As organizations seek to optimize training budgets On-Line (Remote) Training (OST) can make a lot of sense. In on-line training the instructor uses a web based conferencing service (our default is GoTo Meeting but we regularly use Webex) to conduct training sessions with remotely connected students. The majority of our training these days is done remotely and while your organization's requirements for on-line training will most likely be unique we offer the following general observations about on-line (remote) training:
Cost: Where an organization has a number of people it wishes to send on the same (or similar) training courses, on-site training can offer significantly lower cost-per-student starting with as few as 3 students. We charge a fixed daily rate for a single instructor. With on-line courses there are no additional costs other than the instructors daily rate.
Common Interest: Where all the students are from the same organization the operational terminology and business models used are common and shared by all students. Such commonality of interest tends to reduce the barriers to questions and thus can significantly increase knowledge acquisition.
Customization: On-line courses offer the possibility of customization. This can occur as a deliberate customer requirement in which case some additional costs may be incurred though in our experience this is fairly rare. Even when standard courses are given on-line we request details about the customer's operational configurations and implementations and try to modify examples to reflect the organization's usage. In addition we always try to tailor the last day of any three or four day course based on both the standard material and a discussion with students at the end of the second last day. This is always a no-charge service designed to optimize student knowledge acquisition.
Coverage: We allow up to 10 students on all our courses. While we do not encourage customers to add people just for the sake of reducing apparent costs we do encourage customers to add as many people as is sensible from the organization. Thus: bringing forward training, adding specialists from other areas who have dealings with the subject matter being taught and scheduling refresher training (perhaps advanced components only) all represent legitimate reasons to add people to on-line courses. Adding unqualified students who may, or may not, have a requirement to cover the subject matter will tend to reduce both the quality and effectiveness of the course(s) for other students.
Concentration: One of the major negatives of on-line courses is that students can be contacted if there is a problem within their organization. Concentration will be broken, knowledge acquisition opportunities may be lost. While this risk is inevitable we do ask line management to think hard before making contact with a student - is the short term gain worth the risk to the long term gain of the student's knowledge acquisition? It is that simple. Nevertheless stuff happens, emergencies do arise and problems can demand immediate solutions. In the event that such events happen we always work with any student(s) involved to cover missed material at a convenient time. In an extreme case we even scheduled a one day course hiatus to enable an organization to resolve its problem while making sure that student knowledge acquisition objectives were achieved.
Timing Flexibility: On-line courses can be highly flexible with regard to timing. Course modules typically consist of 2 to 4 hours of tuition and can be scheduled as required by the organization. Our only stipulation is that any course (1, 2, 3 or 4) days must be completed within a single week. Examples of this flexibity include: spreading a 3 day course over a week to allow participants to handle any overnight problems; Single day hiatus to handle an emergency situation which required the attention of a number of course participants; course given in 4 hour evening session with the balance on Saturday morning.
Geographic Flexibility: One of the great advantages of on-line courses is that the geographic location of the paricipants is unimportant. Increasingly specialist teams are spread throughout a country or the world. Other than the timezone issue (someone has to get up early or study in the middle of the night) such organizations can be easily accomodated with on-line training. Probably the majority of on-line training session we run have a central group, who typically get together in a single conference room, and a number of remote participants. Management sees the flexibility of training key staff members without the overhead (time and money) of having to bring them to a central location.
Facilities: For on-line training the organization is responsible for providing the training facilities which consist of a computer/laptop (either windows or *nix depending on the course) and we work with the client to provision appropriate hands-on services for exercises. We provide all course material one week in advance in electronic format only. Course notes and slides are provided in PDF, Microsoft Word and OpenOffice (ODA) formats.
In summary, On-line Training (OLT) can offer significant advantages and works like this:
You tell us what you want and when you want it
We send you a document defining what we understand is being requested
Once the content and dates are agreed we give you a fixed price.
You accept or not as the case may be.
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