Clearly doubt exists in the minds of many leaders and managers about the value of online training, particularly when people are seeking to get some quantifiable return for the investment they make in any such training.
But the bigger problem is the opportunity that you miss when this doubt causes you to avoid online professional development completely.
Today that's a costly mistake and totally unnecessary!
I've been developing, testing and adapting the online aspects of professional development for about 5 years now. Our main focus has been on an area that has not generally been done well by providers ... problem solving, improvement skills development.
In this article I want to tell you what to look for if you are going to utilise online professional development that works for you and creates value.
WHAT ONLINE TRAINING REALLY IS
Let's start by first calling online training what it actually is - self paced training using online resources.
Self paced training has been around for decades in universities, and its pretty much an accepted part of that industry. Online is simply the movement of resources away from printed and hard copy resources to digitally accessed resources. The major advantages are:
* The ability to use a variety of media formats for delivery,
* Almost eliminates the need to carry heavy books around,
* Can revisit lessons and view content again and again.
5 CHARACTERISTICS THAT WILL HELP YOU GET THE MOST OUT OF ONLINE EDUCATION
These are the 5 characteristics I look for in online professional development offerings before I sign up:
1. Content is delivered in shorter bite sized chunks that give the user simple stepping stones to help them work through the course in smaller time chunks ... they're more likely to do the training under these circumstances
2. Multi media is used fully to deliver information in multiple forms - visual, written, auditory so that students learn in the way that best suits them
3. Content can be revisited, it's not a see it once situation and that's it
4. Certification is not based on a memory test where students complete an examination; certification requires both a demonstration of (a) knowledge, and (b) competency in application
5. If certification is offered, students have access to coaching or mentoring of some kind in a face-2-face classroom or on the job environment - that comes with a strong focus on application of what has been learnt online
WHY ONLINE TRAINING IS NOT THE ANSWER
I don't think so. Online training has its place, and with the technology we have available today, be cautious of any provider who says face-2-face training is no longer required.
In our world of Lean and Six Sigma, we now know that students can absolutely learn the mechanics of any of the tools in an online format. Their ability to apply those tools in the complexities of the workplace and its interaction with human behaviour requires face-2-face coaching and mentoring to compliment the online training.
Our most recent work with Joy Global and other customers has convinced us this is the way to go. By combining online with some classroom, the ultimate benefit for customers is the same quality of outcome, at a much lower cost.
Food for thought.