What does it take to make online training effective? That’s a tough question to answer. To attempt an answer, we have to look at traditional classroom training methods and what elements make them effective. Is it eye contact with the instructor? Interacting with other students? Asking questions and getting immediate answers? There may not be a single answer. For the most part, educators are still to try to work out these factors and how they impact learning.

If we agree that training, by definition, is a process meant to alter actual behavior in some way, through increased understanding or new ways of addressing a process, then we must look at the outcome. Are the desired outcomes different in training a forklift operator in safety rules, for example, using online, self-directed delivery methods than in the classroom? Not likely. We want the forklift operated safely and effectively regardless of how the training is delivered. The goal doesn’t change with the delivery method.

Is classroom training better than online training? For some, perhaps. But it seems that online training is expanding rapidly, so one has to assume that the process has validity. Still, there’s no denying the perception that the two methods are significantly different.