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Balancing Act: Choosing the Right Learning Environment in 2024

Learning, a concise word with the potential to significantly impact an individual’s life, can transform someone from zero to a hero. Humans have always had the inclination to complete one task and eagerly inquire about what’s next, fostering excitement. With the continuous evolution of businesses, employees’ mindsets have also evolved. Nowadays, not only organizations but also employees are keen to explore what’s next in their career journey. This places a strong emphasis on upskilling and reskilling the workforce via continuous learning to stay current and relevant.

Thanks to modern technologies, employees can access thousands of courses with a simple touch and swipe, making learning incredibly accessible. Furthermore, businesses are investing in their internal talent, offering opportunities for upskilling and reskilling to enhance employee retention. This includes well-planned learning and development (L&D) initiatives and mentorship opportunities. However, the choice of a learning partner, whether online or offline, ultimately depends on employees, and it’s crucial to make this decision wisely. While many organizations have successfully transitioned their L&D programs to the virtual realm, there are still certain advantages that face-to-face classroom learning can offer. To gain a more profound insight into the benefits of a face-to-face learning environment within the context of an e-learning ethos, let’s delve into the learning requirements of some employees.

1. The Socially Bound Learning :

Meet Zen, a professional who thrives on social connections to stay fresh and boost his productivity. He used to be a part of offline training programs that enhanced his skills and abilities. But with the transition to hybrid work, his learning sessions have now moved to his laptop screen, making his learning slower than usual. The question remains: Will he be able to maintain the same mindset in online learning as he did in the social training environment?

For employees like Zen, a classroom setting can significantly contribute to addressing this question. It’s not just about the content; it’s also about the interactions that workplace training provides, setting it apart. In-person collaborations, in particular, enhance the learning experience by adding structure and fostering creativity within the classroom modes. When employees work together to solve problems, they can observe how their colleagues learn, the techniques they use, and how they perform under pressure. This dynamic promotes a culture of continuous learning and strengthens teamwork.

2. The Personal Touch Learning :

Now, let’s meet Tom, Zen’s colleague, who shares a passion for learning and expanding his skill set. However, Tom prefers a customized learning approach that aligns with his unique needs and preferences, which may not always be fulfilled in socially interactive or e-learning settings, as it does for others. So, what learning method should Tom consider?

Since individuals have diverse learning styles, not everyone learns equally from computer-based methods. Tom, like many others, thrives on a personalized learning approach, and this is where classroom settings truly shine. In a classroom, an instructor can tailor their teaching techniques to suit the individual needs of each learner, making it a highly adaptable and personalized learning experience. Moreover, this personalized physical learning gives employees the opportunity to engage with trainers and peers, creating a more seamless learning journey with fewer complexities, ultimately leading to better outcomes.

3. Beyond Procrastinating Learning :

Meet Sam, who embarked on an e-learning journey to advance in his current role three months ago. However, despite the deadline last month, he’s been stretching the curriculum, slowing down his pace. It’s not that Sam lacks interest; as he progresses through the modules, he encounters disengagement. This self-paced learning approach fosters a sense of procrastination, with thoughts like “Can I do this later?” disrupting his career trajectory. How can Sam overcome this challenge?

Procrastination is a common hurdle in e-learning environments, and Sam’s experience is not unique. However, by integrating a mix of classroom training, individuals like Sam can not only learn new concepts but also apply their learnings, maintaining a consistent pace. This leads to completed courses without the need for follow-ups from management. Through in-person sessions, organizations can reinforce prior knowledge, keeping employees motivated for next sessions. This enhances engagement and insights retention, something that e-learning alone may not achieve.

4. A Welcome Break For Learning :

Meet Ferry, a top-performing employee in the same organization who is constantly tied up in her 9-5 routine. Her daily life consists of logging in, working on tasks, attending numerous meetings, completing e-learning modules, and then repeating this cycle. This repetitive pattern has made her feel trapped in the monotony of her work life, leaving her wondering how to balance her workload and e-learning commitments effectively. This is where classroom-based training and learning can make a significant difference.

Organizations can provide employees like Ferry a break from their regular work responsibilities through separate training sessions, offered quarterly or as needed. These sessions can include a range of training activities, intimate conferences with welcoming amenities such as refreshments, providing employees with a change from their daily routines. Such events not only enable employees to reconnect with colleagues they rarely see due to their busy schedules but also create an environment that promotes increased task completion and enhances the learning experience. Ultimately, it leads to promoting positive work relationships and offering fertile ground for potential collaborations.

5. Story-Based Learning :

Let’s meet David, a newcomer to the organization who works remotely from a different location. David has been grappling with an e-learning module for the past week, struggling to grasp new concepts without practical examples to illustrate the core ideas. He’s attempted to seek assistance from his colleagues, but the constraints of their schedules make it challenging to engage in a call, and text-based communication isn’t providing the depth of explanation he needs. As a newcomer, will he be able to successfully complete this course?

In this scenario, David requires more than just navigating through the module. What he needs is a story or a real-life example that can demystify the concepts, akin to the kind of learning experience one can often find in a classroom setting. In a classroom, employees can interact directly with the trainer, prompting them to provide straightforward and relatable examples that can be easily understood within the given timeframe. This enriches the online learning experience, transforming it from mere viewing to active comprehension, ensuring that employees not only see the content but also grasp it for their future endeavors.

In today’s tech-savvy world, organizations have the capability to provide training and development opportunities to their employees through various innovative methods. However, when assessing the return on investment (ROI), there often seems to be a gap, indicating that there might be issues on either end of the learning process. It all starts with recognizing that a one-size-fits-all approach won’t fully serve the intended purpose. Learning strategies are expert-developed methods aimed at enhancing an individual’s overall learning capabilities.

Relying solely on a single learning approach may not yield the best results. In this age of online learning, classroom settings offer a unique opportunity to synchronize learning with the pace of work while considering personal commitments. Furthermore, they convey to employees that their organization prioritizes training, aiming to maximize the benefits of these programs and evaluate performance collaboratively rather than merely providing courses to passively consume. These are my personal viewpoints on striking a balance between various learning methods, but it’s essential to acknowledge that everyone may have a unique perspective that doesn’t necessarily align with mine. However, acknowledging this approach fosters a sense of trust, boosts motivation, encourages collaboration, and cultivates a culture of continuous learning and excellence.

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