TrainACE - IT and Cybersecurity Training Blog

Classroom vs. Virtual Training: What’s Your Best Fit?

[fa icon="calendar"] Nov 26, 2018 2:57:47 PM / by Paul Ricketts

Instructor in training class with studentsVirtual classroom training is on the rise — recent data from the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) reports more than 528 full-time virtual schools across the United States serving almost 300,000 students. So it’s no surprise to see this carry over into the workforce, especially for information technology professionals; virtual IT training offers companies a way to keep staff on-site while they earn certifications or refresh needed skills.

IT classroom training, meanwhile, gives employees the chance to go hands-on and get practical experience in their chosen field of study, experience they can leverage when they’re back managing local server stacks and handling security issues.

What’s the best fit? Let’s dig into the pros and cons of virtual training and live classroom offerings.

Virtual Training

Using virtual courses to aid internal training provides key advantages, such as:

  1. Individually paced learning — Training materials can be accessed where and when students prefer, letting them study and complete courses at their pace.
  2. Lower costs — Virtual courses come with lower costs than classroom training, making it easier on corporate budgets and increasing the frequency of new training opportunities.
Yet virtual training also comes with significant drawbacks. Most notably, students need to find time and space to access virtual courses without interruption — no easy feat for IT staff managing local networks, security and devices. The self-paced nature of virtual learning also makes it easier to “put off” training until workplace demands abate. Yet given the constantly changing nature of technology, getting a spare moment — let alone a peaceful one — is a long shot.

Live Classroom Training

Live classroom training, meanwhile, offers multiple benefits:

  1. Face-to-face time — Students can directly ask questions and get immediate feedback if they’re struggling with specific tasks. This kind of real-world connection can help improve retention and make courses less frustrating.
  2. Controlled environment — Classrooms are designed for learning and provide students with everything they need to succeed in IT courses including speedy networks, up-to-date devices and secure training environments.

Cons for classroom training often site the scheduling and travel conflicts, but these are easily managed if IT staff are given the time and space to focus on classroom training before getting back to work. Often, the biggest drawback to in-class training is finding a provider that goes above and beyond to deliver the ideal classroom experience.

The ‘Stickiness’ Factor

Arguably the most important factor in any training scenario is “stickiness” — do students retain what they learn once the course is over?

Here, classroom training comes out ahead. While virtual training is well-suited to topics for experienced professionals looking to shore up their skills with courses in CCNP Troubleshooting or Project Management, introductory courses or those that benefit from complex scenario building are better suited for classrooms.

By leveraging in-class training for courses such as CompTIA A+,Intro to Java or SQL Administration, staff learn more than just what they need to pass the test or earn the certification — they get the practical knowledge necessary to apply skills across their organization. Classroom training is also beneficial to help knowledge “stick” when students have access to state-of-the-art networking and cloud facilities to empower adaptive training scenarios. If Internet connections fail during virtual training or confusion arises over course expectations, staff are stuck waiting for network fixes or instructor replies. In our state-of-the-art classrooms, however, solid infrastructure helps technology enhance student learning and prepare them to take on real-life challenges when they return.

If you are just getting started Information Technology, you will most likely find the personal interaction with fellow students and instructors invaluable, as well as the hands-on practice you will get handling real components and network hardware.

Virtual or Classroom — What’s the Best Fit?

Bottom line? Virtual training offers lower costs and easy access to training but can’t compete with in-class coursework when it comes to retaining new knowledge and preparing for real-life challenges.

Paul Ricketts

Written by Paul Ricketts

Originally from the UK, Paul Ricketts is the Director of Marketing at TrainACE in Greenbelt, MD. Having started out in the field of Geographic Information Systems, Paul has a wealth of experience in a wide variety of industries, focused on tech., graphics and data analysis. Having finally settled in the field of marketing, he has spent the last 8 years fine tuning his skills in the art of communication and persuasion.

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