Face to Face Versus eLearning

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We were recently asked if we provided an eLearning version of our TRUST: Recognising Vulnerabilities and Making Reasonable Adjustments training sessions. Our enquirer really liked the course outline and was excited about the benefits it could bring their team, business and customers. The only issue was that they’d been asked to find an eLearning solution. Which led to a really interesting discussion about whether the delivery of the course content impacts on the effectiveness and long-term benefit of training. It was such an interesting debate, I thought I’d share it here.


Traditionally, all training was delivered face-to-face and staff members would take time away from their desks to focus on the topic. Today, many learners still prefer the discipline and familiarity that face-to-face learning brings, but there is no denying that eLearning can offer benefits to learning. It's clear that both eLearning and face-to-face learning methods have their own set of unique advantages and disadvantages.


Given our contact had been tasked with finding an eLearning option, we started exploring the expected benefits. The self-paced nature of eLearning can be very attractive to modern learners as well as organisations which are keen to develop their staff through training and development, as each staff member completes the course at a pace that’s comfortable for them and reflects their skills and experience as to how fast they can absorb and understand the course materials. They can dip in and out of training modules around other work and there’s the consistency of pre-recorded materials that ensures that every attendee has the same experience.


With all these benefits in mind, our contact was keen to understand why we don’t offer an eLearning version of our TRUST sessions. Our answer is that we feel there’s a place for both types of learning, but that some subjects warrant the higher cost and admin typically associated with live training.


We believe that the subject of recognising vulnerability, whether that’s customers, supporters, donors or staff members, is a highly sensitive topic that deserves our delegates’ full attention. It demands more skills and understanding than learning how a computer or information system works, for example. It’s nuanced and requires soft skills as well as considering facts and data.


We offer live training sessions typically with two trainers present in every session as this offers many benefits. Firstly, our sessions are often a half or full day session and that’s a long time to hear just one voice! More importantly, by having two trainers in the room one can be talking and one can be scanning the room to ensure that all attendees are engaged, following the content or may have been triggered. With live trainers the sessions become interactive, questions can be asked, and clarification sought with answers provided in the moment. You get the added benefit of access to wider experience too. Our trainers can flex and adapt the content to suit each group within each room. We can draw on our experience and knowledge of the subject matter and can introduce case studies as necessary. Whilst this means we’re not delivering an identical session for every group, it does ensure that each group gets a tailored experience, and we work to the pace of the group. When we have two trainers present in the same room, we can provide additional support as needed.


Our training delivers the greatest impact for our clients when it’s prefixed with some consultancy work. We work with clients to review and understand their vulnerable people’s policies (internal and external), we assess procedures, processes and systems around vulnerability. We can then embed this into each client’s training sessions, taking the subject matter from purely theoretical into being very practical and relevant. That’s the joy of a live bespoke training session - the hard work and application of the topics have already been considered and ‘baked in’ to the training.


The pre-training consultancy brings the whole workstream together, the policy stops being a document gathering dust on a shelf, instead it becomes a living, breathing ‘thing’ that teams are well versed in and can easily apply, The teams also know when to raise flags if the policy doesn’t work for a particular individual’s circumstance - they can make appropriate reasonable adjustments and they close the feedback loop so that the whole organisation benefits through the Vulnerability Champions continuing to drive for improvement and know how to adapt for changes within the marketplace.


In our experience, unless the eLearning session is recorded for each organisation you often find generic information in the sessions which relies on the staff members understanding or interpreting what that advice means to their organisation which can result in confusion and inconsistency in application. Whilst for many topics we agree eLearning is fantastic, we do feel that Vulnerability training is better when delivered live. It's not a black or white subject matter, hence the regulators have been unable to be prescriptive in what’s required in every situation.


And it seems that many firms agree with us too. RBL’s clients see the following benefits that face-to-face training encourages;

Dialogue – which stimulates learning


Human contact – to promote cohesion, trust and consistency


Involvement – sharing experiences and comparing yourself with others, more interactive, fewer distractions


Appreciation – training is offered to help the learner develop their skills, better communication


Follow-up - once the training has been delivered there’s an opportunity to reinforce what’s been learned through real world application and for firms to measure progress

In summary, we agree that there is a time and a place for eLearning but we firmly believe that the subject matter of customers, supporters, donors or staff members in vulnerable circumstances is one that warrants face-to-face interactive sessions. To date, no two clients have come to us with identical needs or starting positions and so for our training to be most effective, it needs to reflect the uniqueness of the organisation we are working with.

We encourage sharing of case studies which can be debated (we also have a practical case study workshop session available as a module within our training suite). We find the course materials stimulate thought which leads to questions and requests for advice, we answer those within the session so our delegates leave feeling valued and confident.

Finally, we build trust with the delegates and show them how to build trust with their customers, supporters or staff members. Afterall, trust underpins any relationship and if you want to be able to correctly identify a contact in a vulnerable circumstance and be able to make the most appropriate reasonable adjustment, you’re going to need TRUST.

And I expect you’re wondering... our enquirer liked our approach so much they decided to go ahead and book the live sessions with us. They were absolutely delighted with the results and are keen to develop an ongoing programme of support from our trainers.

If you’d like to find out more about how we can help your organisation to recognise vulnerability and make reasonable adjustments through live, bespoke training sessions with our friendly experts, please get in touch.

Jacqui Workman
Associate Consultant & Trainer, Trust Sessions

Photo: JESHOOTS.COM at Unsplash

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