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By Samantha Allen
08 Feb 2019

Online learning VS instructor-led training - which is the best investment?

We’re all living and working in a digital age. Working remotely is increasingly popular, and the idea of online learning is definitely appealing. Thanks to technology, training your staff in new business and IT skills has never been so easy - and so affordable.

Perhaps you’re considering spending your training budget on online courses rather than instructor-led training. Your employees may have been nudging you to let them do their training from home, perhaps in their own time. If you can save money on your training with online options, why would you spend more on instructor-led training?

There are certainly pros and cons of each type. But do the benefits of online learning outweigh those of face-to-face training?

To help you determine the best option - before you waste valuable time and money - read on. We’ve reviewed the advantages and disadvantages of both online and face-to-face training.


What is online learning?

Online learning, or e-learning, is web-based and can be taken at any time from any device connected to the internet. It has been around for many years but given the rise of online it’s become more popular recently.

Because it’s delivered online, e-learning can include videos, images, tests and activities. Upcoming e-learning technologies could promise even more immersion for your employees, including interactive videos, gamification, virtual or augmented reality simulations, and there’s potential for personalised learning paths.

Why do companies choose online courses vs. instructor-led training?

Advantages of online learning -

  • Your business can save money - Online courses tend to be cheaper to begin with. Plus you won’t have any travel costs, as your employees can do the learning from home or anywhere with an internet connection.

  • Your employees can have less time away from work. e-learning usually takes up to 40-60% less time than face-to-face training, and the time saved from travelling to a training course is also worth noting.

  • Your employees have more flexibility to access training wherever and whenever they have the time to do so.

  • If you have high turnover rates for staff you may not want to waste money on expensive training, but need a team with certain skills. Online learning is a minimal investment to make to get those skills in your workforce.

  • Employees can pause online training, re-read information, or test out information they have learnt. If they want to take a break and re-visit the training later, that’s possible with an online course.

  • E-learning can be enhanced with visuals, animations and activities to engage your employees and help them to process the information.

  • Online courses are easy to book and there are lots of websites offering all types of learning.

Disadvantages of online learning -

  • Reducing costs is a big reason you may decide to train your employees online. But can low priced online training give you the quality you need? This depends on what level of skills you’d like your workforce to have.

  • e-learning course materials are not tailored to your employees’ particular needs. If the content doesn’t perfectly match your employees’ requirements, they’re unlikely to use those skills. The time and money involved would be wasted.

  • It’s easy to make mistakes choosing online courses. Without knowing what the course requires and what your employees’ abilities and skill levels currently are, you may not know if it matches their needs until they’ve started the course.

  • Using flashy graphics and animations can be a benefit of e-learning, but it can also be distracting to students. Different people learn in different ways, so even if the right course content is included, will your employee absorb the knowledge?

  • An online course can quickly become out-of-date. Particularly with IT courses, the content needs to be updated frequently. Live instructor-led courses are easily adapted to be relevant but it’s not so easy to update an online course in rapidly evolving industries like technology.

  • Without physical stimulation and interactivity, employees are more likely to lose interest. The online course is comparable to reading a book about the topic, but doesn’t often go beyond that.

  • It’s easier to misunderstand information without a live instructor to interact with. If your employee has learnt something but interpreted it wrongly, this can cause real problems when they come to implementing their new knowledge.

  • Online learning requires a lot of self-control and determination. While it’s true that your employees could do the training from the comfort of their own home, can they actually focus with all the distractions in that environment? There’s no instructor to keep them on their toes, so your employees would need great self-discipline.

  • Anyone can launch an online course - there are even courses on Udemy for how to launch your own course! If the instructor isn’t an expert, the course is worthless. Unless you do your research and ensure the online training is made by a credible, genuine expert, there’s a strong chance that the quality of the training will be poor.

  • Dropout rates for e-learning are much higher than face-to-face training. Buying a training course is not the same as doing the training. Without an instructor and the right environment to keep them focussed, it’s not surprising that students often don’t complete their online courses.

  • Soft skills, such as customer care, sales and presentation skills, generally don’t transfer well through an online platform. These types of skills particularly benefit from an expert instructor interacting with you and guiding you on body language, tone of voice and other interactive feedback.

Where can I get the best online training?

If you’ve read the advantages and disadvantages above and still think that e-learning is the best fit for you, here are some suggested online learning providers:






We aren’t affiliated with any of the above online training sites at all - Go.Courses is an independent website for booking expert instructor-led training courses.


What is instructor-led training?

Instructor-led training (sometimes referred to as ILT) is the more traditional, formal version of training that takes place in a room in front of learners. While the instructor may be knowledgeable and experienced in the learning material, they could be used simply for facilitation and to deliver material to learners.

Instructors can deliver training in a variety of ways; in a lecture/classroom format, as an interactive workshop, and also virtually with the use of video-conferencing tools. The instructor may have facilitation and teaching skills, and can use different methods to engage learners, embracing different learning styles.

Why companies choose instructor-led training vs. online courses

Advantages of instructor-led training -

  • Instructor-led training is proven to have the highest effectiveness in terms of knowledge retention.

  • Employees learn effectively due to real-time feedback, and have the opportunity to ask questions.

  • Instructors can adapt their presentations to the skill level and personality of the employees. Their responses and reactions can be considered and the training will be tailored so your employee will get the best learning experience.

  • Behaviour and body language contribute significantly to creating memorable experiences and digesting information. Mannerisms, gestures, tone, language and volume of voice can only be experienced fully in a face-to-face environment.

  • In a face-to-face environment, employees can break off into brainstorming or role-playing groups. They get a chance to learn from each other and practice implementing what they’re learning.

  • Your employees will feel valued and take the learning experience seriously. Investing in a high quality training course and providing them with an immersive learning experience will prove to your employees that you’re investing in them, and they will become a bigger asset to your team.

Disadvantages of instructor-led training -

  • Good quality instructor-led training courses tend to cost more than online courses, so if your training budget is minimal it can be hard to get everyone trained in this way. There are ways to make your training budget go further - read more about that HERE.

  • Considerable amounts of your employees’ time may need to be invested in order for your team to learn the necessary skills. Time away from the office is definitely worth noting, as some courses can be 5 days straight. It is possible to have instructor-led courses held in your own office - find out more HERE.

  • With live face-to-face training there’s a possibility you will have a different instructor on different occasions, rather than the same one every time. Each instructor will have their own teaching style and if it doesn’t suit your employee they may not get the most from the training. An expert instructor will usually know how to adapt to different learners styles.

Where can I get the best instructor-led training?

Go.Courses obviously! We may be biased but we genuinely set out to provide the world’s best IT and business skills training. Not only do we select the best industry expert instructors, we’ve made it as easy as possible for you to book the best training courses to upskill in your business or career.

Misleading advantages of online training

Many people overestimate the cost-effectiveness of online training courses. The amount of learning retained and experienced by employees is likely to be much less than the face-to-face equivalent. A short term saving could end up costing more in the long term, as you may have to retrain employees again.

Which is the best type of training?

Physical interaction is the best way to learn, communicate, and gain memories. The most meaningful relationships are developed through personal interactions, with the strongest connections made when there is time spent together.

There’s no doubt that digital education is valuable, but when it comes to training, face-to-face time remains incredibly vital. Seeing an expert instructor convey passion about a topic will ignite the same passion in your employees. They’ll have more interest and less distractions, and are much more likely to retain and implement their new skills.

Nothing is more motivating than having the right people around you. Interaction with others in a group learning environment can help boost your knowledge and increase your interest in a particular topic.

So, are you ready to begin learning exceptional new skills?Browse the full range of expert instructor-led courses HERE.