There will always be a need for classroom-based or laboratory-based training, but there has never been a better time to explore the possibilities of some form of e-learning.
With the quality and speed of Internet Connectivity generally, it is now possible to hold training sessions live on the Web, with an instructor conducting the training session while participants follow the instructor and in some cases react interact in real time. It is possible to schedule an event and have delegates or employees log in ready to engage with the instructor. This form of e-learning is often termed synchronous, as there is an input from all participants.
Another form of online training involves a presentation being made by a company or training organisation, with a voice-over from the instructor. Although there is not an instructor able to react in real time to questions, with this type of training the learning can either be recorded so that delegates can stop at any time, rewind or even wind forward. This would facilitate the learner being able to take unscheduled breaks.
A form of online learning that has been around a long time is CBT (Computer-Based Training), where students can receive the training material via email or download, or indeed on a CD-ROM or Bluray Disk. This type of training is self-paced and requires discipline from the students. If the learning is to be validated or assessed then some form of online or offline test or assessment needs to take place. An online assessment can provide the student with his score and provide a record of scores for the training department or training provider.This type of training is not normally delivered over the Internet and so cannot be termed Web-based.
So, back to online web-based training, which can be provided with audio, video, electronic whiteboarding and other electronic aids. If the training requires configuration exercises such as with software or maybe equipment hardware, it is possible for students to log onto platforms to enable real-time configuration rather than have to have the equipment or platforms in front of them.
Some instances of e-learning involve the use of Virtual Classrooms where students can meet to share ideas and access many types of learning materials such as voice, video and graphics. In some cases an instructor can be present in the Virtual classroom to mentor groups and individuals to ensure the learning is being effective and to stop some students from getting bogged down in certain areas, and therefore, in some cases losing interest or becoming frustrated. There are now many companies offering online learning packages, allowing training organisations and departments access to a medium for the setting up of various styles of e-learning.
My own training company are in the process of evaluating online learning, with a view to converting some of their classroom-based training courses to these methods.
This article on Online Training as written by David Christie, MD at NSTUK Ltd, Website http://www.nstuk.com