In-Person Training: A Valuable Component of a Well-Designed Training Program

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In-Person Training: A Valuable Component of a Well-Designed Training Program

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Training has evolved significantly over the years — in the ’70s there was no such thing as online courses. All training was in person and maybe reinforced by 16 mm film reels and if your organization was lucky, perhaps other types of early video formats. Remember film strips? VHS and beta format? At that time a single safety video could cost as much as $750 to purchase and $450 a week to rent (in 1970 dollars)!

As electronic media evolved, we now have wonderful opportunities for outstanding training including on-line courses, podcasts, YouTube videos, Zoom and Teams meetings, just to name a few. This came to a head during the COVID pandemic, when in-person training all but disappeared and many thought it would never return.

Of course, at Water Otter, we believe that our online program is a great core curriculum for any water or wastewater operation, but we also believe that more training is better. Herein we discuss how live courses can supplement the online programs we offer.  

Of course, careful consideration of cost, access, subject matter and personnel allow for selection of courses from the wide scope of training available. Of the options available, instructor-led training provides attendees with instant access to the instructor and the advantage of drawing directly from their knowledge and experience throughout the class. Additionally, in-person courses typically offer ample opportunity for questions which can help with learning continuity. In-person training may include a better exchange of ideas, interpersonal interaction, improved hands-on training, and a faster response to questions.

Of course, there is a significant cost for in-person training including instructor fees, potential costs of materials, and what is usually the greatest cost: loss of productivity of the attendees. Scheduling in-person training can also be difficult to arrange. There can be an issue in getting supervisors to release workers to attend necessary training in the numbers needed to ensure a high level of departmental competency. 

Recently this author was brought into an organization to teach a critical safety course only to find sufficient failure to plan for the training and therefore almost half of the expected attendees were absent. In addition, an emergency responder organization invited by the sponsors and critical to making the training complete did not show.

Whatever form of training is part of your education program, this underscores the importance of the role of management to get behind the training efforts, to fully participate, and to support the effort. 

Online training often provides an opportunity for a wide range of subjects and allows learners to take and complete training at their own pace, but there are some things that simply need to be presented live. Developing a well-balanced program of continuing education requires a mix of strategies and products. For more information, we recommend you refer to our paper, “Building a Blended Portfolio of Continuing Education Tools.”

Some organizations send workers to conferences looking for CEUs by vendor based speakers. Unfortunately, many classes are sales pitches as opposed to solid targeted training. No one wins here other than possibly the vendor.

So, which is better or preferred? The jury remains out on this subject with about a 50/50 split. The online training industry continues to advance and is expected to grow by nearly 250% in 2024. Studies have indicated that on-line training is as effective as face-to-face learning. 

How about being cost-effective? Online learning is found to be less expensive than classroom training as there are numerous expenses associated with in-person training such as scheduling training locations, travel costs for both trainer and workers, printing, meals and snacks, and of course lost time from work. 

However, participating in a program like Water Otter has a lot of benefits including a learning management system, courses developed by seasoned professionals, CEUs, self-paced learning, and an outside service managing all the training records, in addition to providing worker support such as testing information for operator certification.

A record management system is a major benefit as when a regulatory agency pays a visit, they certainly want to see your training records. In this case a few clicks on a keyboard and you have the records you need.

Some of the major advantages of online training includes more cost-effective training, self-paced learning, better rates of training completion, recordkeeping, and the ability to access the session again to reinforce learning. 

It’s clear that employees will benefit from a blend of training using both online and in-person courses.

It’s important for your organization to determine what works best for your requirements. With that in mind, consider Water Otter for your training needs. 

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