To be or not to be.
It’s tempting to think that two very different methods of doing something represent a
clear binary choice: you either do one of them or the other. They are either chalk or
cheese. Coffee or tea. Manchester United or City.
To use a topical example, you either want to stay in the EU or leave it. But as often is
the case, there could be, and is, some middle ground or various shades of grey, or
however you want to describe them. You could leave but remain part of a customs
union, or you might simply leave and trade on WTO terms. (You probably know all the
arguments so I won’t repeat them all here….). Or, like Parliament, you just can’t make
your mind up.
One particular food product which you spread on your toast makes a particular issue
of the apparent fact that you either hate it or love it – that there is no in-between. Yet
as with most things, there are probably many people who think it’s OK, it’s not your
favourite thing to spread on your toast but you’d have it if there was not much else
around. Or perhaps some days you’d choose it above other spreads and on other days
you wouldn’t. Perhaps we should have a vote in Parliament about it!
e-Learning or Tutor-led training?
Now when it comes to methods of delivering training, there is often a tendency to
think that you either use e-Learning or you go to a classroom based course. Or that
you either think e-Learning is no good, whilst going on a course is great.
The reality is that, as with most things, it’s not that simple.
Yes, it is probably possible that you could deliver all the staff training in your
organisation through e-Learning and abandon conventional tutor-led courses entirely.
Equally, you could decide that e-Learning is not ‘proper’ training and therefore isn’t
worth pursuing. Your view might be that to get satisfactorily trained, you need to go
somewhere and sit in a classroom.
In truth, they are very different forms of training delivery, and because they are
different, they both have different attributes, pluses and minuses. You pays your
money and you takes your choice. But I would argue that, for learners, it is always
better to have a choice.
It’s not all about money – or is it?
Tutor-led training tends to cost a lot more than e-Learning. It also takes employees
away for a day or more, and there may be costs associated with travel and perhaps
accommodation too. Furthermore, you might have to wait several weeks until the
course is being run, when your training need might be immediate.
e-Learning courses tend to be available when you want them. Just log in and away you
go and do an hour here and an hour there, so that it doesn’t disrupt your working day.
It also tends to be consistent, so you know everyone has been trained to the same
level. Whether it is the appropriate level will, of course, depend on the quality and
depth of the course.
Now if the e-Learning falls a bit short, then you might have to go away on a course for a
day or two, but that course could be constructed to build on the e-Learning course,
meaning that everyone who attends are starting from a fairly equal footing. It also
means that the course might be shorter than it otherwise would have been had the e-
Learning course not covered the basics.
Some people may find that they simply can’t learn much through e-Learning, that it is
too passive, despite varying degrees of interactivity. Others might learn more on their
computer and are terrified of being, as they see it, exposed in front of others as not
very knowledgeable. Or maybe they are just not outgoing enough to get the most out
of the participative nature of classroom based courses.
Blended is splendid!
Using e-Learning alongside, to compliment or supplement tutor-led training – or any
other form of training delivery for that matter – is often called ‘blended learning’. A
blend is often better than one extreme or the other. And not everyone is the same so
having options means that you can provide training that meets individual’s preferred
So perhaps to break the Brexit impasse, we need to find a blend. But best not go there
as a blend isn’t the answer for everyone. And nor is e-Learning, but it is for some!