What are the Advantages of Online Courses?
Learn When It Suits You
The biggest benefit of an online training course is being able to learn in your own time and in any location with an internet connection.
Unlike a classroom training course that is run at a particular location and starts at an exact time, online training can be done whenever you like.
This enables you to take the course at times which fit around your job and commitments in your personal life, rather than having to take time out of your busy day to be in a classroom somewhere.
The second attraction for online courses over their classroom counterparts is price.
Courses run in person at a training facility cost the provider a lot of money when things such as trainer salary/fees, heating/air-conditioning, lighting, cleaning, catering and refreshments etc are added up, which needs to be reflected in the selling price.
Online courses have no such associated costs, which means they can be offered at a lower price. An example is the IOSH Managing Safely course which costs £595 + vat as a classroom course, but only £195 + VAT as an online course.
What are the Disadvantages of Online Courses?
The two advantages above are highly compelling, and are usually the main reasons why people who opt for an online course choose to do so. However, it is also worth pointing out the disadvantages and the downsides to choosing an online training course over a classroom one.
Lack of a Course Tutor
The first is the absence of a face-to-face course tutor present in the room.
Whilst some students may prefer learning from a computer rather than having to speak to a tutor or fellow classmates, the reality is that a person is likely to learn so much more information from having an expert in the room who is able to answer questions in detail straight away.
Although many online course providers include support by e-mail, phone etc, it will inevitably involve waits between answers and a lack of two-way dialogue. This issue is especially problematic for time-consuming and comprehensive online health and safety courses that contain a lot of detail and specifics to get your head around.
Trying to Retain Information for Exams
The second significant reason is the amount of information which is being taught and, if it is an online course with one or more assessments afterwards, needs to be absorbed and retained in order to achieve the required pass mark.
During a classroom course, features such as group discussions and activities will all help to break up the day and keep delegate’s attention, which is known to be essential for learning and retaining information.
There is little point in trying to save money by opting for an online course, only to find that you just read text off a screen and retain very little of it. When you fail the exams and have to pay for expensive resits, it becomes a false economy and you would have been better off choosing a classroom course in the first place! Remember, classroom course tutors typically have many years of experience in knowing how best to prepare students for exams and give them the best chance of passing first time.
The Need to Motivate Yourself
Already touched upon in the point above, motivation and attention are key to any successful learning.
Aside from those who have a passion for it, many people would say that health and safety can be a dry topic at times. With topics such as detailed pieces of legislation or steps to take when performing a risk assessment, the subject matter may not exactly capture the imagination. Given the choice between an action film on TV or reading all about the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, it is probably safe to say which one most people would prefer.
And this is the problem that many people find with online courses. They start with the best of intentions, believing that the benefits of online training outweigh the negatives, and spend a still not insignificant amount of money on an online course, only to find not long into it that their motivation is rapidly diminishing as they progress (slowly) through the modules.
If they were on a classroom course, they would to all intents and purposes be forced to pay attention, and they would hopefully be so engaged that they actually enjoy the course and learn what is being taught. But when they are trying to study online at home, surrounded by distractions like television or social media, attention spans soon begin to drift, and information either is quickly skimmed over, or the course is left altogether for an indefinite amount of time.
The purpose of any training is to provide a person with information and knowledge which they can retain and make use of at a future point in time. Whether it be health and safety training to prevent an accident back in the workplace, management training to improve a leader’s delegation skills, or a course to improve a person's effectiveness at training others, there is little point in sitting through it if that person cannot then recall it later on when needed.
All delegates are different, which is why we offer both online courses and classroom training courses, as some people will manage to motivate and discipline themselves enough to successfully complete an online course. Rather than being influenced by the lower price, you need to seriously consider whether or not an online training course is right for you personally.
A major factor in answering this question will be the size and scope of the course itself. Whilst our library of over 80 short online courses - which only take up to a few hours - should be fine for pretty much everybody, if you are considering a qualification such as an online ILM Level 5 Coaching qualification or an online NEBOSH General Certificate course and the prospect of spending days/weeks/months reading information off a screen and having to remember it all, it may be worth just considering whether a classroom course would actually be better.
If you would like some advice on which might be the best route for you and to discuss the various options further, please feel free to call us on 0844 800 3295 or send us an online contact form by clicking on the button below.