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Needs determine best type of training, virtual or classroom

– Online training works.

So does learning through the traditional classroom experience.

It just depends on the need – and sometimes on the individual, one local training advocate says.

“The majority of what we offer is actually classroom time as opposed to online, but we do have online alternatives, and I do think they are good alternatives for people,” said Jane Rich, regional director of the Northeast Indiana Small Business Development Center.

Locally, popular online training might involve learning Microsoft Excel for spreadsheets or QuickBooks for accounting.

Personnel management and other human resources issues are also of interest, Rich said. The development center often markets workshops through IPFW’s Division of Continuing Studies.

Online training can sometimes offer more flexibility with people’s schedules, while on-site offers other benefits.

“What I like about interacting in person is you get (to see) the face and immediate feedback, and you can make sure the needs are being met,” Rich said.

“But I do believe there’s needs for both types.

“To me, online is really good if people are looking for best practices,” she said.

“A lot of times, we’re so caught up in what’s going on in our backyard, there may be training online outside of our market where we can explore best practices,” she said.

Dave Shriner, a learning solutions consultant with ENS Group in Fort Wayne, said he thinks mostly about self-study programs when he hears the words “online training.”

Many of the people who take classes from ENS tend to have technical backgrounds – often working in information technology – and prefer visual learning, he said.

Shriner is a strong supporter of instructor-led training with students in the same physical location because when questions arise, those in the class have “a mentor right there.”

But Virtual Learning Training – sometimes called Online Live – allows participants to experience more than one option.

Students or employees being trained can use the Internet to tap into a live class virtually with the benefit of sound and visual from an instructor who could be anywhere, Shriner said.

The simulated environment that engages people through exercises is effective.

“If the learning isn’t supported by actually hands on … retention of that particular skill set couldn’t be retained,” he said.

lisagreen@jg.net

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