Scrap the conflict

not a case of traditional versus online training, says Investors in People UK
CEO Ruth Spellman, trainers must look at what works for the individual as well
as what benefits the business

is a lot of hype about the conflict between e-learning and conventional
training methods. Is e-learning a fad or is the old way of learning just simply
uninspiring? Today’s businesses are increasingly aware of the need for people
development but the question is how is this best achieved? The fact that there
is merit in both forms of training doesn’t make it an easy choice.

main benefits of e-learning are flexibility and control: employees can learn as
and when it suits them. This is becoming increasingly important as the
workforce changes to include individuals from all walks of life. Working
mothers and part-time workers, for example, can benefit from being able to fit
training around their already hectic schedules. For returners to work or those
wanting to develop their IT skills, e-learning has the additional advantage of
improving familiarisation with technology and software packages.

classroom-based learning, however, also has its advantages. While e-learning
does mean employees can learn in their own time, this can create a sense of isolation.
Learning in a group allows for team-building – it is fun, interactive and
sociable. It is also an escape from the routine of everyday work. Another key
benefit is the presence of a tutor to provide support and guidance.

which method is best? The answer is actually quite simple. Both options offer
key training benefits and these should be tailored to suit individual
productivity and business performance.

in People UK strongly believes employees need a proper development plan,
closely aligned with the organisation’s objectives. These plans need to take
into account employee needs, and ensure they meet broader business aims.

it recognises that no two people and no two organisations are the same and
training needs will vary from business to business. Training should, above all,
be relevant and appropriate whether it be online or in the classroom.

businesses have a dazzling array of learning methods available to them:
materials and technology to suit every business and budget. It may be that a
combination of traditional and modern training methods will work best.

it’s not a case of ‘out with the old and in with the new’. The conflict need
not exist. Learning via the Web is not a replacement for learning in the
classroom -the two can complement each other, offering companies a powerful
tool to unite people development with business goals.

Spellman is CEO of Investors in People UK and chairwoman of the Voluntary
Sector NTO England Committee

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