I don’t know how many times I hear this comment – and unfortunately there is a common thought through a number of “trainers” that their content is special and can only be delivered via a face-to-face route. Unfortunately the real issue which usually underpins this is a lack of experience, or more likely, the lack of ability to “let go” of the control of the learning intervention (e.g. “If I’m not there ‘facilitating’ the learning, the students aren’t learning”).
Obviously anyone who knows me will know my feelings on this subject. I genuinely don’t believe there are any subjects which cannot be delivered by e-learning (with the obvious exception of practical assessment) however I also have a strong belief (and this is definitely a case of not practising what I preach) that the e-learning has to be of a high standard for the experience to be compared.
It is very easy, and often inexpensive to produce a face-to-face offering which is highly enjoyable to the attendees. However, this enjoyment is limited to the attendees who are present, and also there is a limit to the number of attendees who can be physically present. So whilst this one-off cost of room hire, a bit of lunch (etc.) can seem comparatively cheap – the reach of this expenditure is limited (e.g. it costs £300 to hire a room, pay for lunches (etc.) to train 10 people – therefore a cost of £30 per person).
Whereas with an e-learning package, the content needs to be more thoroughly planned, scripted and recorded. There is no way to gloss over a minor error in an e-learning package as you can with face-to-face – and ultimately this does lead to an increased cost. However this then needs to be considered in the context of the expenditure. For example, it may well cost £5,000 to produce an e-learning package – but that package can be used over and over again, to 10,000 people – meaning your actual cost is £0.50 per person – suddenly it doesn’t seem so expensive.
Now-a-days – too many people look at the initial cost as a set figure, rather than the per person cost, or in fact the re-usability of the content (you can reuse e-learning without incurring any additional costs – but your face-to-face session will cost you the same amount every time).
The slight flip side to this perspective are those trainers who decide to embrace e-learning, but then immediately turn to rapid content development. Unfortunately these people (who are often again focusing on a financial aspect (“I can do it myself and it costs me very little”) – and therefore turn to “powerpoint conversion” rather than building a quality learning experience.