So, is it an either or an or?

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

learning styles.

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!

Andy Stevenson

Type&Test Ltd