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Best Training Practices
Will Kenny
3927 York Ave N
Robbinsdale, MN 55422

The Value of Online Training

online delivery should not be an end in itself

(reprinted from The Training Tipsheet)

I recently bumped into an old friend who does a lot of training development for large companies. I hadn't seen her in a while, and as we were catching up, she mentioned her frustration with one of her clients who was taking the "all training must be online" approach.

She and I have both been in this business a long time, and it's a syndrome we have encountered quite a few times. When clients ask either of us to develop a new course with a statement like, "and of course, it will be delivered online," we sometimes are naughty.

We ask, "Why?"

It is not that we are stick-in-the-mud, living-in-the-past training developers. Either of us would be delighted to take full advantage of the available technology to produce the best possible results. Properly used, online training delivery is a wonderful thing.

Properly used.

What bothers us is the one-size-fits-all assumption that online delivery is always the best option. The reality is that just about every aspect of any training activity or tool should involve a thoughful and deliberate design decision.

Quite frankly, the availability of fast and easy-to-use development tools for online courses has seduced some people into thinking that "getting it online" is the biggest obstacle to delivering effective training. It is like thinking that formatting a document is the biggest obstacle to writing clearly.

Modern word processing allows you to dress up lousy thinking and poor writing in exquisite fonts and layout. It also allows you to be highly cost ineffective, as more time is wasted on formatting then is spent on thinking clearly.

Similarly, online course delivery is often seen as a major source of cost savings. It makes people feel good about delivering a better ROI (Return On Investment) from training activities.

But the best way to boost ROI is to deliver more effective training. With too much focus on cheap delivery, a good ROI could just mean you got very little in the way of results, but you spent so little on delivery that even poor results were able to clear a very low quality bar.

Poor training at very low cost is a poor value for the organization.

By all means, online delivery should be considered as an option for any training activity. But choosing that option automatically is just a shortcut.

Whether it's one-on-one coaching, an online course, or seminar room filled with participants, I'm not a great believer that any one format is always right for every training need. Just because it gets easier and easier, and cheaper, to put your training online doesn't mean that online delivery is the magic potion that will turn every training event into an effective and worthwhile activity, one that contributes to the success of your company.

Ask "Why?"

© 2012 Best Training Practices -- Will Kenny

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