Face-to-Face vs. Online Training: Separating Myth From Reality

Formal education may end with college degrees, professorship exams, etc but learning is a lifelong process. Online learning is a growing phenomenon which is becoming more acceptable with every passing day, especially in corporate circles.

While the demand for real-time instructor led classrooms has been high in recent years, online learning is making quite an appearance. According to research, the global eLearning market grew to almost $107 billion by 2015. Back in 2010, self-paced eLearning market amassed $32.1 billion in revenue following a five year compound annual growth rate of around 9.2%. However, even with these staggering numbers, many learners and professionals are apprehensive about pursuing online learning opportunities due to many surrounding myths. Face to face, regular courses still retain popularity among working professionals who often take time off from work to pursue regular studying opportunities domestically and abroad.

 

“Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today. “ Malcolm X

 

Today, we are counting down myths that cloud the online eLearning Industry and keep newcomers from enjoying various available educational options. Take a look:

“Employers don’t accept or value credentials earned online”

False!

This is the most notorious reason that misguides students and employees and keeps them from signing up for valuable programs. The Excelsior College and the Zogby organization have been conducting nationwide surveys of recruiters and human resource professionals to check how their perceptions of online certificates and degrees differs and whether they consider it valuable to the resume or not? In 2011, a survey revealed that almost two-thirds of professionals aware of online education agreed that a degree earned online is just as credible as one earned via a traditional, instructor-led, face to face program. Survey Respondents further mentioned that instead of focusing on the type and medium of course taken, they put emphasis on accreditation of the institution that awarded the degree along with the ability and quality of the candidates.

While some still maintain a 90s view of online courses, current trends and research has been defying the notion. Consistently high academic credentials play a vital role in impressing the recruiter and HR team with online courses. As a matter of fact, Starbucks made an announcement about covering partial tuition expenses for their professionals enrolled in Arizona State University’s online undergraduate program.

“All online courses are similar”

False.

ELearning course designers and authors often rely on user-friendly and acclaimed training authoring tools or software tools for training. Many institutions follow restricted budgets that lead to course authors in using pre-designed prototypes and authoring tools. This might even lead to uniformity in courses and the similar pattern may lead to students/learners enrolled in courses opting out due to similarity. Talking of face to face, regular classroom courses, even they retain a certain element of similarity in courses like Q and A sessions, group discussions, random tests, partner projects, etc.

In case of online learning, even though the tool might have been the same, courses differ in terms of content and concept. The use of graphic styles differs along with animation, simulations, color and design. These courses focus on teaching and following an intrinsic approach towards educating. The courses are designed to suit the pace time of learners so they are often designed in a well-categorized way to enable simpler and smaller lessons at a time for the student. While some may follow an uninterrupted approach and contain longer lessons. The methodology adopted by the course author depends widely on the needs of the course takers.

The biggest difference is the structure, design and type of content included in a course. Whilst some courses may follow a text-heavy outline, they aren’t the same as others.

“Online training is confined to a mobile phone or laptop”

Wrong!

Many learners maintain the belief that online training is confined to electronic means of data exchange and computation like desktops, tablet or mobile phones but this is false.

Many online learning courses are now focusing on making a simple, effective amalgamation of real instructor-led training with online lessons. Professional corporate trainers can employ online training software for trainers to assist them in making training program available for everyone, everywhere. Designing course content that is accessible through online modules helps learners in easily accessing course material anywhere, even on the go and this enables a wider approach for the course. However, the courses are not limited to electronic means as many companies and institutions offering eLearning courses that come with specific hours of real, classroom training, enabling face to face interaction.

Many learners often procrastinate their lessons, thinking they can cover them on weekends.  But this is a bad practice. Compared to classroom lessons, this is quite a disadvantage to online learning that it has to be undertaken by learners from home or other space as this gives them too much freedom to choose their lesson time and location. Laziness or bad habits might lead to procrastinated chapters and eventually, the syllabus may get accumulated and may appear too much to cover in one go. So, convenience defined by online learning often doesn’t work in learners’ favor when the latter follow no routine and aren’t punctual about covering specific lessons on daily basis.

“Learners resort to getting papers written by professionals and cheating”

An accusation that is hurled at almost every online course learner is that they are not pulling weight they need to. There is an entire academic content generation industry devoted to writing assignments and papers for students and this is what has led to belief that those writing the papers are not getting the due. Trainers and institutes awarding credits to learners are not aware of who is writing the papers?

However, the issue has been resolved with safe practices followed by student authentication. Many institutions now require students to take face to face exams at a secure testing site and many others have resorted to 3600 cameras and third-party monitors at exam site to supervise the entire procedure.

While many might claim that online training industry still has miles to cover, it is safe to state that it has already lodged itself a place in existing and prospective learners’ memory. Maintaining security and stringency for awarding credits for assignments and papers remains to be an issue of debate among scholars but many have advocated the use of specialized and advanced verification options like retinal scanning, plagiarism detection, fingerprinting (electronic), paper checking for structural, writing style or other major changes, etc to administer who’s taking the exam/writing the paper.

Face-to-face/regular classroom sessions haven’t become obsolete as humans desire interpersonal and real communication as opposed to its virtual counterpart and with their involvement in virtual training, the courses can be made more successful.

kamyanderson91@gmail.com'

Author: kamyanderson91

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