Weighing The Positives And Negatives Of Remote Learning

The Positive And The Negative Impacts Of Remote Learning

The recent surge in the development of systems to remotely deliver training content has given rise to the question of its value. This is especially the case since most industries have been making the move to digital from storage servers to administrative tools and resources. To answer what the value of remote learning is, we have to understand what it is. According to Jeff Toms, Director of Marketing & Client Services at Farnham Castle, it is...

The remote delivery of training using a variety of different methods including: e-learning courses over the internet, live webinars, live face-to-face internet training and pre-prepared, tailored podcasts.

From Toms’ definition, we can see that remote learning is a multi-versatile platform, but it also has its share of both positive and negative associations.

Positive Impacts

The positive impacts of remote training can be categorized 3 ways. These are:

  1. Cost-efficacy, the cost to develop, implement, and train employees.
  2. Resource availability, quality and availability of trainers and training materials.
  3. Convenience, meaning the training’s flexibility, customization, and accessibility.

1. Cost-Efficient

The face-to-face training interface requires both the trainers and the trainees to be in the same geographical location. If you have a spread-out business, “this can involve time off, transportation costs and even airfare and accommodation” (The Benefits of Remote Training).

However, the remote learning interface eliminates much of the these costs, because of the nature of the internet and communications technology. Now, a training session can be conducted between multiple locations located anywhere on the planet, creating a much smaller cost to a company for employee time and transportation.

2. Resource Availability

Because of scheduling conflicts, travel, visas, etc. it is not possible to have the best teachers and instructors at every face-to-face training. This means that information may pass through several channels before it is given to the intended employees. This creates a possibility for breakdown in communication.

Remote learning alleviates the obstacles to selecting the optimal trainer or instructor in many cases. It allows for trainees to access the best available resources for the intended training which decreases the chance of communication breakdown.

3. Convenience

Face-to-face training needs to abide by a rigid schedule. It can’t allow for outside factors beyond a trainee’s control like bad weather, travel issues, or other emergencies.

On the other hand, remote training can compensate for these things as it can be much more adaptive to the trainee’s schedule.

And, unlike the face-to-face interaction, remote training is customizable to a trainee’s needs. It can register a trainee’s responses and tailor the learning experience to them, making each employee onboarding experience as unique as the user.

Negative Associations

Despite many positive impacts, there are negative associations that have arisen against remote learning. They can also be broken down into 3 broad categories that includes:

  1. The level of anonymity that trainers and learners may feel utilizing the virtual interface instead of the face-to-face one.
  2. The lack of direct human interaction can make learners feel disconnected from the material.
  3. The perceived barrier virtual learning places on pure communication, or the eBarrier in communication.

1. The Level Of Anonymity

Where face-to-face training does not allow for anonymity, remote training does. When training in a face-to-face setting, the trainer and the learners are all visible to one another, making individual anonymity virtually impossible, which can create a more connected learning environment.

Because remote learning is done through a virtual interface, it allows the trainer and their trainees to be disconnected to a certain degree. In contrast to the face-to-face approach, remote learning tends to create a certain level of disconnection between learners and their instructor.

2. The Lack Of Direct Human Interaction

By design, the face-to-face training interface incorporates interpersonal interaction. It allows for people to communicate in a controlled environment. However, unlike face-to-face training, remote training does not have the built-in capacity for human interaction.

Because the primary interactions of the trainer and the trainee are sophisticated machines and virtual systems the human element can become mired in translation. This can, in turn, become detrimental because human beings are social in nature.

3. The eBarrier In Communication

The Director of Training Choice, Salah Banna has said "richness of information and memorable experiences are deduced through behavior and body language, including one’s mannerisms, gestures, tone, language, and volume of voice”. This is evident in the transition from the face-to-face training interface to remote learning.

There are certain mannerisms that our current computer technology cannot pick up such as gestures and body language. This can change the intended meaning of a certain training, or omit that meaning altogether.

In Conclusion

So, while the positive impacts of remote training have not completely stepped out of the shadow of its negative associations, its future is bright as technology continues to advance and erase these negative associations. At this point in its evolution it is more of a way to supplement face-to-face trainings. Though, when technology is advanced enough, it can be the bridge to the next stage in the evolution of training interfaces.

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