No matter what size your company is, you know growing and training your current employees is a lot cheaper than hiring new ones. To translate this into dollars, a U.C. Berkeley study, found it costs $4,000 on average above salary cost to hire a new employee. This figure rises to $7,000 for replacing management-level employees and professionals. And, the Center for Economics and Business Review has found that this cost increases even more for small businesses. Plus, the more you can help your team gain new skills, the more motivated and prepared they will be to excel in their current roles. And the less likely they will be to submit a two-week notice. The issue is how do you choose a learning platform that works company wide? This is where the benefits of blended learning and learning management systems can help.
Online versus classroom learning
But before we get into how effective blended learning can be for your company, let’s talk about online vs. classroom learning in general. If you are using a more traditional classroom setting for training, you may have considered moving to an online environment with the constant technological advancements of today. Or maybe you are finding your online platform, has some drawbacks and is missing a more traditional in-person approach. This is the main benefit of blended learning. You can have both. Before we discuss - why consider blended learning, let’s talk online and classroom learning.
Online benefits and drawbacks
E-learning is simply learning to utilize electronic technologies to access curriculum outside of a traditional classroom. In many corporate learning and training programs, this would be completely virtual. So what are the pros and cons of online learning?
Advantages of online:
- Central learning platform: Your company can store all the tools online and in one central place. This cuts down on lost lesson plans, files being accidentally deleted, and streamlines an organization.
- Saves time: Administering courses or training sessions online, is a lot easier than locating a classroom and coordinating an instructor and a timeslot that works for all employees.
- Flexibility: Being able to access courses when you want them is a huge convenience factor for employees. Plus, employees who are remote or work on the road a lot, can use their own equipment to continue their learning easily.
- Active learning: Vendors that offer LMS’s with message boards and chat rooms increase employee engagement and offer a more interactive environment. This leads to better company discussions, promotes faster learning, and increases employee engagement.
- Repeat what you don’t understand: In a classroom setting, everyone is expected to learn at the same pace. E-learning allows employees to go back to a part of the course they don’t understand. What may take one employee an hour to complete, may take another half an hour. This flexibility allows everyone to learn at their own pace.
Disadvantages of online:
- No human contact: Some employees learn better with face-to-face instruction. This is obviously missing in an online environment.
- Security: Companies need to think about keeping employee information confidential and safe from a hacked system. This level of security can be costly and time-consuming to insure.
- Ensuring work accuracy: You hope you have honest employees, but really an employee could have someone else take their course for them. It’s hard to tell sometimes if employees are doing the work themselves.
- Ways of learning: Some employees will do well with a multiple choice type of quiz and others will do better with an essay format. Usually online will choose a simple way to assess across all employees. This may not give an accurate representation of who mastered the lesson and who did not.
- Theoretical learning: Did you learn more in a college course or in an internship? If you said internship than you can understand this online drawback. Learning solely online gives you scenarios, but no “real-life” ways to implement what you have learned.
Classroom learning benefits and drawbacks
Classroom instruction takes a more traditional approach to training and employee development. Just like you would sit at a desk and listen to a teacher in school, the same is true for classroom training on the job. So what are the pros and cons of using more of a traditional approach to learning?
Advantages of classroom learning:
- Human interaction: Some employees will do better when they have an instructor standing in front of them. They can ask questions, engage in conversations, and ask for further explanation.
- No distractions: When you are online learning, you may have a co-worker come to your desk with unrelated questions. Or maybe you login from home after hours and you encounter family distractions. Sitting in a classroom for an hour gives you undivided attention.
- Promotes team building: When employees take courses in person, it adds a sense of comradery. Everyone is going through this together and peers can help each other out. Plus, breaking off into small groups during these training sessions will help learn the material in a different way. This breaks up the monotony.
- Course material better in person: Not all subject matter is easy to learn online. Sometimes classroom learning is better. For example, a course where case studies are used. Employees giving their own real-life experiences can create scenarios not found in an online course.
- Unrelated course answers: When an employee is studying a subject matter, this may spark an unrelated work question. The instructor and/or the other employees can answer these questions strengthening that employee's learning level beyond what is being taught.
Disadvantages to classroom learning:
- Time off work: Everyone has different deadlines. Finding a time to gather all employees into a classroom can be difficult. Plus, some employees may resent the hour they need to sit in a classroom versus tackling that never-ending inbox.
- Technology is lacking: Usually, in a classroom setting, employees are listening the majority of the time. They are taken away from computers and other tools they utilize on a day-to-day basis. So the process is not as authentic as it should be.
- Large teams: If you employ several employees and you want all these employees to take a course at one time, this can be a challenge. The more employees who attend a training course, the longer it takes to complete and sometimes the less employees are engaged. It also makes interaction and team bonding harder.
- Strain to budget: Classroom training can be costly. You need to find a space to host the course, an instructor, and pay for any classroom materials. Even if you have most of this covered onsite, you need to factor in the time taken away from work hours.
- One learning style: A classroom course has one set curriculum. Although this can be varied with what materials are used, there is one message to all employees. When you have 20 personalities in one room, this style of learning may not work for everyone. Some people learn with timed quizzes, others in small groups, and some prefer a lecture where they can take notes. This won’t work with a one size fits all classroom approach.