Like many businesses, the Tactics team went through video-conferencing boot camp during lockdown. While we’d worked remotely on our consulting assignments for years, delivering our Structured Writing workshops via Zoom was a steep learning curve. We had to restructure the course material into shorter sessions, rejig exercises and learn the ins and outs of a new medium.
Fortunately, our instructor proved a natural in front of the camera and the workshops were well received.
So, is remote delivery the way of the future? Or do people learn better in a classroom?
Pros and cons of remote workshop delivery
For one of our inhouse workshop clients, remote delivery solved a number of problems:
- More flexible scheduling, with shorter sessions that fitted around other work commitments
- No travel time and cost for team members from different parts of the country, and
- No room hire and catering expenses.
Delivering the workshops remotely meant the client could get the training sooner with less downtime for staff and at a lower cost.
But did they get the same bang for their bucks? The jury is out on that one, but our observations of the downsides of remote workshops include:
- More distractions: Because people participate in remote workshops from their own computers, emails or instant messages constantly compete for their attention. We observed that participants regularly tuned out of the workshop to read or reply to messages.
- Less personalisation: Remote workshops make it harder to cater to different learning styles and identify participants who struggle or lag behind.
- Less group discussion: Participants contribute less to group discussions, particularly in larger groups. Group exercises are harder to manage in virtual breakout rooms than with people sitting around a table.
Advantages of classroom-based learning
Yes, classroom-based workshops may involve travel, a greater upfront time commitment and the cost of room hire. But classroom learning has distinct ‘pros’, including:
- The human aspect: We’re social animals and often learn best with and from others, who can reinforce the relevance and importance of what we’re learning. An experienced instructor constantly observes body language, different learning styles and levels of engagement, and adjusts the pace and content as needed.
- No distractions: Being in a different environment, at a dedicated time, without interruptions from phones, emails or colleagues, allows people to immerse themselves in the training and keep their minds free for learning.
- Immediate feedback: Participants are more likely to ask the instructor questions and clarify something in a classroom than via video. This means that they stay more engaged and deepen their learning. Also, an instructor can walk around the room while participants are doing exercises and intervene quickly when someone is struggling.
- More exercise options: Group work, role-play, or collaborative exercises using props like post-it notes are much more effective (or only possible) in a classroom setting.
- Team building: Team members get to know one another better during time spent away from day-to-day duties. The social aspect of learning as a group together with the new skills can form the basis for common standards and expectations.
Champions of the classroom
We remain champions of classroom training because we believe that’s how people learn best.
Our Process Mapping workshop will be exclusively classroom based because of its practical, interactive exercises that involve role play, copious amounts of post-it notes and working in groups.
We’ll continue to deliver our Structured Writing courses primarily as classroom-based workshops, but we’ll also keep exploring options for remote delivery and will cater to client demand.
Let us know your training delivery preference
Are you an individual wanting to invest in professional development? Or do you lead a team that needs upskilling?
Please tell us whether remote or classroom-based delivery would work best for you. We’d love to hear from you.
Call Angela White, our friendly workshop manager, on 0800 50 50 56 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.