You’ve probably heard some of the things people say about online training:
“The courses are a lot easier than ‘regular’ courses, so you don’t learn as much.”
“You lose that ‘personal’ connection that you get in the classroom.”
“Employers don’t count online courses as actual training.”
Online training employs a variety of methods to deliver instruction and assessments. I’ve taken numerous courses as degree requirements and for certification. Online learning offered me convenience and exposed me to a variety of delivery approaches including synchronous and asynchronous instruction, live meetings in virtual classrooms, web conferencing with learners in China, social interaction, and various eLearning applications. Overall, I’ve had very positive experiences and have found the courses both rigorous and engaging. Despite personal experiences from people like me and research that shows the efficacy of online courses, many misconceptions remain. Let’s take a look at a few.
Fiction: “Online courses are easier than face-to-face courses.”
Fact: Online courses can be just as challenging as traditional face-to-face courses.
Online and classroom training seek the same fundamental learning outcomes. Course objectives, instructional strategies, materials, individual and group work, and assessments should be designed in such a way that the learner’s physical location shouldn’t matter. Most online courses provide specific guidelines and time commitments for learners (e.g. “Expect to spend 10-15 hours a week per module”). These guidelines are meant to be followed and learners still need to “show up” to be successful.
Fiction: “Learners will lose the ability to interact and connect with classmates and instructors.”
Fact: Any well-developed training includes unique ways to engage and create meaningful interactions for their learners.
I have developed numerous lasting, collegial relationships with classmates and instructors without ever meeting face-to-face. Many of these relationships began during group projects or through discussion threads. Interaction was encouraged and enhanced through tools like text messaging, Skype, Adobe Connect, Second Life, and that old faithful standby, the telephone. Regardless of delivery mode, it’s important to incorporate opportunities for both instructors and participants to share their backgrounds, interests, and expectations to create personal connections.
Fiction: “Learners won’t participate as much in an online class.”
Fact: More introverted learners may be more inclined to participate in an online course.
Honestly, not everyone does backflips when it’s time to break out into group project work or stand up in front of their peers to recap three important things they learned from the reading materials. Online classes can afford these learners time to think and plan what they want to say, making it easier to share and contribute in a “safe environment.” Online courses can help build both engagement and confidence, enhancing the learning experience.
Fiction: “Employers don’t see online training as ‘real’ training.”
Fact: Accredited programs from respected professional organizations do carry weight with employers.
Recent studies show that employers recognize skill gaps in both job candidates and new hires that traditional college courses have not addressed. Accredited online programs serve an important role in helping learners close these skill gaps. As more learners successfully complete online courses and apply new skills on the job, employers’ are recognizing online training’s ability to supplement existing qualifications.
The Final Verdict: Online learning is rapidly becoming a practical option for learners and organizations alike. No, online courses don’t have the four walls of a traditional classroom or the physical presence of an instructor or peers, but these facts do not diminish the effectiveness of a well-designed, instructionally sound online course. Now the question has become, “Is your organization ready to get online?”
If you’d like to learn about custom eLearning course creation from Digitec Interactive, visit our eLearning page.
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