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Buddy – Online training vs classroom training

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, online training was increasingly in popularity with 77% of US companies using online training programmes in 2017. Closer to home, meanwhile, Sadiq Khan recently pledged £9 million to the online training sector as a means of helping people gain the skills they need on a remote basis. Indeed, the global online training market is set to reach a staggering $325 billion by 2025.

Online training might not quite match the immediacy and the hands-on feedback of classroom training, but that simply can’t happen right now. So, we’re all going to have to start looking for an alternative to help fill skills gaps. Still, some remain hesitant to go that extra virtual mile and reap the benefits of a training experience that is more cost-effective, more convenient and gives employees more flexibility. 

When it comes to food safety and hygiene, standards are going to need to be extraordinarily high, given the current circumstances. So, training has never been more important and right now, online training is perhaps the only viable option. 

The key question, however, is whether or not there might be a way to harness both approaches and cultivate a perfectly integrated online/offline training schedule that is flexible enough to shift alongside market demands.

To help frame the situation a little more clearly, we’ll start by outlining the benefits of each approach.

The benefits of classroom training

The Buddy has always offered traditional classroom training courses in everything from food safety to manual handling and risk assessment. Our courses are offered at multiple levels and can be customised to suit almost any situation. We have found that our traditional training courses offer (amongst other things) the following benefits:-

“Cultivate a deeper and more personal understanding of the subject.”

Depth – Classroom training generally offers a more well-rounded education that is more than being taught to pass a course. Whilst online courses are, by their nature, focused on the essentials, classroom training allows for a more informal relationship to develop between the trainers and the trainees and, as a result, they should be able to cultivate a deeper and more personal understanding of the subject.

Retention of information – It’s been theorised that we retain far more information when actively engaged in problem-solving and discussion than when simply being told something. A classroom offers the opportunity for those discussions to take place and for a fluid exchange of ideas that is so much more difficult in an automated environment. 

Learning by doing – With online courses, you’re relying primarily on the virtual environment and are learning in a less tangible way. In a face-to-face classroom situation, however, you are able to see firsthand the results of your actions and get access to immediate feedback on what you’ve learned and accomplished. It’s perfect for tasks involving physical skill and situations in which employees need to learn quickly and efficiently.

The benefits of online training

To ensure nobody is left behind in this tumultuous and uncertain time, we’ve put together a range of online courses that cover the same ground as our traditional courses. They offer the following benefits:-

Cost – This is the big one. An online training course will often cost less than its traditional counterpart. We can afford to offer these courses for a significantly lower price because fewer resources are involved in setting them up and it doesn’t require us to physically transport a member of our team potentially halfway across the country. With businesses undoubtedly looking to shave pennies from their budgets wherever possible in the months that follow lockdown, migrating your training programmes online (at least in part) could save you a valuable budget.

Convenience – Online training platforms allow employees to conduct their training sessions wherever and whenever suits them best. As long as they have access to a stable internet connection then they will be free from scheduling that limits traditional classroom training, where everyone has to be available at the same time and the same place. The accessibility of online courses is a major benefit that has been made even more obvious by recent events.

Safety – In a world where we’re constantly being told to minimise contact and keep infection rates to an absolute minimum, online training is comfortably the safest and most secure option.

The best of both worlds – an integrated approach

As you can see, both approaches have their benefits, but what if there was a way to blend both? A balanced integrated approach that moves with the needs of the market could very well be the answer: a course that can begin online and then pivot to the classroom when classroom training is able to resume and a course where both approaches perfectly complement one another.

Online and classroom training

Blended learning is a flexible approach that could represent anything from 80% online courses with occasional in-person sessions to once-a-week classroom sessions backed up by follow-up digital courses. It could even follow the example set by companies such as Highfield International, which has instigated a ‘qualify at home’ system in recent months that offers individuals the ability to take invigilated exams remotely.

“The requirements often change and there is always so much more to learn.”

Ultimately, however, with the current situation, food businesses who might be considering training for their staff might need to look at online-only options as a necessity, at least for the foreseeable future. But that doesn’t mean they can’t later supplement what they learn online with a classroom course further down the line, once social distancing restrictions have been lifted. When it comes to health and safety and particularly food handling and preparation, the requirements often change and there is always so much more to learn.

Moving with the market

Last year, 59% of learning and development professionals spent more of their budget on online training than they did three years ago and over a third spent less on traditional training. With the COVID-19 pandemic further normalising remote work and training, those numbers look set to diverge even more rapidly.

Whatever fresh challenges the next few months throw our way, employee training is always going to be an incredibly important part of business development, particularly in businesses that centre around food handling and food preparation. So why waste time waiting for the world to return to normal when you could be giving your employees, your business and your brand the best possible chance to make a serious impression in a post-pandemic world?

Find out more about the Buddy and take a look at our online courses. 

Images via Unsplash and Pixabay

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