L&D Best Practices

E-Learning vs. Face-to-Face Training: from the Learner’s Point of View

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Source: An online qualitative study* conducted for CrossKnowledge. The respondent pool consists of 100 learners, men and women, working in various sectors in 4 markets (France, USA, Germany and UK), with different cultures and levels of maturity. All users of e-learning solutions. This approach allows us to understand directly from the learners their perceptions, experiences, and needs.
*Study carried out by SpringVoice, a marketing research and strategy consultancy specializing in questions of positioning, understanding customers and purpose.

As far as learning is concerned, pragmatism rules when it comes to criteria.

Certainly, it’s equally true that learners in general still have a nuanced point of view regarding learning tools. They do not automatically contrast e-learning with face-to-face training. This is mainly influenced by the quality of content as well as the level of interaction.

Learner profiles that are more autonomous and motivated to learn tend to gravitate towards digital learning. They are able to manage and even maximize their digital learning experiences better than they would in a classroom setting. But old habits die hard. Many learners, including 70% of our respondents, still consider classic face-to-face learning as an effective format.

Face-to-face training encourages:

Despite the benefits, this type of training can be more complex to set up: the logistics must be anticipated and arranged and can end up being quite time-consuming and costly. More importantly is the question of quality control; the person teaching the course can directly impact learning results by their level of expertise and how well they communicate their knowledge to the learners.

On the other hand, e-learning still seems to suffer from a generally negative preconception.

This is even more pronounced among learner profiles who already feel overloaded by a high volume of learning options, whether compulsory or optional. Hybrid and especially remote workers can have a feeling of “digital overload” because they are always in front of their screens. This is particularly true in Anglo-Saxon countries like the United Kingdom and the USA, where e-learning practices are more developed.

Reservations, if any, relate primarily to:

At first, I found online learning quite exciting. But it became more and more boring. I was also distracted by incoming calls…

F., 42, Non-Manager, Germany

Digital Learning can reinforce face-to-face training for a truly blended approach.

Nevertheless, the profound benefits of e-learning are well-recognized and have become increasingly relevant to current skill needs. Far from being seen as a replacement, digital learning is emerging as a principal way to acquire skills because it has unique advantages in today’s work environments:

What I like about the e-Learning sessions is being able to choose when I log on, the autonomy and the monitoring of my progress, and being able to do them at my own pace.

F., 48, Manager, France

The dynamic and responsive aspects of Digital Learning are seen as a big plus.

In addition to the many practical advantages inherent in e-learning, it can be customized to the learner’s individual skill level or to address a specific need. Another benefit is the possibility and even encouragement towards interaction, not only within the course context but via peer exchange networks.

Without excluding face-to-face training approaches, the addition of digital learning to an L&D strategy, especially post-COVID, can be beneficial because it supports learner autonomy, individualism and personalization. It is also reactive to the ever-changing needs of learners who are eager to strengthen their skills, effectiveness and agility in an increasingly unpredictable and competitive professional environment.

If you enjoyed this, continue on with the 2nd article in our original research series! Beware the Risk of “Learning Fatigue”