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Choosing the Best Method of Learning for Your Staff

See also: Learning Styles

Though it may not be at the top of every agenda, finding the best way for your staff to learn is critical for business success.

For a business to operate to its full potential, its staff need to continually employ new ideas, absorb knowledge and handle information. Therefore it is crucial to find the best way to educate your employees if you want your organisation to succeed.

This is not always an easy task though and with so much choice now available, how do you decide on which method to choose?

The answer will depend on the individual needs of your staff and your business.

Classroom Learning

The classroom is a tried and trusted learning environment with many key advantages.

For example, the structured and disciplined setting can be really beneficial for staff when learning about a new subject, and the feedback gained from the on-hand expert tutors can be very valuable in developing understanding of a subject.

For businesses, a major advantage of the classroom is that large scale training can be planned in advance and class attendance can be easily monitored.

However, there are still drawbacks to the classroom environment. For instance, the ‘one size fits all’ nature of classroom learning does not always cater to the individual needs of staff with a range of learning styles. Furthermore, the inflexibility of timetables could hinder business productivity if there is an unexpected busy period and staff are scheduled to be out of the office.

Importantly, it can also cause undue stress for an employee if they are unable to attend a lesson due to other commitments, and it can be more difficult for them to catch up.

Online Learning

Classroom is certainly not the only option any more however.

Technology is an ever-present factor in our lives today, and this has allowed education to use different methods and mediums in order to deliver content.

Online learning is a method widely available today, which brings its own advantages and disadvantages.

Many major businesses are using online learning for at least some of their training and development, with an estimated 50% of UK companies training more than 50% of their staff online, meaning the UK online market is said to be worth over £565 million at the time of writing.

Higher education institutes are also using online opportunities more and more, allowing students across the globe access to high quality education that they may not previously have been able to attend or afford. For example, massive open online courses, or MOOCS, have become more commonplace at Universities and this year both the Open University (OU) and the University of Leeds have allowed students to use a MOOC to study part of their degree course.

One of the main benefits of online learning is the flexibility it provides for both the business and employees.

With the ubiquity of mobile devices, staff can access course information virtually anywhere, from the sofa at home to the bus on the way to work. They can also learn in a way that suits them and at the right speed to ensure they fully understand a topic. Businesses also benefit from this increased flexibility, as there is less time wasted travelling to and from classrooms and centres, and learning can be staggered meaning there is less chance of a mass cohort exodus at business-critical times.

However, this does not necessarily mean that learning online is right for every business. Staff need to be self-motivated to complete the course material and progression and procrastination need to be monitored closely. This means regular motivation and deadlines are still needed to keep studies on track.

Choosing the Right Method

So is there a clear benefit to online learning over classroom learning?

It all depends on effectiveness that the method brings to the individual student and business.

The self-motived student, who cannot attend lectures for reasons beyond their control, can benefit from online courses which allow them to watch lecture recordings in the comfort of their own home.

Similarly, a student that finds the pace of the classroom too fast (or too slow!) might benefit from being able to learn at their own pace online, for example slowing down videos at complex ideas in order to fully grasp the subject matter.

However, for a student with little self-discipline or motivation, the classroom might be preferable to online courses.

Online and classroom are two popular methods of learning, but there are other options available such as distance learning and blended solutions.

To choose the right learning method for your business you first must determine the key training issues that your company faces and then pick the training method that best addresses these.

It is therefore crucial to have the freedom to choose between many different learning options, with clear indications provided of the advantages and disadvantages of each.

From an educator’s perspective, the key challenge is to ensure that, whichever study method is chosen, the course is of high quality and designed to produce great results.

About OnDemand

Kaplan now offers a new and exciting way to study for its CIMA examinations - OnDemand for CIMA.

OnDemand is a flexible way of learning that works around your business, combining the benefits of classroom learning with the convenience and flexibility of virtual study. It can be accessed outside of office hours, or you can set the amount of office time dedicated to study - limiting downtime during business-critical times.

This method of learning is perfect for organisations requiring a consistent and flexible approach across boundaries and time zones, without wishing to risk pass rate success.

About the author

Stuart Pedley-Smith, Head of Learning for Kaplan Financial, has been involved with training and educating finance professionals for over 20 years. He is especially interested in the process of learning and the exam skills and techniques that contribute towards success in the classroom and in life.

Stuart has written two books – The E word – Kaplan’s Guide to Passing Exams and A student’s guide to writing Business Reports.