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Finding the best way for your staff to learn

Stuart Pedley Smith, head of learning at Kaplan

For a company to operate to its full potential, a modern workforce needs to continually engage with new ideas, absorb knowledge and handle information. This means that finding the best way to educate your employees is crucial in order to create a successful organisation.

This, however, can be a complex undertaking and the best learning method will very much depend on the needs of the individual employee and business.

Learning in the classroom

The traditional learning environment is the classroom, and it is one that still holds many advantages. It is a structured and disciplined setting, with valuable feedback to be gained from tutors who are experts in their field. The classroom is particularly useful for employees that prefer the consistency of having set time dedicated to learning, and is also beneficial for a business that wants to plan all study time in advance, at a specific location.  

However, although a good tutor will always try to personalise and segment content, it is sometimes hard to adapt classroom learning to the individual needs, learning styles and learning speeds of all employees. Furthermore, the rigidness of timetables can interfere with business schedules, especially during critical busy periods.

Online learning

Classroom learning, however, is far from the only option available today. Given the huge rise in the availability of technology and internet access, it is of little surprise that online courses and learning methods have been wholeheartedly embraced by many businesses and higher education institutes.

Universities have utilised online learning as a way of connecting with people who would normally not be able to afford nor access high quality education of such a high standard, and this method is becoming increasingly mainstream. For example, the University of Leeds and the Open University (OU) have recently announced that they will allow students to include MOOCS (Massive open online courses) in their degree studies.

In the business world, online learning has allowed companies to provide consistent and cost-effective global training and education to its work force. The UK in particular has adopted online learning, with an estimated 50% of UK companies training more than 50% of their staff online.

One of the key reasons for this is that online courses can offer a large amount of flexibility, meaning businesses can benefit by keeping staff in work at business-critical times, such as year-end. 

Furthermore, online courses can help employees to learn in the method that suits them best, giving them the ability to watch recordings in the comfort of their own home, slowing the pace down if necessary to make sure they have fully understood what is being said.

However, this does not mean that online learning is always a better choice than classroom. It is important to note that this increase in flexibility needs to be regularly checked – after all, flexibility is the friend of procrastination. Therefore, consistent motivation and deadlines are still required to keep studies on track.  

Choosing the right method

Whether learning online, in class, or a combination of both, it is the effectiveness of this method for the business involved rather than the method itself that determines how staff should be educated.

All learning methods will have different advantages and disadvantages, meaning it is important to provide freedom of choice for a business to decide which learning method works best for their specific needs.

For educators however, the challenge remains the same irrespective of the learning medium. Whether conducted online or in a classroom, a course must be a high quality, instructionally designed learning experience in order to be effective and produce great results.

To read the full article, visit the Kaplan Insights section

Picture courtesy of Pixabay 

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