Memorandum Online training versus paper-based distance learning
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I have received your memorandum dated 8 February 2008 and has then promptly started researching on the pros and cons of offering some of our courses online - Memorandum Online training versus paper-based distance learning introduction. As a result of this research, I hereunto discuss the reasons why there is a need for the online training module, the options with which we can implement such with our programs, and the barriers that we may encounter in doing so. I have also included a thorough analysis, both financial and administrative, in my recommendation.
Online training versus paper-based distance learning
Technology has become the way of living for most people, even in the training industry.
The Need for Distance Trainings
According to the Customer Service Department, 45% of the inquiries that the center received in 2007 mentioned or focused on distance trainings. This is a 15% rise on such inquiries as compared to the prior three years. Interestingly, 30% of these inquiries came from people who are not geographically constrained to attend our regular classroom or in-house trainings.
It would be safe to conclude that ruling out geographical concerns, the reasons behind these inquiries may be time and convenience. Considering that 80% of our clients are working people, 15% are students, and only 5% are not tied to a profession or program of study, it is important to consider a system that will be convenient for this segment. Professionals spend at least eight hours a day in the office, excluding travel times, overtimes, and many other extra hours spent for home and work. Students are likely faced with similar dilemmas.
There are two options that are in hand to satisfy these clients; online education or paper-based learning. Both will answer these dilemmas. By making the courses available to them at their convenience, we can assist them in polishing their crafts as well as boost enrollment for the center. However, it should be identified how each option will affect the training quality and the administrative processes of the center.
Joint Advantages of Online and Paper-based Trainings
l Universally designed. Learning must be designed to fit the learnerś speech, hearing, speaking, language, interest, and activity needs. (Orkwis, 1999) Distance learning provides most of these. It fits people who does not have the time, people who are far from the training venue, or those who are not fond of the classroom-setting training.
l Cheaper. Note that trainings that will be offered shall be priced similarly or higher as compared to classroom courses. Yet the costs of providing these trainings can turn out cheaper. To begin with, the trainer and the trainees will not need a space to hold the trainings in. They do not need to use the electricity of the center, nor the other facilities. Thus, it is cheaper to maintain, justifying the costs that are associated with setting up the infrastructure.
Online learning also parallels the principles of inclusive learning: (Burgstahler, 2005)
l Can be used by everyone. The disabled, using some applications and peripherals, can benefit too.
l The interface can be simple with proper trainings
l Audio and video instruction is automatic
l Errors are easy to track and correct
l Learning is done with no or less effort, at the learnerś convenience and interest
l There are no space and class size issues
Paper-based training is equally at par:
Can be used by everyone without the need to be trained with computers or the internet
The learner need not invest in technology to be able to study
Learner can study at his own time and pace
There are no space and class size issues
Disadvantages of Distance Trainings
Yet there are also disadvantages to holding trainings over distances, whether online or paper-based:
l Less control with the trainees, difficulty in implementing discipline
Trainers have less control if trainees will attend, and if they do if their attention is fully focused on the lesson.
l Face-to-face interactions are limited or non-existent
A special concern for speech and interpersonal classes, face-to-face interactions are omitted in online trainings; in addition, the interpersonal skills which is important for organizations is also not hoaned (Min, 2005)
l Modules can be shared by two or more people, including issues of cheating
Other people can assume the identity of the trainee and attend the class in his behalf; two or more people will get the lessons, and the real trainees might pass without really taking the training
Online learning, however, involves high costs for setting up the online classroom infrastructure. Online classrooms need specialized and customized features to simulate a classroom experience despite the issue of distance. Downtimes will also affect the quality of instruction. When the internet service providers break down, or when the website host gives in, classes will be canceled, lessons will be delayed, and the quality of service decreases.
Paper-based training likewise involves lapses. The costs for printing modules will be shouldered by the center, and the quality of the courier will affect the timely delivery of modules to students. Students will also have to spend more to return exams via mail, and errors in the module as well as in the other printed materials will be hard to recall and replace. Technology-driven individuals may not also be a fan of this training style.
The Online Learning Setup
The Paper-based Training Setup
There are many challenges to the introduction of the online classroom. However, there are ways to combat these barriers to cross this big leap for Speakwell. First, trainees should be monitored, and the website designed in such a way that their attendance is monitored. Using new technological web features such as camera chat functions, video conferencing, IP addressing and tracking and the likes will help avoid cheating and control issues. To avoid the ill effects of downtimes, back-up providers of the internet service and the other important components of the project should be invested in. Again, the high capitalization should be compared with the low execution costs, and it will be seen that in fact the project does not cost too much.
Should paper-based trainings be in effect, there are also ways to patch its lapses. Well-proofread modules and tie-ups with dependable carriers should be a priority. Good points of paper-based distance learning should be highlighted as well.
Lastly and more importantly, each course should be evaluated for their fitness to be offered either in the online or paper-based distance learning setting. It should be remembered that many oral communication classes are designed for face-to-face and interactive studies. This is possible with highly sophisticated online classrooms, so if this is a project for a simple start-up online or paper-based training these types of courses should be momentarily shelved until it has been revamped to fit this new setting.
Yet looking at the advantages and disadvantages of the online distance education and the paper-based distance learning program, it will be easier to implement the online classroom setting especially for courses which will require oral instruction and oral interaction. A web-based classroom can enable features that are contributory to distance learning, things that paper-based distance learning cannot have.
Over all, the online training project is feasible. It is also expected that it will make waves, pleasing many trainees and employers with the convenience that it brings about for trainings. Because it answers the specific needs for employees and employers alike, convenience for the most part of it, it is undoubtable that this project will be a success. Yet as with any undertaking, it is important for a dedicated group of personnel to focus on the project especially in the starting stage. For one, the project needs a competitive and highly-skilled website administrator, and a co-team academic consultant to work together and set up an accurate yet impressive learning site. This way, any unexpected glitches can be patched up accordingly.
Burgstahler, S. Ph.D. (2005) Universal Design of Instruction. Retrieved on February 16, 2008, from
Min Young Doo. The Effects of Presentation Format for Behavior Modeling of Interpersonal Skills in Online Instruction. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia. Vol. 14. 2005.
Orkwis, R. (1999) Universal Design. Retrieved on February 16, 2008, from http://www.ericdigests.org/2000-4/access.htm