A choice – classroom vs. virtual technical training

Over the last couple of weeks i’ve been working on a business case for our centre to adopt a virtual technical subscription as opposed to our classical choice of “classroom” technical training.

It seems more and more clear that the ROI of classroom training is of an exceedingly low value if you look at it strategically.

What i’ve deducted so far is:

  • Classroom training provides a “feel-good” positive feedback from staff attending it. They know it’s costly and feel more valued by the company.
  • Classroom training provides a hands-on experience in many cases
  • Classroom training does not provide a large variety of topics (usually one topic per training session/week at a high cost)
  • Classroom training does not provide an on-demand availability as schedules are set by training providers
  • Classroom training does not provide a high knowledge retention rate

These were some of the main points that’s making the grounds for my business case.

When turning that around and looking at a virtual technical subscription (such as PluralSight.com and Innerworkings.com) there’s subtle areas of difference.

  • Virtual training doesn’t necessarily provide as “feel-good” positive feedback from staff utilising it. The individual value associated with it is generally less than Classroom training. This is a percieved monetary value.
  • Virtual training provides a hands-on experience in many cases if you mix your technical subscription offerings
  • Virtual training provides an on-demand availability service. It’s there when and wherever you need it
  • Virtual training provides a large variety of topics and can be both specific or general in depth
  • Virtual training provides a high knowledge retention rate as you would consume content which is needed here and now

From the generalisation (which i’ve had to make) it’s clear that both cost and knowledge is of high importance, leaving only a business decision on 1 or 2 points to be made.

I was able to run several trials with different staff over a short period of time and deducted that on average 6hrs was spent weekly (some lower and some much higher) when the on-demand content was available. The most important feedback I got was that there was a sense of “i can train when and where i feel like it” and “i can re-visit content i’m not sure about anytime”. These two points were of immense value to me as they clearly indicated that the benefits of classroom training was slowly being devalued.

The next phase for me is now to look at delivery, control and management/availability of sources and then work out a cost vs. cost for each offering.

It’s interesting for me personally to see how diverse many of these virtual training subscriptions are in topics and gives me some more positives to work with.