Virtual Classrooms vs. Traditional Instructor-Led Training: A Comparison

Posted by Leah on July 31, 2013  /   Posted in Tandem Solution Blog

Virtual classrooms or remote instructor training delivery is one of the fastest growing training modalities in the US. As a result, many new training companies have emerged and some established training providers redesigned their entire business model to only provide virtual training. While virtual training can be an effective and useful asset, the training option that is best for your organization depends on many factors.

Organizations will most benefit by choosing a training partner that has a comprehensive selection of publicly scheduled virtual classes, but can still provide traditional instructor-led classes that are designed to meet specific learning objectives (even for smaller groups of students). Ideally, corporate training decision-makers should have a choice of options to fulfill their employee development needs, but should assign a higher value to traditional instructor-led classes.

Comparisons

Traditional classroom

Virtual Classroom

Class timing
Class duration is easily extendable, instructor and student time permitting. Class duration is fixed and usually not extendable, as the next class waits to use the classroom.
Learner Groups
Students can be a homogenous group, sharing overlapping social circles and customs. Students can be a heterogeneous group, even global, with a variety of non-intersecting (and perhaps conflicting) social circles and customs.
Students typically fall within a similar age, profession, or academic background. Student composition may vary greatly in age, profession, and academic background.
Collaboration in learning
Teacher and students collaborate in the physical classroom. Teachers and students collaborate online via audio, video, and text chat.
It’s easier to create a relationship and work with different learner types in smaller classes and provide extra attention to these needs before and after scheduled class times. It’s hard to address the needs of different levels of learners in a large class of students from different locations.
Usually one teacher per class. Sometimes involves multiple teachers and can be confusing.
Common distractions
Since training is delivered in a smaller and more controlled environment, distractions are limited. Common distractions include co-worker and Management interruptions, internet problems, and students indulging in other work-related or online activities.
Cost
Travel costs may be necessary if a local training vendor is not available No travel costs. Teach and learn from anywhere.
Traditional Instructor-led training is typically a little higher than Virtual classes.  However, small private classes may be designed and customized to save time and money. Prices are typically a little lower than traditional classes, but content and class length cannot be altered and pricing is usually firm.
Scheduling challenges
A minimum number of students are often necessary to hold classes on their originally scheduled dates.  Therefore, class dates are sometimes rescheduled to allow for more enrollments. Since virtual classes are delivered by different instructors, learning continuity may suffer.
Limited number of training dates, may require you to work with your training provider for more scheduling options. Many employees do not wish to attend virtual classes and may opt not to participate.
Geography
Physical interaction can facilitate useful conversation and ideas that are discussed outside of the classroom experience (break and lunch rooms, restaurants, designated smoking areas, etc…). Physical interaction is missing and other interaction is limited to classroom.
It may be possible for the Instructor (the expert) to work within a specific network environment and system, address specific projects and data, and have firsthand exposure to staff challenges and culture. Training is typically predesigned to meet a variety of needs, environment, and culture.
Class Size
4-12 students that are usually grouped with similarly skilled participants. 20-100 students with varying needs and expertise.

 

Recommendations

We recommend partnering with a training provider that offers both forms of training deliveries. A partnership is crucial to the success of any training program and your greatest value and impact comes from working closely with your training provider to arrive at the best solution. Traditional instructor-led training remains the best choice for learning that requires extensive hands-on labs and in-depth understanding. Most importantly, if your training needs are project driven or specific to an initiative, traditional instructor-led training affords a greater ability to gear classroom discussion, examples, and labs to your specific needs.

However, for individual training needs, new employees training, overall basic understanding and universal overview needs, cross-training or training that simply cannot be found nearby, virtual classrooms may prove to be the best and most affordable option.

Many businesses find that they may need a customizable or even hybrid solution for their employee training. Call us today at 1-866-663-1969 to learn how we can accommodate your business’s specific learning needs and goals.

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