E-Learning vs. In-Person Training – Are we Wasting our Time with this Question?

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As a provider of digital learning for soft skills and leadership, we are often asked: “Is e-learning really suitable for soft skills?” Or something like “Do you really think e-learning can replace face-to-face training?” But that is not what we’d want to talk about.

Of course, as Josh Bersin for example points out in his article about leadership development, developing soft skills that are personal and complex, are not easily matched with traditional e-learning. But frankly, that is not what we’d like to talk about.

Obviously we understand why L&D professionals like trainers and HR developers are concerned about this! But what if we are asking the wrong questions? Recently, I came across this article written by LMS-company Looop, which stated:

“It’s just a distraction to be asking whether classroom training is better than eLearning for developing soft skills.”

So, why is that? What does it distract us from?

It’s not about the method, it’s about the goal – sustainable learning and development is what we are really after

When we are only looking at comparing those two methods of learning, we forget, what we are actually aiming at. And that is, to find out what is really important for sustainable learning and development. If we pitch different training methods against each other, we neglect the fact that by combining the aspects of what works best in every training we might be able to create something even better.

Additionally, if companies or training companies only focus on choosing one over the other, they might forget to consider other aspects, such as:

  • do people actually get access to some kind of training at all?
  • does a learning culture exist, that encourages people to learn and grow and accepts mistakes because those are an inherent part of learning?

Let’s dive in a little deeper.

How do people learn and grow?

The blunt answer: No one learns important skills like dealing with new challenges, creativity, or leading others solely by soaking up information. That’s why discussing if e-learning works for training soft skills is a moot point. The real learning starts after the training, no matter what kind of training. It begins when people start reflecting on their behaviour, when they become more aware of themselves and of what they are doing, when they challenge what they think they know, and when they start changing their mindset step by step.

So what we should ask instead is rather, how can we do trainings that inspire people to continuously learn and grow?

Using e-learning and in-person training for what they do best

What would happen, if we start using each form of training and development program for what it’s best suited for?

Imagine, powerful, inspiring in-person workshops, to create energy and momentum, to get start a conversation, to debate and to question.

And then, an e-learning solution, which keeps the spirit of learning alive, gives little impulses in the daily routine, and adds information as easily digestible bits and pieces so people actually have a chance to remember them.

Creating a learning solution for sustainable development

So, what’s the answer?

If we ask ourselves how we can provide the kind of trainings people actually need to develop the skills they need – what’s the answer? In our experience of the last decades as trainers AND as developers of a sustainable digital learning solution, the answer is this:

  • Use e-learning and in-person trainings for what they are best used for and combine the two for maximum benefit
  • Be strategic: Always think about the result you are looking to create in your specific target audience. Choose your learning methods in accordance with that objective.
  • Make trainings accessible to as many people as possible (and e-learning can definitely help with that)
  • Create and encourage a learning culture

What we – as Intao – aim to do

We want to assist you in the best possible way to find out your needs.

Are you a training company looking for a digital tool to expand your in-person trainings? Perfect, we got the thing for you!

Are you an organisation looking for experts to make the most out of your in-house trainings? Awesome, our digital learning solution might be just what you have been looking for.

So what are you waiting for? Get in touch!


Flurina Doser

Flurina Doser

Flurina is an organisational psychologist and mediator. She is a true digital native who is thrilled that at Intao she can combine her interest in digital technology with her passion for people and development, which led her to become a psychologist in the first place.

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Flurina Doser