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Online vs face-to-face training: Does it have to be either/or?

February 14th, 2023 - Teaching - Elizabeth Asbury

Online learning has come a long way in the past few years, but those of us who have been working at the coalface for a long time remember cheerfully screaming into the void. Online learning was met with barely concealed disdain by a great many ‘traditional’ classroom educators, as they held face-to-face training as the pinnacle of education provision.

It didn’t seem to matter to them that the educational landscape was changing, that learners now faced spiralling costs, forcing most to work and study simultaneously. They didn’t understand that traditional face-to-face education and training was fast becoming the preserve of an ever-decreasing number of learners. 

And that is the beauty of online learning – it makes education and training available to everyone. Participants can choose to learn when it’s convenient for them, not adhere to a prohibitively scheduled timetable. No longer is training and upskilling only available to those with the time (and money) to put their lives on hold. eLearning can upskill everyone!

But what about those skills that can’t be taught online? Although the Pipi whānau will cheerfully create any training online, even we acknowledge that sometimes practical skills are best acquired in person. And that’s the beauty of blended learning! Participants can tackle theory online and undertake practical upskilling in person. Learners are much more able to attend a one-day practical skills workshop rather than a week-long course. And what’s good for learner is great for providers.

So, by working in partnership, online learning and face-to-face training provide the best possible environment to upskill the largest possible number of participants. It doesn’t have to be online or face-to-face – both is often best!!

About the Author:

Elizabeth Asbury (PhD, MSc, BSc Hons)

Elizabeth has been working in online learning for so long that the vacant stares and looks of pity from ‘traditional’ educators have become a distant memory. Thanks to the early adopters and revolutionary thinkers who understood that online learning was about equity and accessibility, no longer is mentioning eLearning akin to screaming into the void. Her Ph.D in Psychology, post-doc research, and years of working in tertiary and vocational education certainly helped prepare Elizabeth for the fight to bring the amazing opportunities online learning can offer to the widest possible audience.

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