Classroom training: Still life in the old dog?
In 2002 when URM first started to develop and deliver information security,
business continuity and risk management courses, the demise of classroom training
was being strongly predicted in favour of computer-based, self-study training. Despite the doom-mongers’ predictions, 17 years later face-to-face training is still going strong.
In some ways, you could argue the continuing demand for classroom training is bucking trends we are seeing in the wider society, where there is a general shift towards more flexible and convenient consumption models, i.e. where services can be experienced anywhere, anytime and at any pace. With computer-based/virtual training, just think about the benefits of undertaking training wherever and whenever suits you – in between work meetings or on the train etc. Or, like catching up on your favourite TV series, maybe your preference is to binge on a whole load of modules together!
So, with all of these benefits of self-study training, why do people still endure the hassle of travelling long distances, staying away from home on dates which may be far from ideal in order to attend a classroom training course?
In answer to this conundrum, if you had to come up with a one-word answer, it would be interaction and here we are talking about the whole interaction, not just with the trainer, but with other delegates, and not just in the classroom. With residential courses, in particular, delegates get a unique opportunity to share knowledge and experiences, without the distractions of other work or domestic demands.
We find public scheduled courses, with delegates attending from a wide range of organisations, to be a particularly rich source of knowledge and skills transfer. It is interesting to see how delegates from totally unrelated industry sectors can benefit from learning about alternative approaches to addressing a range of issues or challenges.
This process is naturally helped by trainers who are skilled both in facilitation and creating a comfortable environment where everyone feels at ease, enabling you and other delegates to share their experience and ideas, and to have constructive discussions and debates. This dynamic relationship shared between you and other delegates and the trainer, is often minimised or lost when training is undertaken on a distance or virtual format.
Research has also shown that the richness of information and memorable experiences are gained through behaviour and body language, including one’s mannerisms, gestures, tone, language and volume of voice. Face-to-face communication allows the entire experience to not only be heard, but also seen and felt.
Another benefit of classroom training in our estimation is that the possibility of misunderstanding and misinterpretation is reduced. In the classroom, the trainer is able to place more emphasis on different words and, equally, is able to respond to blank or quizzical expressions. From your perspective, there is more opportunity to gain clarification, as well as benefit from other delegates’ questions.
For URM, it is the human aspect which provides the key differentiation, where the trainer has the opportunity to react to delegates questions and queries, and to reinforce theory with practical applications drawn from their personal experiences. Their passion for a topic can also be infectious and not only inform, but inspire delegates, thus significantly improving your knowledge retention.