Online learning systems have become extremely popular these days and it seems it is a trend that is here to stay. It is no surprise that online learning has become increasingly popular, as it offers learners more flexibility with their schedules, self-paced learning options, and access to instructors just as traditional in-person training methods. But is online learning as effective as face to face learning? Let’s take a look at how online learning may even be more effective in some ways!
What is Online Learning?
Online learning is possible with the use of an online learning system and an internet connection. It can be useful for any type of learning such as a supplemental training course, a full degree program or a self-study learning course. In most scenarios online learning is asynchronous, meaning that learners do not have to learn all at the same time and geological location as their instructors.
What is In-Person Training?
In-person training is the more traditional method of learning. Usually learners and instructors need to attend an in-person training session at the same time. The instructor leads the course and enrollees are learning passively.
Online Learning vs In-Person Training
1. Synchronous Learning vs Asynchronous learning
One of the most major differences between in-person training and online learning is that in-person learning is synchronous-done at the same time. All learners and instructors need to be present for face to face learning.
However, with online learning, that is not necessary at all. With the use of a training software, learning can be either synchronous or asynchronous.
2. Delivering Knowledge vs Advancing Knowledge
Instructors are usually just delivering knowledge to learners, then assessing learners’ understanding of that knowledge at a later date.
In comparison to online learning, instructors are seen more as facilitators of the learning process. They are there to help their learners thoroughly understand the course content through online materials that are easily accessible within the online learning system.
3. Instructor vs Learner-Led Advancement
Online learning and in-person learning both have components of a learner-led and instructor-led curriculum. Learning online leans just a bit more to the learner-led advancement side. Online learning allows individuals to decide for themselves what they would like to spend more of their time learning or what additional materials they need to take a deep dive into.
4. Self-motivation and Discipline
Online education does require a bit of extra self-motivation and discipline. This is because no one will pressure you to stay on track, you must be your own time keeper, disciplinarian and motivator. To help keep your energy up, add some motivating quotes to your work space to inspire you to power through!
5. Measuring Progress and Performance
Both in-person training and online learning has a way to measure your performance. It is usually done by submitting assignments, quizzes, exams or maybe even points for engagement. Participation and engagement is just as easily measured in an online training software environment.
6. Social Interaction
When learners meet in-person, there is a sense of community and togetherness. You are able to have conversations unrelated to work and get to know each other. Engaging in person releases Oxytocin and makes for stronger social bonding. Instructors are able to pick up any nonverbal cues from their audience and adjust accordingly. In an online learning environment, that social connection may become more of a challenge to foster. To create a strong social connection it requires creativity, attention, and planning.
Instructors in a virtual classroom can call on participants, create team challenges, have participants work together in groups, or even allow time for a chat before or after class. You will see greater engagement and motivation from your online learners when there is more social interaction and emotional involvement.
7. Learning Dimensions
When you are learning in-person, it is 3-Dimensional. Instructors and participants are physically there. You have your whiteboard, charts, physical learning materials, face-to-face discussions and more. All the senses are engaged-hearing, sight, smell and touch. These make it easy to capture attention, foster a sense of community and create engagement.
Online learning is a 2-Dimensional environment. Within your online course, you need to have a variety of visuals in order to grab your learners attention, and keep them engaged. You can utilize virtual learning tools such as virtual whiteboards, quizzes, breakout rooms and group challenges.
8. Content Facilitation
In a traditional classroom, a great instructor finds a way to take the content being presented and bring it to life. Their presence is heavily relied on to create a learning experience that will draw learners in.
In a virtual classroom, it could be a little more challenging. Instructors have to take into account challenges such as distraction. A 2-D learning environment etc. They cannot rely solely on their physical presence. In addition, facilitators must know how to thoroughly utilize the learning platform and deliver information at a faster pace to hold participants attention.
9. Learning Distractions
In a physical learning environment, you are able to control most learning distractions participants may encounter. While learning remotely, some learners may experience distractions such as children being homeschooled, pets, personal obligations etc. Figuring out ways to keep learners engaged is vital so you are not competing for their attention.
10. Classroom Timing
When enrolled in multiple days of training, learners can consume hours worth of content broken up by topic, group exercises and discussions. Timing for online training, on the other hand, should ideally be broken down into 90-minute sessions. It is considered the sweet spot for an adult learner’s attention to be held. Online sessions longer than that are more likely to cause learners to disengage.
11. Practice and Assignments
In face-to-face training sessions, individuals are able to practices new skills they have learned through role-playing and case studies, followed by real-time feedback and advice from their instructors.
A great advantage of online learning is learners are able to practice their new skills in between sessions with real-life opportunities. They are not limited to only practicing with other participants and given case studies. They are able to put their new skills to the test in real-life scenarios and bring observations and feedback of their successes and failures to their online classmates and instructors. This helps all learners improve rapidly.
Projects and homework assignments for online learners are often completed with a higher rate of knowledge transfer because:
- Online learning content is broken down into bite-sized lessons
- Follow up online sessions require accountability(no one enjoys being singled out for not completing their assignments)
Making the transition from in-person training to online learning is an entirely different experience for instructors and learners. Be sure to consider the differences outlined in this article as you make your way to converting your in-person training to a virtual experience.
To read more about the benefits of Online learning in comparison to in-person training, click here.
SkyPrep can help you determine what works best for your learners’ schedules, learning needs and your budget. If your learners are geographically spread, or you are looking for an affordable training option, online learning might be best suited for your organization.
Get in touch with a SkyPrep product specialist to determine how SkyPrep can help with your training needs.
Ehsan Memari is a blogger for SkyPrep, a provider of leading online training software for organizations to train employees’ partners and customers. Ehsan is a regular contributor to blog posts related to knowledge sharing, L&D, and eLearning.