I’m always curious to hear what preferences people have for learning environments. Do you prefer online, face to face or a mix of the two? Perhaps it depends on the subject matter or duration of the course itself. Maybe decisions are made differently for one-time training sessions versus higher education. Differently again if there is an opportunity to apply what you’ve learned on the spot versus a presentation of material. And maybe your values come into play as well in this process. If you value freedom for example, the online environment may be more appealing to you. Although I believe there will always be a place for both, with advances in technology today, there are so many options and advantages for online learning. It is great to be able to embrace both and discover the many advantages of each.
Depending on the type of learning environment, online may offer more flexibility to your busy life. For example, you may be able to go to school and work at the same time. Online learning can be synchronous where everyone is online at the same time learning in real time via a webinar or listening to a live lecture. It can also be asynchronous, where the online learning experience is used to share information regardless of time of day or location. People can jump on when it suits their schedules and participate in the discussion or listen to a pre recorded lecture or webinar. One thing that I’ve noticed about the online environment is that I find people who don’t typically feel comfortable participating in a face to face environment, will contribute openly to online discussions. It may be the distance factor which may help to alleviate some fear and insecurities therefore creating a safer environment. Some may be encouraged by the ability to take their time to formulate and provide an appropriate response. Online learning typically opens doors to learning from more people with diverse backgrounds because the world suddenly becomes much smaller. Anyone with an internet connection can attend and participate.
Face to face learning is always synchronous in that it is always in ”real time”. There are many advantages to this environment as well. Getting to know one another tends to happen faster in a face to face environment. If you want to know if your audience is present, it is often easier to determine that in a face to face environment. There is no delay in time so decisions can often be made faster. Many people find it easier to connect through the non verbal cues and body language only seen in person. Some people find it easier and more effective to engage in person than via written text as is often the case with online environments. Completing classroom work may be more effective in person where the instructor is readily available to answer questions.
I can fully appreciate the value in each. One thing I will say from experience in doing my coach training and my M.A. Leadership, is that a mix of the two for a longer duration program certainly provides the best of both worlds. Developing meaningful relationships can also happen in either environment, provided the learner is open to it. Engagement is less about environment and more about meaningful learning outcomes built on trust.
What might be some of your favorite things about each of these learning environments? I look forward to hearing your thoughts and experiences.
Yours in learning, Glo
(C) 2012 – True Bliss Coach Gloria Higdon