They present an excellent opportunity to access education. However, this mode of learning is certainly not for everyone and, for every person who realises the advantages of distance education, an equal or greater number recognise the important advantages of face to face training.
Despite advances in technology and greater freedom in the delivery of financial training, it is a huge relief to know that classroom training is here to stay.
Research shows that among the highest performing and most successful companies, face to face training remains the most dominant and most preferred form of training provision. Research also shows that this is unlikely to change in the future and that classroom training is so preferred because of the unique qualities and learning opportunities that arise when face to face instruction occurs.
Benefits of face to face classroom workshops for financial training include:
- Through face to face communication, additional information is available such as that deduced through body language, tone, volume and modulation of voice. Altogether, face to face communication offers a greater richness of information.
- Technology often does not facilitate the right type or quantity of information being shared or exchanged. This means that learning potential can be limited.
- Humans (including management) frequently prefer to communicate face to face. This preference exists even when staff are required to travel or be otherwise inconvenienced.
- In an instructional relationship, the role of the instructor is complex. They are required to assess the student’s learning and potential, provide considered feedback and adapt the way that they instruct to be best meet the needs of their students. However, the student is not entirely passive in this relationship, as they give the instructor valuable information about how they are progressing, areas in which they are doing well and those that would benefit from further input. It is quite widely agreed that distance learning inhibits the success and impact of this relationship. Additionally, some instructors have found that when delivering financial training courses, it is far more difficult to reach and fulfil their training objectives.
- Employers and other consumers will often show a preference for a qualification achieved through face to face classroom workshops above a distance education finance course. This is because there are situations where distance learning negatively impacts on the quality of the relationship between instructor and student to the point that learning objectives may be impossible to achieve.
- Through distance education, non-verbal body language and the wealth of information that they provide are completely lost. In such a situation it is usually unlikely that an instructor will pick up on confused expressions or spontaneous questions. For the student, the way that course content is imparted can seem impersonal and sterile.
- Personalisation of learning can also be lost through distance learning. Face to face delivery of financial training courses allows students to share their personal experiences, thoughts and challenges in relation to the content. This can be a rich source of learning and one that many students miss when undertaking distance education.
- Training goals can most effectively be achieved when course instruction and the relationship between instructors and students is dynamic. Such dynamism is often lost through financial training undertaken in a distance education form.
The technologies used to deliver distance education finance courses can be appealing in terms of speed and ongoing expense. However, they are not appropriate for all training situations. Businesses and individuals should carefully evaluate options to determine the best way for learning to occur and strategies for achieving the best outcomes through finance courses.