectations. That’s why we’ve made the first 30% of our courses available for free :)
Classroom courses are much more expensive than eLearning courses, because you are one of the people in a small group who has to pay for the time of the trainer and the cost of the venue.
For the reasons I’ve explained, I believe eLearning courses are superior for learning new things. It doesn’t mean that face-to-face sessions are useless: they are great for workshops where people practice what they have already learned (via eLearning courses, books, etc.)