If you’re comparing online training vs classroom training to win budget or resources for online training initiatives at your organization, I have some good info to help you build your business case.
When it’s done right, online training — which knowledge transfer through virtual instructor-led, self paced online courses — in many ways is actually more effective than classroom learning, assuming of course that learners are self motivated, have the ability to sustain their focus and there are no behavioral issues.
My online courses have over 350,000 enrollments on Udemy, growing at roughly 2,000 new enrollees each month, and I’ve learned a ton about what works and what doesn’t in virtual trainings.
From an engagement standpoint, over the last 12 months 21,323 active students consumed 672,352 minutes of my courseware. I could also tell you what they watch specifically, how many times, how they did on the assessments and how many certified.
In a survey of 1,021 experts by Pew Internet, 60% agreed that by 2020 “there will be mass adoption of teleconferencing and distance learning…”
This will be particularly true, they predicted, when it comes to teaching online skills, where the internet browser serves as a virtual chalkboard.
Well it happened, but not for the reasons the survey predicted. Had it not been for COVID-19, I doubt we’d be as far along from an adoption standpoint as we are today.
If you’re specifically interested in producing virtual customer success webinars, here another post with 5 Reasons why EdTech is the future of customer success.
1. Online Courses Provide Automatic Retention
If it’s recored, you don’t have to take notes.
For SaaS providers looking to promote customer success by teaching their users to better leverage their products, retention is critical
In tight economies, businesses cut non essential services first. So product utilization is the key to circumventing churn.
When all the material is recorded, and people are spared from having to retain everything themselves, they can focus 100% on trying to apply the key concepts they learn without having to write it all down simultaneously.
If students can follow along through exercises on their computer, instead of watching someone else, writing it down and trying to recreate those steps after the fact, they are much less likely to be successful.
Even if they never go back and watch it, having the recorded content gives them the peace of mind to focus al their attention on developing new skills.
2. Online Courses Provide Random Access
When information is presented from a lectern, it’s shared in a linear fashion.
You have to sit through long, drawn-out explanations, some of which you know, and some of which you don’t.
But since everyone knows different things, the linear approach serves the group, but not necessarily the individual.
Lectern presentations are great for case studies and more strategic content, but if the objective is software training, the live classroom is not ideal.
I’ve led 2-day software training programs all over the world, where people bring a laptop. I’ve done it for over a decade now, so I’m good at it, but I can tell you it is not the best way to relay hands on, practical, how-to knowledge.
When on-demand content is broken down into bite-sized chunks, and tagged appropriately so it can be easily found, participants can laser in on what they want.
If you want dive even deeper into what makes a great online course from a production standpoint, listen to this interview I recorded with Michael Ninness, Vice President of Content at lynda.com about how to design online training courses.
3. Learner Sets the Pace
Everybody picks things up at different speeds. Good instructors try and teach to the center of the classroom, which under serves faster learner and frustrates the slower learners.
When you can stop and rewind the information presented as many times as you like and learn at your own pace, everyone can learn and fast or slow as they like, and no one gets lost or bored.
This is particularly helpful for customer success sessions. SEMrush, a SaaS provider of search analytics intelligence produces live customer training webinars that they repurpose on YouTube.
The material, which is fairly technical, includes recorded screen captures and step by step tutorials about every aspect of search engine optimization.
Following these types of sessions in real time can be especially challenging for beginners. By repurposing the content on-demand, SEMrush is able to serve learners at different levels.
4. Students Can Time & Place Shift
Why schedule time out of the office and wait until the right course is available only to be forced to consume 6 hours of course material in a single day at a conference center you have to travel to?
For a while, we went because it was fun. But now, with the world on lockdown, the idea of traveling with a face mask and gloves, always worried about contracting coronavirus, doesn’t sound so fun anymore.
Online training allows you to time-shift and place-shift your professional development when you want, where you want.
“A recent 93-page report on online education, conducted by SRI International for the Department of Education, has a starchy academic title, but a most intriguing conclusion: “On average, students in online learning conditions performed better than those receiving face-to-face instruction,” wrote Steve Lohr in the New York Times back in 2009.
What’s your perception of online learning? Do you think it could work for you? How does your organization plan to broaden its digital literacy?
According to futurist Alvin Toffler, “illiteracy will not be defined by those who cannot read and write, but by those who cannot learn and relearn.”
By leaving us no other option, the pandemic significantly accelerated our collective elearning literacy. Almost everyone is comfortable these days teleconferencing.
Use the 4 reasons cited in this article to help secure resources for online training initiatives at your organization.
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