Your boss is complaining your emails are confusing and your PowerPoint presentations are, well, boring. So you've finally decided to take action. The options? A. Face-to-face workshop or B. Online learning.Which will it be? Which is more appealing? Which is more effective?A. Face-to-face: You're in an airless room; the coffee is tasteless and you're reaching for yet another doughnut you really don't need. You're trying to absorb an enormous amount of information that's being jam-packed into one day. Your mind is starting to feel a little bit like that doughy doughnut; your eyes are glazing over. And it's only been half a day.OR:B. Online: You're at your computer in your own comfy office or workstation (or working at home). You have a freshly brewed cup of java within reach and your favorite snack, the one that always gives you real brain energy. You're looking forward to getting back last week's assignment from your online mentor so you can move ahead with your personal growth in business communication skills.
Thumbs up if you prefer scenario B? I rest my case.Of course, whether you choose to take a business course face-to-face in a workshop, or online in surroundings of your choice isn't just a matter of having better coffee and snacks! From my experience as the Director of The Language Lab people are more likely to retain information when instruction is provided gradually over time, rather than crammed into a shortened period. It's simply more difficult to allow for real reflection and absorption of information in a short workshop than it is through a two-month online program.I've had plenty of senior staff in a range of businesses confirm this perspective. They acknowledge that information presented in a one or two day workshop, or in a "lunch and learn" session, just doesn't stick the way knowledge gleaned over a longer period of time does. And here's the explanation:Why Online Business Courses Are BetterPractice Over Time: To incorporate new ideas and concepts into your daily routine, you need to practice for at least a couple of months, if not more, to assimilate the learning.Flexibility: You can study business courses online anywhere, anytime, on a variety of electronic devices, from a desktop computer to your portable tablet.Modernity: We live in the world of the Internet and most of us are in front of computers the better part of the day. Why not take advantage of our electronic, wireless reality.Mentoring: With online learning it's easy to offer one-on-one, detailed feedback. It's a lot more challenging, if not impossible, to give individual attention to each person in a workshop with 20-25 people.Reflection: Online courses are structured so that you have time in between lessons and assignments to reflect on what you've learned, to mull over the information, and to ask questions if needed.Customization: Online business courses such as the ones offered by The Language Lab can be tailored to meet the needs of individuals, and specific industries.Better Coffee: Oh right, we've already covered that! [See Scenario "B," top of post]But seriously, there are distinct advantages to taking business courses online. A few years ago I consulted for the Ontario Ministry of Education on a research study, investigating the power of online courses. It came as no surprise that people taking courses in remote parts of the province preferred online learning. What did surprise me was that even those interviewees in urban centers, who preferred face-to-face learning opportunities, said they'd still rather take courses online, because of the flexibility they offered. (And, of course, there's the freshly brewed java!)