"Online training doesn't work in our industry. Just a waste of time. How do you expect people to learn how to be a bricklayer watching cartoons on their iPad. Face to face training is the only thing that works."
To be clear, this article has absolutely nothing to do with Brick Laying. It's just an examples in the case for face to face training. One of those many practical skills that hard-core tradies are adamant you'll never learn sitting in front of a computer.
How many times have you heard this story? But is it true? Can you learn to build a 3 story brick homes via an online course? According to Bunnings "How to build a brick wall" - Yes. It is possible to learn brick laying from a YouTube video, one of the many tools used in eLearning.
Of course you could go beyond the video and add a quiz as an online assessment. Asking 20 questions like:
Q1 What tool did the presenter use to "plumb down" on the brick work?
1. A Spade
2. A Spirit level
3. A string line
4. A Trowel
Let's say your learner watches the video and gets 100% in your assessment. Does that make him a trained and qualified brick layer? Would you trust that learner to build your 3 storey, 5 bedroom home?
So what do you instinctively know, in your gut, that tells you "the hard-core tradies are actually right. Online training really doesn't work in those industries"?
Simple: there's a world of difference between "learning" something in theory and "training" to acquire COMPETENCY in a skill. Until your learner gets his hands dirty building walls, BBQs, corners, letter boxes and proving that he can consistantly lay bricks to a standard that complies with building regulations he ain't a qualified and trained brick layer.
Sitting in front of a computer, watching a video won't ever give your learners that part. And since 70% of competency (according to the 70:20:10 philosophy) is based on experience and only 10% on course work and theory. You'd have to agree, relying on online training alone constitutes a massive competency gap.
But are those hard-core tradies really, really right about face to face training?
I have to say no! Here's why.
The world is never black and white. And here's where most wide-eyed eLearning evangelist shoot themselves in the foot. Instead of being modest and realistic, with full-on annimated voice and gesticulating like mad professors, the one-eyed evangelist will try to convince you that
"Online Training is the way of the future. It covers all your needs. Face to face training is dead and buried!"
Don't buy it, but do listen with one ear!
So if not online or face to face training, then what?
Online training is clearly not the whole solution. But if you combine online and face to face training, with mentoring, assignments and team exercises in the right proportions, at the right time you will have a very powerfull set of tools in your training & assessment armoury.
The video that I showed you at the start, produced by Bunnings can be a source of knowledge and inspiration. It is a powerfull tool to help your learners absorb the theory and learn the techniques. It's convenient, repeatable, doesn't involve you having to set up a lot of expensive equipment and it can be just as effective as watching a professional trainer perform the same tasks in real life.
Armed with that knowledge your learners should be well prepared to try out the concepts. This is where the face-to-face part comes into play. You can give your learners a series of assessed work items or assignments. They can work in teams and refer to a mentor. They can be continually assessed and graded on thier work.
This is the face-to-face practical, get your hands dirty part that the hard-core tradies are talking about.
They look easy in the video, but even keeping the mud on your trowel is a tricky practical skill that takes time and repeated effort to master.
So is face-to-face training dead?
No - definately not. Because all that's happened is a new and useful tool that may help you deliver the theoretical components of your course have become available to you. And that's it - a new teaching tool, albeit a powerful one. And that really is the extent of all the hype.
So why on earth do so many businesses now invest in LMS solutions that focus exclusively on Online Learning?
Wouldn't it make so much more sense to use an LMS that enables you to integrate both Online and Face-to-face training (Blended learning). Why would you invest in an LMS that delivers only the 10% (course work) leaving you to find other systems and methods of delivering the remaining 90% (practical experience, assessment, mentoring, team work and constructive practical feedback).
What about a good balance of both online and face to face training
The best learning outcomes are delivered when you can effectively integrate your online and face-to-face training. Your LMS should fully support you in the whole Learning and Development experience, not just the 10% course theory.