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Split image with classroom on the left and laptop on the right

Classroom vs. Online - which one to choose?

Even when fleets add online training to their safety programs, there are still plenty of places where classroom training makes the most sense. Understanding when to choose each type of training, and how to combine them, can make a big difference in the overall success of a safety program. Let's look at how to combine them get the best value out of each.

In most cases, people choose one or the other purely based on scheduling and availability. If you can get a bunch of people together in one place, you run a classroom session. If not, then you do the training online. That's a perfectly reasonable starting point, and given the nature of the transportation industry that's probably going to be the deciding factor in most cases. But if you want to get the best value out of each option, it's important to understand their individual strengths and weaknesses and take advantage of those when designing and delivering content.

Let's look at the strengths and weaknesses of each delivery method and see how they can fit together. We'll start with classroom, since that's where people spend most of their time.

Classroom - Strengths

Classroom - Weaknesses

So, we've got some clear strengths, but also some real challenges to overcome as well. Now let's look at what online offers.

Online - Strengths

Online - Weaknesses

Putting the two together, we can see that with classroom all the cost is in the delivery, while online has that cost in the development. You can build classroom training quickly and cheaply, but getting it delivered is expensive. Online is much most costly to develop, but once it's built there's almost no cost to deliver.

Combining Methods

Breaking out the strengths and weaknesses really highlights how the two fit together. The weaknesses of one are direct strengths of the other, which means you can combine them in lots of exciting ways to improve the learning experience.

For instance, you can have people do an online course that covers general concepts and basic fundamentals in a subject, then supplement it with a short classroom course that addresses company-specific content in the same subject. This works great for regulatory things like logbooks or cargo securement.

Or you can have people attend a classroom course that serves as a kickoff for a new policy or process, answering any questions and discussing what's happening. After that, people can do an online course to learn all the details. That works really nicely for large system rollouts (e.g. new satellites) or HR policies.

Or you can combine online with a practical component. Have people take an online course that covers theoretical content, then follow that up with a demonstration and practical test. We see this most commonly in forklift training, since the regs require people to cover both areas.

Using two different delivery methods to more effectively share content is commonly known as "blended learning" and it's a hot topic in the education world today. Universities started doing it ages ago by having small online components tacked onto traditional lectures, but now it can mean any combination of delivery tools. Mixing and matching different channels helps keep learners engaged, serves different learning styles better, and gives you more ways to measure the effectiveness of the learning at the end.