Weaknesses of online and face-to-face learning

by L&D21 Sep 2016
One of the problems with traditional face-to-face learning is it can involve people sitting in rows and never talking to each other, according to the leadership thought leader Nigel Paine.

Instead, they look at a teacher who gives them content that they could have accessed on a PDF, he told L&D Professional.

“Good face-to-face learning engages and exploits the fact you have got a really interesting group of people who can learn from each other as much as from anyone called a teacher,” he said.

Face-to-face learning can also be very costly and take people away from their job.

“Sometimes they have to fly to places and that is expensive. Therefore, you should treat it as a precious commodity and use it very wisely,” he said.

Paine added that it doesn’t matter whether the rise of online learning is good or bad because it’s something that’s “inevitable”.

Just like face-to-face learning, online learning has many manifestations. It can be community-based, it can be synchronous, it can be asynchronous, it can be 10 minutes or it can be a “15-hour long-term exploration”.

Paine believes online learning is now accounting for probably more than 50% of learning and in lots of organisations it could be up around 60% or 70%.

“The key now is to think about online learning in terms of the way people live,” he said.

“People today like to access a smartphone which apparently we do 200 or 300 times a day.

“The idea that online learning means you sit at a desk behind a desktop computer is nonsense.”

The best online learning is a combination of various forms of learning, including engaging people on smartphones and tablets.

“But it’s not good to take something which fits on a 21 inch desktop and squeeze it onto a phone-size screen so it’s totally illegible and absolutely useless,” said Paine.

“I am talking about reconfiguring learning for a smartphone. Most of us don’t sit there for hours looking at our phone, we access it for 30 seconds or so. We don’t write essays on a phone, we send a two-line text.”

Nigel Paine is the author of the new book: Building Leadership Development Programmes: Zero Cost to High Investment Programmes that Work (Kogan Page). It is released at the end of September. He recently spoke at the ‘Leadership in an age of disruption’ event in Melbourne hosted by DeakinDigital and DeakinPrime.

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