“Are you going to move the new training courses online?”
This is a question I’ve been asked frequently over the past few weeks. We could have migrated our programme online as many training providers have done but decided to pause. Just because an online solution looks within reach, it’s not always the best response. So, we listened to comments and feedback from past and present students and trainers, we considered options and we asked ourselves questions about the quality benchmarks we wanted to set ourselves such as:
- How can we meet students expectations that the level of training, depth of experience and high level of skills attained are comparable to our ‘in person’ courses?
- Can we access the best technologies and support to translate our ‘in the room’ course content to an online format? (Above and beyond merely a wholesale shifting of existing content and structure to zoom.)
- How confident are we that new students will graduate with the high-level of skills, attitudes and self-awareness needed to achieve their goals?
We weighed up pros and cons, researched current thinking on online learning but much seems to justify virtual working so fervently it smells of ‘spin’. As we resisted the pressure to rush headlong into action and join the movement online, words from Nancy Kline, author of Time to Think came to mind – “Thinking for yourself is still a radical act.”
There’s evidence that students are significantly less satisfied with an online course than with an equivalent in-person course. Of course there are advantages to virtual learning, but face-to-face training has specific advantages that are particularly relevant to our business. Here are a few that seem to come up often:
- Social interaction during training sessions, including informally during breaks
- The ability to get immediate answers to questions
- More fluid exchange of ideas
- Better retention due to decreased likelihood of multitasking
- Immediate instructor feedback on coaching practice
- Higher satisfaction scores
- Flexibility and personalization of each training session, as a trainer this sensing into and ‘reading the room’ enables me to adapt content in the moment
- By their very nature, virtual learning platforms are subject to technical issues, such as security, network, and bandwidth glitches. ‘Zoom’ fatigue (google searches for this are currently at 76,500,000)
So, though our courses already include online work and will incorporate more blended learning in future, and even though it makes financial sense, even though we really, really, don’t want to disappoint anyone eager to start training – at the moment we don’t think online format would meet our benchmarks. If we can’t start new cohorts this summer as planned we will postpone, perhaps later this year or into next year. Let us know right away if you want to join our training. We’ll keep you posted.